James J. O'Kelly (1845-1916) was born in Ireland. He served with the French Foreign Legion in Mexico from 1865 to 1866 and managed to escape back to London after the fall of the French regime. He traveled to the United States in 1871 and secured a position with the New York Herald, eventually becoming one of the most distinguished and respected journalists in America. O'Kelly joined General Terry's command on the Yellowstone in July 1876 and wrote a series of in depth articles on the entire campaign. During this time period he met and interviewed Generals Terry and Crook, Major Reno, Captain Benteen, Captain Weir, George Herendeen, Lieut. Maguire, as well as most of the surviving officers & enlisted men of the 7th Cavalry. Benteen actually shared his personal notes on the battle with O'Kelly & sketched a map of the battle for him. When O'Kelly first arrived at Terry's camp he wrote glowingly of both Benteen and Reno but by summer's end had almost nothing good to say about either man & believed that a full-scale Government inquiry was needed to expose the truth about the Custer battle. In private correspondence with Elizabeth Custer, he blamed Benteen's tardiness & Reno's cowardice for the disaster, but did acknowledge that the captain was "the savior of the Seventh." O'Kelly returned to Ireland about 1881 & was elected as an Irish MP (Member of Parliament) to the British Parliament (House of Commons) and later elected as an MP to the Irish Parliament. He had a very exciting life & amazing career and was an ardent supporter of Irish home rule.
"Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." General Gibbon "No, I will not." Custer, noon, June 22, 1876 passing in review.
Towards the end of September 1876 the summer campaign officially came to an end. O'Kelly wrote the following article documenting the end of the activities. With in this article O'Kelly wrote "A Review of Custer's Fight the Little Big Horn". This was published in the September 21, 1876 New York Herald.
With-in the Sept 21 article O'Kelly makes the interesting statement.
"About seven miles from Custer's battle field Captain Benteen watered his horses at a pool in the road. While the battalion was halted Boston Custer rode up, spoke with several officers and then rode on to the front."
"Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." General Gibbon "No, I will not." Custer, noon, June 22, 1876 passing in review.
Correspondent James O'Kelly article: A Review of Custer's Fight the Little Big Horn published in the September 21, 1876 New York Herald, with my annotations in brackets: PART I
Now that the campaign is over, no time should be lost in clearing up the causes which led to the great disaster that will ever be remembered in our history. No confidence can be placed in the official report of the battle of the 25th of June. It is full of inaccuracies, and has been read with something approaching astonishment by the men who took part in the fight. [Note: Truer words have not been spoken, and that, only 3 months after the battle!] If the public want to know the whole truth about the Custer massacre there must be a full and searching investigation where the witnesses have to answer on their oath. If such investigation should be held, startling revelations may be looked for. The story of Custer's fight and death is still unwritten. [Note: And still isn't over 140 years later!]
Your correspondent has gleaned some important facts which must compel further investigations, but the officers of the regiment will give no information unless they are compelled to do so. [Note: The veil of secrecy descended among the surviving officers of the 7th Cavalry only months after the battle. 2 1/2 years later, that veil of silence and obfuscation by the surviving officers would remain strong during the course of the Reno Court of Inquiry.] From the day the Herald correspondent arrived in the camp of the Seventh cavalry he sedulously sought such information so as to enable him to place this grave question in its true light and fix in its manner that should have no room for cavil or evasion the responsibility of the disaster that beset our arms on the 25th of June. The task [of determining the responsibility of the disaster] was not an easy one. It was beset with difficulties that could not be met and overcome in the ordinary way.
RETICENCE OF OFFICERS AND WHY
Men [of the 7th Cavalry] there were [present] who could tell the whole truth, but they were soldiers; it was their duty to be silent; they were obliged to speak the official language [of obfuscation]. They were loyal to their regiment [and its good name and reputation]; there was a secret and they felt themselves bound in honor to be silent. It was also [in] their [best] interest [to be silent].
