I agree that it had always been Custer's way to run about the field, doing his own "leader recons," as we say today. I've never tried to place him on the field at any given time because of this, except for where his body was finally found.
Another trait is that he almost always went with the "maneuvering" element in his battles (but I have found some exceptions). So he would likely be with Keogh and Yates maneuvering to the north rather than with Reno, and later, he would more likely be with Yates making a northerly maneuver rather than with Keogh "holding the fort" on Calhoun hill.
I would think he would have been at ford B with Yates', unless that was really just a feint and the more important location was up on the hill looking back for Benteen, what happened to Reno, or riding toward Custer Hill, on his own again, looking for a place to get around Native resistance to cross the LBH.
Nicely done. As reference, a company column of fours is about 7 yards wide and 30 yards long. The companies don't necessarily have to be in a tight, parade ground formation with respect to each other, though...they may be quite separated making distinct subunits, or they may be in a tight "battalion" formation, with each company side by side very close. I've no indicators either way.
Nice maps guys. Now for comparison purposes is there a similar google map from the same angle that shows Reno Creek/Lone Tipi/ford A on the south up to around Weir Pt on the north? The others seem to have the cart before the horse. I need to see how they got to Sharpshooter.
Since I'm not locked into any theory, I'm looking at all possibilites. I recall a map Fred had with alternate theories of the ride from the lone tipi and one of them included Custer and E troop splitting off to the left and following the bluffs line.
I guess also, if we want to believe Thompson, there would be a personal Custer route and a Custer battalion(s) route(s) as well.
At the RCOI Martini didn't talk about what he saw at the battle. When shown a map that an officer had already identified as the big hill, his timidness would keep him from disagreeing assuming he had any time to study and follow a map 3 years after the fight that was inaccurate anyway.
We also have to look at the timing. First Martini sees a sleeping vill with women, children, and dogs around. At some point Reno is making his charge down the valley floor and he already has masses of NAs massing to his front causing him to stop and form skirmish lines. Reno's opposition didn't happen at a snap of the fingers. Later Custer sees the Reno fight from a hill before sending Martini. On Martini's return trip he sees Reno killing women and children in a vill.
What all this suggests to me is that Custer and Martini's first look at the sleeping vill and Custer's "we got them boys" (or whatever it was) occurred somewhere from Gerard's knoll with burning tipi that was the division point with Reno to include the hill south of Reno Hill, Reno, hill and up to 3411 and sharpshooter.
The sleeping vill could be Spotted Tail's. There are those with Reno's battalion that claim they penetrated a village and planted a guidon. Martini may be corroborating that assertion with his comments about Reno killing men, women, and children. Martini's observation about the killing of women and children couldn't have been made when he left Custer but later on when he was following the back trail to Reno Creek and he got close enough to get his horse shot. This all suggests to me that there was a small vill observable from the burning tipi spot for sure that was the basis to send Reno to attack. This vill (spotted tail's or some other band) had to be observable on Martini's original and return trip.
Anyway, I have to make heads or tails out of Martini's route and observations before I can put much stock into the rest. As it appears now if I remember correctly, Keogh has Martini departing at the base of Sharpshooter and Clair has him departing at Weir point. Thinking about the timing, I put more stock in Keogh right now with another observation point or two points further south. Didn't Custer ride by Reno Hill and can't parts of the vill be observable from there? Reno Hill might be Martini's OP for the killing of women and children or maybe Sharpshooter except he didn't go up there personally. Martini's OP for the sleeping vill would have to be further south.
I also tend to put Custer and his HQ staying closer to the bluffs than his battalion with Thompson's river recon a possibility if I can find a tactical purpose for it.
And before Horsethief mistakenly recognizes my confusion here as confusion, (pun intended) I'm just looking at all angles to see what can be ruled in and ruled out, if anything.
I think Martin was dispatched in the floor of MTC, after the column came down off the Weir/SSR hills. He even says when they got down to the bottom, they turned left (west) and went down a few hundred yards before stopping, and then Custer/Cooke sent off Martin.
I think Kanipe was sent out at the south foot of SSR, just a couple hundred yards north of where Reno later made his stand.
I think these events happened about 10 minutes apart, as defined by Benteen and his officers, and it also defines how long it took Custer to move off the bluff in Reno's defense area to where he halted in MTC.
So I think we have a good sense of the timing...but what was the route? I think the only probably choices are Cedar Coulee (west side of SSR), or South MT Coulee (the east side of SSR), but either way doesn't make much difference to anybody's model, looks to me.