Was it not known that the men who had in life been the enemies of the dead Custer [ie. Pres. Grant, Major Reno, Capt. Benteen, etc.] were more than ever his enemies now that he was dead? How then, could a mere subaltern [ie. lieutenant] dare to express an opinion? He must speak official language or he must prepare to be jumped, that is, pounced upon at some unwary moment and treated with the full rigor of military law, driven from his profession, and made a beggar upon the world after years of meritorious service. What wonder that men who know the whole truth refused to speak their own thoughts and merely echoed the official language [ie. the official interpretation of who was responsible for the disaster].
But little by little the truth came out; words spoken at every unguarded moment and dropped in the heat of argument, simple questions answered by officers and [enlisted] men, and the whole joined together and connected has produced the conviction that there was blundering want of soldierly sympathy -- a failure on the part of men to do their duty, or lukewarmness in supporting General Custer -- that might be called an ugly name [ie. incompetence]. The whole truth of the Custer massacre will never be known unless the American public demand a full and searching investigation, when every man who was in the fight on the 25th of June at the Little Big Horn will be compelled to tell what he knows. [Note: Sadly, as all historians and students of the battle know, this was never done.]
There is buried with the dead a terrible secret; but the witnesses still live, and the government can learn the whole truth if the government wants to know it. [Note: It is apparent that the government wished just the opposite.] Then can be settled forever the question of whether the massacre of the Little Big Horn must be charged to rashness of the dead [Custer] or prudence of the living [Reno and Benteen]. The issue is a fair one and must not be evaded. Either Custer or the men who survived him [ie. Reno and Benteen] must be made responsible for the lives lost on the Little Big Horn, and now, while the witnesses are alive, is the time to settle the question forever. [Note: This question has still not be settled over 140 years later.]
Correspondent James O'Kelly article: A Review of Custer's Fight the Little Big Horn published in the September 21, 1876 New York Herald, with my annotations in brackets: PART II
CUSTER'S ATTACK JUSTIFIED
That Custer was justified in making the attack on the village will hardly be questioned by any officer who has had any experience of Indian fighting. On that point, the opinion of officers of the Seventh cavalry is unanimous. Even today they believe that had the 600 men who rode after Custer's flag come into contact, as a body, with the Indians, success would not have been doubtful for a moment. [Note: In other words, all the officers of the 7th agreed that had all 12 troops of the 7th Cavalry engaged the enemy together the battle would have been won.] The question, therefore, hinges on the description of the troops in the actual fight, and naturally involves the consideration of how far Custer's plans were carried out by his subordinate officers [ie. Reno and Benteen] and what amount of co-operation he received at their hands.
There is the story of the [Reno] fight in the [valley] bottom, about which various versions are given even by those who happened to be engaged in it. [Note: In other words, there are conflicting accounts given by the survivors of the Reno Valley Fight.] An investigation would throw some curious light on the actions of prominent actors [ie. Major Reno and Capt. Moylan], and bring out in bold relief names that have scarcely been mentioned in connection with the fight, or the route, as one may choose to view it. According to the official report, the three companies in the bottom under Major Reno were overwhelmed by a mass of Indians and compelled to take to the woods [ie. the timber position]. A prominent actor in the fight assured me that when the skirmish line retired to the woods there were not fifty Indians actually engaged [directly] with Reno's command. [Note: The remainder of the Indians in that vicinity remained about 600 yards or more away atop the upper bench land guarding the approaches to their remaining horse herds.]
It is extremely doubtful whether more than one man was struck by a hostile bullet when the skirmish line retired to the woods. [Note: This comment by O'Kelly is quite accurate. The evidence would suggest that only Sgt. White of M Co. had been wounded in the arm prior to the withdrawal from the Valley skirmish line back to the timber. During the withdrawal, Sgt. O'Hara of M Co. was also stuck by a bullet, which later proved fatal.] Nearly all the men [of Reno's battalion] were killed while getting their horses or on the way to the ford [during their retreat from the valley]. There was a great deal of confusion and the ride to the ford [ie. the retreat crossing -- not really a ford] was something like a stampede, with Reno at the head. Opinions are divided also as to whether the position ... [unintelligible] in the bottom was tenable or not. One cool-headed man assured me that fifty men could have held it against 500 Indians.
INDIANS IN RENO'S FRONT
The mass of Indians who moved into the bottom took no part in the fight against Reno's command. As they moved out from their village they caught sight of Custer on the bluffs and turned off to meet him and prevent him falling on their women and children. The story that they first overwhelmed Reno and then turned to Custer is pronounced a fiction. [Note: The overwhelming majority of Indian and participant accounts contradict this conclusion, indicating that the start of the Custer fight did not begin until after Reno retreated from the valley.]
Some of Reno's command fought with great bravery, especially Captain French, who was the last man to cross the ford in the retreat [from the valley]. He remained behind his company, and at times was completely surrounded by Indians. Major Reno led the run to the bluffs, as he tells us in his official report, but there it is called a charge, though there were no Indians between the bluffs and the retreating cavalry to charge. When the retreat began from the [Valley] skirmish line only one man [ie. Sgt. White of M Co.] is known to have been wounded.
Correspondent James O'Kelly article: A Review of Custer's Fight the Little Big Horn published in the September 21, 1876 New York Herald, with my annotations in brackets: PART III
The number of Indians actually engaged with [Reno's] troops [in the Valley Fight] at this point did not exceed sixty. All the men who were killed in this command fell while getting their horses [in the timber] and while they were retreating across the ford to the bluffs, except the wounded men, who were abandoned in the retreat. The handling of the troops on this occasion has been very severely criticised.
On entering the [valley] bottom they were first deployed as [dismounted] skirmishers, and then [after retreating to their mounts they were] mounted and dismounted several times within a few minutes without any apparent cause. The soldiers were withdrawn from [the] skirmish line after they had fired a few shots at the Indians who were a long way off, and there was no defense [made] of the woods worthy of the name. All this conspired to demoralize the troops and the manner in which the retreat was conducted caused it to degenerate into a stampede.
There is a strong impression that had a stronger fight been made in the bottom the Indians could not have overwhelmed Custer with their whole force. It must be kept well in mind that the whole Indian force withdrew and concentrated to attack Custer as soon as Reno had retreated to the bluffs. The statement [from Reno's official report] that the Indians remained in front of Reno's position firing dropping shots is absolutely contradicted by officers who were present. The Indians left Reno severely alone on his hill, and for an hour [ie. from 2:45 to 3:45 pm according to the Participant Timeline] heavy firing was distinctly audible in the direction Custer had taken.
According to Captain Benteen's own statement he arrived on the field at the moment when Reno's command were escaping [the valley] up the heights [of Reno Hill], and immediately joined his forces with those of Major Reno. There were then six companies [of the regiment's left wing] assembled on the hill, increased soon [ie. about an hour and a half later according to the Participant Timeline] to seven by the arrival of Captain McDougall with the pack train; that is to say, there was a force more numerous that that with General Custer, and who can doubt that the dead hero's eyes were after turned backward along his trail watching for the cloud of dust that would tell him [that] his troopers were coming like a whirlwind to his support.
But they came not, and no serious effort was made to reach him. When Reno's command took position on the hill, the Indians disappeared and went over the range of lower hills that hid Custer and his gallant men from view of his seven companies that were drawn up upon the hill under Reno, with not an enemy in view; with not a soul to bar the way, while the roll of the rifle volley [fire heard] across the hills told that Custer and his men were fighting for their lives.
what source did Kelly use for only use for his 60 engaged Indians?
Gerard, DeRudio and Davern made a distinction in their testimony between the warrior force either circling or standing well out of carbine range, several hundred strong, and the warriors actually closing to within 200 yards, ranging from 30 to 50 men. Dr. Porter did likewise, estimating that Reno faced at first about 50 warriors, although later on “there were 75 or 100 Indians fighting him there.”