Bill/Keogh & Clair/Conz. I understand your positions regarding Kanipe, Martini, the Hill, and your difference in routes that the Custer wing took. Many others share those models. However, I am trying to play the devil's advocate to see if everything else fits.
Bill has the wing with at least E Co. crossing sharpshooter ridge high enough to be seen by Varnum. That indicates they had to have already started down Cedar and were redirected over to south MTC. Bill probably has that direction/redirection coming from Custer atop Sharpshooter and ahead of the command where he is expected to be. It doesn't rule out that E was separated over on the left flank from the command and was directed across to join the others who would have moved to the right of sharpshooter from the flat. I just don't see the entire wing starting down Cedar and moving over the sharpshooter ridge to get to south MTC. Does Martini and Kanipe have the wing halted at the flat or anyplace else other than the watering spot at the creek crossing?
I somehow don't see Custer being at the top of Sharpshooter just as Reno is leaving ford A. At least not based upon timelines of the Reno fight. I've seen these hex maps for timing for about every spot except between the Lone tipi/Reno division point up to Custer arriving at MTC. That part doesn't add up to me and in my trips to the LBH, guess I haven't been any farther south than the Reno/Benteen defense site and haven't been up Reno Creek either, with or without a paddle. Some of those timelines for Custer and Reno leaving Reno Creek are also going to be based upon where the lone/burning tipi/Gerard's second knoll is. Is it the one a quarter mile from Ford A and then have Reno stopped at the ford for 10-15 minutes to regroup before starting his charge or the knoll up closer to the morass which is further up the creek but might, I repeat might, allow Custer to be on Sharpshooter as Reno starts his charge. Clair, did you do a hex or timeline map of that area that I missed? I've seen one for Reno Creek/Benteen and then Crazy Horse just recently.
And how much time does it take for all those 800 or so warriors to wake up in the sleeping vill, find their ponies, put on paint, and mount a formidable front to Reno? Estimates have Reno moving 10 to 12 mph with a 2 mile charge. Give or take 10 to 15 minutes. Early on in that charge they saw the NAs beginning to mass ahead. Martini saw a sleeping vill. Nothing said about it waking up and moving around. Later he has Reno killing the women and children. And as I recall, Martini did not go to the top of the hill where he was given the note by Cooke. So the sleeping vill and the Benteen note couldn't have happened at the same location.
One of the things that baffles me about this whole business as to question about which route Custer took to get to MTC, is why so many of the theories have him moving off in a circuitous route, either turning North East of just plain East, when he must have known from observation where the Indian camp lay and which direction the river was running.
Two things occur to me about this, firstly he himself wouldn't have necessarily known where Cedar coulee would eventually lead him, and secondly, moving behind, and east of Sharpshooter ridge would leave him in much the same boat. Yes the Crow scouts and Bouyer may have had some input as to the nature of these routes, but somehow I doubt that they knew every nook and cranny of that landscape that well. Yes they may have had a general knowledge, they would have needed to know where the fords were for instance, but where every coulee led?
For my part, in what some may think a somewhat naive interpretation of what might have occurred, I would have imagined that once Custers command had climbed up onto the bluffs they would have become excited, and their blood would have well and truly been up, especially Custer himself.---both Thompson and Knipe allude to this--- and from what we know of the man, I think we can be quite sure that his priority would have been to get into action as quickly as possible, especially given all those fears we hear so much about concerning the worry that the Indians would run before they could be contained. With that in mind, one would have imagined that he would have wanted to take the most direct route to the next useable ford, which of course would mean following the river up towards Weir Point, and thence down one of the coulees---probably Middle coulee-- that fed down towards MTC. Someone, Pennington I think, has puts forward this thesis.
Depending on what version of timing you agree with, I think we can take it that Custer would have at least seen the beginning of Reno's movement down the valley---we have a number of sightings from men on the valley floor who say they saw Custer up on the bluffs, although I think the figures they say they saw, figures they mistook for Custer, may have actually been Bouyer and the Crow scouts. I also think that Custer was still in and around the area as Reno's men dismounted and became engaged, and that that suited his purposes admirably. The enemy was now totally focussed on Reno, thus leaving the back door open for him to strike. So why I have to ask myself would a man in that position start meandering down various routes that appeared to be taking him directly away from where he needed to be?