O’Kelly makes his point clear: he is referring to the number of warriors “actually engaged with troops”, not to the total number present in the valley. This said, it’s obviously unfair to quote this figure only, and say nothing of the hundreds of warriors threatening or at least discomfiting the troops with their movements or mere presence, even if from afar.
Correspondent James O'Kelly article: A Review of Custer's Fight the Little Big Horn published in the September 21, 1876 New York Herald, with my annotations in brackets: PART IV
THE ADVANCE OF D COMPANY
In the official report [of the battle] furnished by Major Reno, it was stated that Company D of the Seventh cavalry was sent forward to open communication with General Custer. This statement is inaccurate. It is true that D Company, of its own accord and without orders, did move forward to the crest of the the hill [ie. Weir Point] which hid Custer and the men who died with him from the rest of the command [on Reno Hill], but they did so only when tired of the inaction of Colonel Reno's command, while rifle volleys [heard firing] were telling [them] that their comrades were being done to death. Yet 300 horsemen under Major Reno were standing on a hill not four miles away from where General Custer fell, with not an Indian opposing their advance.
When D Company went forward without orders [ed. about 30 minutes after Benteen joined with Reno on the bluffs] precious time had been lost, and the order [from Major Reno to open communication with General Custer] sent after this company was delivered when the company was returning [from its advance north]. Custer's force was then destroyed; but had the seven companies under Major Reno advanced when Captain Benteen's battalion came up [note: Reno would have roughly five companies at that time, not seven] there is no doubt that they could have arrived at Custer's battle field in time to take part in the fight.
If Reno thought it possible for one company to open communication with General Custer, why did he not try to join with his seven [ie. actually closer to five] companies? Why was the mass of horsemen kept idle on the [Reno] hill for a space of time calculated at two hours [note: this is a remarkably accurate estimate of time that Reno remained on his hill before electing to advance towards the Weir Peaks according to the Participant Timeline here. The timeline would indicate this to be from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.], not hurled into the fight when they first arrived [on the bluffs]? What were seven [ie. actually closer to five] companies of cavalry doing gathered upon a hill while four miles away their comrades were fighting desperately for their lives?
When some members of D company reached the summit of a range of low hills [ie. the Weir Peaks] which hid Custer's command from the view of Major Reno's forces, they saw some two miles away [ie. likely Calhoun Hill and/or Finley Ridge area] crowds of Indians on a hill, which is now thought to be the hill on which Custer died. The Indians were riding hither and thither, and on the plains masses of mounted men were swaying back and forth and straggling shots were fired from time to time. It was the end of the tragedy. The last victims were being offered up.
From this it is clear that if seven [ie. actually five] companies, instead of halting on a hill, had advanced at a gallop to where the firing was heard, instead of halting an hour or two on the [Reno] hill, they could have arrived in ample time to have co-operated with Custer. There was nothing to prevent them [from] doing so. The fifty or sixty Indians who had stampeded Major Reno's command [in the valley fight] had gone to take part in the fight against Custer, and Major Reno and his command were left absolutely free until Custer's men had been massacred, when the whole Indian force returned to attack the men who had been standing idle for two hours while these same Indians slaughtered their comrades. How this came to pass, and who is the responsible person must be answered by a searching investigation.
I gained that impression from his 60 engaged comment and his ignoring the hundreds moving to surround Reno's position.
As Jose pointed out to us, Gerard, DeRudio and Davern made a distinction in their testimony between the warrior force either circling or standing well out of carbine range, several hundred strong, and the warriors actually closing to within 200 yards, ranging from 30 to 50 men. Dr. Porter did likewise, estimating that Reno faced at first about 50 warriors, although later on “there were 75 or 100 Indians fighting him there.”
O'Kelly was reporting an important fact related to him that at the moment that Reno's Valley Skirmish line was withdrawn into the timber position, they were actually being engaged by 60 or less warriors. The hundreds of warriors moving about well out of range may have been a concern, but they were not actively engaged in the combat portion of the valley fight until Reno withdrew his skirmish lines and allowed them to close in to his now defenseless timber position.
BE: Is he claiming that Hare lied about his order to Weir or that Reno can't order someone at a later time to do something if they had started in the direction of Custer.
I don't see where O'Kelly lied about Hare's order to Weir, only that it was given to him after D Co. was falling back from its initial advance beyond the Weir Peaks. Nor does he say that Reno can't order Weir to do something at a later time once his troop had started out in the direction of Custer. What he did point out was the wrong impression given by Reno in his official report that the D Co. advance towards Custer was initiated by his own orders to do so.
BE: Weir never went past the peaks but the reporter missed where the company had advanced to under Edgerly.
I don't think O'Kelly missed that at all. He indicated that D Co. had advanced to about 2 miles from Custer's field, placing its advance to a short distance above Medicine Tail Coulee.
BE: Again the reporter lacks military mindedness. He ignores the condition of the horses from Reno's command,
Yes, O'Kelly neglects to mention the blown horses from Reno's stampede from the valley. They would need some time to recover. Had they waited for the arrival of Mathey and the advance ammunition mules before moving out to rejoin the battle I doubt many would find fault with that. O'Kelly did seem to feel that a 2 hour delay was quite unneccesary.
BE: he ignores the pack train order and he would abandon it along with wounded.
I think his ignoring of the pack train order for Benteen to have them brought into the valley after his own advance was irrelevant at that point, as Benteen's orders to advance into the valley and pitch into the Big Village therein was moot once Reno abandoned his attack in the bottom. He did not suggest abandoning the pack train at all. I think it would be obvious that the pack train (along with the wounded) would follow up behind the main column as soon as they could.
BE: He would leave the survivors coming from the valley on their own.
I don't think O'Kelly was suggesting that at all. The survivors who had been abandoned in the valley fight would be expected to come up to the bluffs on their own (as in fact they did) and join in with the slow- moving pack train and rear guard.
BE: He doesn't care on his accuracy for actual distance and terrain.
O'Kelly's accuracy on distance and terrain, not to mention his references to time, as related to him by the survivors, appears to be remarkably accurate.
BE: He ignores the hundreds of Indians willing to fight that would not allow an advancement.
Perhaps because the actual participants who were relating the event to him did not mention this fanciful theory held by some today of hundreds of Indians willing to fight to prevent Reno from advancing to contact with the enemy had he a mind to do so. On the contrary, O'Kelly's sources made it clear to him that nearly all the warriors went off to fight Custer's 5 companies, leaving no force behind to hold Reno in place. Had they actually done the latter, D Co. would never have been able to advance to the Weir Peaks and remain out there for two hours.
BE: He wanted the full effect of 7 companies sitting on their horses fully capable of making it to Custer and saving the day.
Yes, O'Kelly was wrong about there being 7 companies ready to advance to Custer's support. Considering Reno's losses during his disastrous retreat from the valley, he actually had closer to 5 companies with which to use to support Custer's wing had he a mind to do so.
I do think we can give O'Kelly's sources credit for exposing a number of well entrenched fictions that have taken root among some students of the battle. The fiction of Reno ordering D Co.'s advance from Reno Hill out to the Weir Peaks to contact Custer. The fiction of many hundreds of Indians actually engaging Reno's valley skirmish line in battle before the line retreated to the timber. The fiction of many casualties being suffered by Reno's men before they retreated back to the timber. The fiction of calling Reno's retreat from the valley a "charge." The fiction that the officers of the regiment were willing to speak freely and truthfully say what they knew to be the truth of what happened that day. The list goes on.
Correspondent James O'Kelly article: A Review of Custer's Fight the Little Big Horn published in the September 21, 1876 New York Herald, with my annotations in brackets: PART V
CAPTAIN BENTEEN'S MOVEMENTS
Captain Benteen also, who in defense of the [Reno] hill, won golden opinions for his great courage and coolness, will have, unfortunately, to explain why his battalion failed to appear at an earlier hour on the battle field. He had returned to the main trail and was following in Custer's wake before the fight began [note: this comment is correct according to the Participant Timeline. Benteen, according to his own recollection, returned to the main trail about 1 p.m., approximately 40 minutes before Reno began his attack on the southern end of the hostile village] and could not at any time have been, during the fight, more than seven or eight miles distant from where Custer fell [note: this statement is likewise essentially correct].
About seven miles from Custer's battlefield Captain Benteen watered his horses at a pool in the road [ed. known today as 'the morass']. While the battalion was halted, Boston Custer rode up [from the pack train], spoke with several officers [ed. among them Capt. Weir] and then rode off to the front. He was found dead by General Custer's side [ed. actually about 100 yards away] about two [sic. seven] miles from this pool of water.
LAST WRITTEN ORDER
"Hurry up. Big Village. Bring up the packs." [Note: The actual written order was: "Come on. Big Village. Be quick. Bring packs. P.S. (or B) bring packs." It is interesting to note how O'Kelly's officer sources interpreted the note as simply: "Hurry up. Big Village. Bring up the packs." A far different cry from many modern day students -- many with their own particular axe to grind -- who enjoy parsing every word and syllable to attempt to demonstrate that "be quick" does not mean 'hurry up.' Apparently no such grammatical gymnastics and contortions were engaged in by the actual participants in 1876. The essential meaning of Custer's last orders to Benteen were as O'Kelly reports: "Hurry up. Big Village. Bring up the packs."]
That order was practically ignored. Captain Benteen and his battalion walked at the ordinary marching pace until the point was reached where Reno's retreating men were seen [ie. near Ford A], then, in combined force [with Major Reno's battalion on Reno Hill], halted for two hours and took no further part in the battle until the Indians came back and attacked them. [Note: the two hour delay on Reno's Hill supports and agrees with the Participant Timeline in this regard. That delay would run from 2:30 to 4:30 pm before Reno finally began his advance towards the Weir Peaks.]
No effort was made to join Custer or follow up the Indians, who withdrew from Major Reno's front to go to attack Custer. The same Indians who fought Major Reno in the bottom took part in the fight against Custer, and had the companies [of Reno and Benteen's battalions] advanced when they assembled on the [Reno] hill they could also have taken part in the fight and Custer might be living to-day. Why Major Reno's command failed to move to the assistance of the General remains to be explained.
A searching investigation would bring to light other and equally startling revelations with regard to the conduct of some of the prominent actors in the fight of the 25th of June, and justice to the living, as well as to the dead, demands that such investigation should be ordered by the government. [Note: It never was, hence, the mystery surrounding the battle along with the startling revelations in regards to the conduct some of the prominent actors in the fight remains to this day.]
The New York Herald aired again the O’Kelly article a couple of years later, at the opening of the Reno Inquiry. It was preceded by a brief introduction under the heading “The Long Delayed Investigation”, with a necessarily uncompromising reference to its sources, other than the deceased Capt. Weir:
“The correspondent’s statements –which we republish for the information of the Court– were based on confidential communications made to him during the campaign by officers and men who had been present in the fight. These charges made against Major Reno by his brother officers were first brought to public notice by the Herald […] Had the Government acted promptly on the Herald’s full and impartial statement of the charges made against Major Reno, the evidence of the gallant Colonel Weir would have settled forever the question of responsibility…”
The officers alluded by the Herald, besides Weir, were very likely the same men Lt. Mathey alluded to in his court testimony:
“I have heard officers talk about the battle; some seemed to think it would have been better to have remained down below […] I heard an officer express […] ‘If we had not been commanded by a coward, we would have been killed’ […] I have heard officers in talking about the matter say they thought Major Reno had lost his head, or words to that effect”.
Along with DeRudio (the only officer Mathey wished to identify) Capt. French might also be counted among the Herald’s informants, given the tenor of French’s letter to the Cooke family. And also Gibson, since a few days after the battle he was of the opinion that “Reno did not know which end he was standing on, and Benteen just took the management of affairs in his own hands, and it was very fortunate for us that he did.”
Thus, there’s little to suggest that O’Kelly fabricated the opinions and facts he reported; but there’s no doubt either that these were chosen and presented in a heavily biased way to build a case against Major Reno. Actually there’s no room in the article for the Major’s version, or that of the officers who shared his views.
And a curiosity: The erratum in the 1876 edition which put Benteen’s morass first within 7 miles, and then within 2 miles of Custer Hill, was amended in the 1879 edition to read “seven miles” in both cases.
Post by benteeneast on Mar 24, 2016 8:13:28 GMT -5
I believe the quote used below by Kelly is false in that it is not the last written order.
LAST WRITTEN ORDER
"Hurry up. Big Village. Bring up the packs."
In Bill's interpretation of it he credits some anonymous source. The header above states last written order. It's does not give the factual order as written along with a anonymous source interpretation as Bill suggested. In typical keogh fashion he created something that is not within the written newspaper article.
I can find no use of quotation marks for statements made by anonymous sources. I did a search of this page and could have missed them but I read several accounts that Kelly states he received particular confidential information without using quotes.
O'Kelly was the first to put into print the dissatisfaction of the official reports and framed up the saga that we discuss today. From Reno's order to withdraw the skirmish line while only one soldier was wounded. Reno latter admitted he did not view the line when he issued the order. Reno's charge to the hill top and the waiting atop the hill while gun fire was heard downstream. O'Kelly also brings into question Benteen's actions after receiving the Martini message. To my knowledge only three men viewed the message; 1-Benteen when he met the messenger, 2-Weir as he rode up to Benteen as Benteen handed Weir the note and 3-Reno when Benteen met Reno as Reno rode out to meet Benteen who handed Reno the message. I do not know of anyone else that claimed to see the message, including Terry. O'Kelly clearly did not see the message even tho Benteen still had the message in his pocket. The "hurry up" statement leads me to believe O'Kelly was talking to Weir when he quoted the incorrect quote of the message. Weir was that one who was in the Hurry Up mode, from the first he read the message handed to him by Benteen.
"Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." General Gibbon "No, I will not." Custer, noon, June 22, 1876 passing in review.
His grandparents on his father's side came from County Roscommon. His father, John O'Kelly, ran a blacksmith's shop and dray making business in Dublin's Peterson's Lane, which connects Townsend Street with City Quay. He also owned the Cumberland cottages off Westland Row. He was educated in Dublin. He was sent to London at a very early age to learn the craft of sculpting from his maternal uncle John Lawlor, however, on his father's insistence, he returned from London to take up an apprenticeship in the family business.
After his father's death in 1861, the Dublin properties were sold and the family moved to London. James returned to John Lawlor's studio where he worked for two years before departing to join the French Foreign Legion.
He went with it to Mexico. Around 1865, O'Kelly deserted from the French Foreign Legion and escaped to Baltimore. Although he returned immediately to London, it was his first contact with America. Having establishing himself as a journalist in London, he made a return visit to America to see John Devoy in 1871. He secured a position with the New York Herald as a journalist. He was very successful with this paper and became Drama Critic and Art Editor. Aside from this occupation he dealt in paintings through the Goupil Gallery on Fifth Avenue. This episode of his career may have spanned the best part of twenty years. It is probable that the connections established there were instrumental in Aloysius O'Kelly's later move to America.
In 1877 O'Kelly persuaded John Devoy to take a positive approach to the Irish party's policy at Westminster. The following year O'Kelly arranged a meeting between Clan na Gael's William Carroll and Irish parliamentarians. This was flagged as a New Departure.
O'Kelly reported on the revolt in Cuba. Escaping imprisonment by the Spanish, he joined the US troops in their campaign to eliminate the Sioux chief, Sitting Bull. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
No matter how good you are, you have to get there first...
O'Kelly deserted after four years serving with the French Foreign Legion in Mexico during the American Civil War. He probably left as the Legion was being pulled out of Mexico, so that he could stay on this side of the Atlantic.
He then served as a war correspondent for three or four wars around the world.