Have we all talked ourselves into believing the Cedar coulee or East of Sharpshooter theories without bothering to give them any thought any more? Sometimes such ideas become cemented into place so quickly we just accept them without referring back to where the idea came from in the first place. As far as I can remember there is no hard or fast evidence for either route, other than some loose, vague description by one or more of the Crow scouts that might, or might not be describing Cedar Coulee. Apart from the much vaunted translation problems, we also have to remember that the concepts we have of N-S-E-and West, would not have been the natural way an Indian would describe a certain direction if he were asked. Looked at like that I would have to say that this evidence, if evidence it be, is flimsy to say the least.
Two last points. Some stories are so wedded to the narrative of this, or indeed any other event, that rather than discard them as pure nonsense, we try to fit everything else around them, thus bending the whole picture out of shape. Martins story about the peaceful village with children playing and dogs lying about in the sun is in my opinion one of these. No matter how you try to fit it in with all the other evidence, it just doesn't fit. One either has to have Custers command up on the bluffs quite some time before Reno even started his move, but even then it doesn't allow for reports from Reno's scouts that warriors had become aware of them and were moving down the valley, or else, and much more likely in my opinion, assume that he took the words of one of the Custer clan; it may well be Custer himself, which ran something along the lines of, and I paraphrase, ' there they are boys, we've caught them napping, etc etc . . . " and embroidered them over the long years that followed, embroidered them to such an extent that he came to believe that he had actually seen what he had taken Custers words to mean. It's only a theory, but it gets me out of trying to fit his story in.
My last point is a question. So much of the debate as to which way Custer finally reached MTC seems to center on the formation his command was in at the time. Now to someone who has no real knowledge of the pre-scribed formation Cavalry units were meant to be in during that period, I have to ask does it really matter? Were they so hide bound they couldn't improvise if the need arose? Does it mean that they truly couldn't use Cedar coulee if the need arose---and by the way I'm not wedded to a cedar coulee theory--- because it would mean that they would have to break formation? Thompson and Knipe seem to indicate that the men were so excited at the prospect of getting into action on arriving at the bluffs that they almost broke ranks and galloped ahead like so many mad things.
Bluehorse and Horsethief: sounds like it is down to us to challenge the status quo. I know Keogh, Conz, Fred, and the late Gordie all have their well thought out models, but they have to explain away alot of details to make them work. Hope I didn't leave out any other posters who have a complete model. We just raise the details to be explained. Horsethief, don't worry about disagreeing with Clair, that's just the name of the game. Clair usually has a viewpoint to back his model but you just agree to disagree and move on. Besides Clair has been changing his model over time anyway. I've challenge Clair cause I have him in training (unknown to him till now) to put a complete model together and then go present it with his maps and analysis at a seminar at the War college in Leavenworth and at the Point. Then I and other locals get an invite up to the college to listen in.
Regarding the scouts, I agree that they didn't know every nook and cranny. If they did, then Benteen's trip would be a waste. As far as fords go, the whole river was only 3 or 4 feet deep so fordable anywhere. Some are easier than others and some would be easier under fire than others. Didn't need the scouts to point them out, they were already pointed out by the buffalo and travois trails. Just had to follow the trails. Buffalo and travois laden with goods you want to keep dry will migrate to the shallower areas. Scouts weren't rocket scientists, just someone with experience on the plains who can follow signs. Many of the officers and men with the 7th since 1867 had that experience over the years. They chased NAs all over Kansas and beyond.
I wouldn't go so far as having Martini make something up based upon a Custer statement. If he was riding within two yards of Custer, then he would see the same thing Custer did. And if he was riding within 2 yards of Custer and never claimed to participate in Custer's wild ride to the river as viewed by Thompson, then his departure point could not be from the MTC but further south somewhere.
Then we have to reconcile the fleeing village down Reno Creek (ala Doran), the village seen running by Girard at the burning tipi knoll where Reno was ordered across the river to attack, and then the Custer caught them napping and Martini seeing sleeping women, children, and dogs village, the village swarming to check Reno's charge, the village some of Reno's men planted a guidon in, and then the village that Martini saw Reno killing men, women, and children. That's about 6 different village observations if I'm not mistaken. That is why some of those sightings and other occurances happened between the burning tipi and Reno hill and not for the first time at Sharpshooter or 3411.
I'm beginning to take stock in WMRH's account of Custer watching Reno for a while. If Custer was on Sharpshooter, then he knows where all the coulees go and lead to and the total size of the village.
If you are on the prod to attack and believe the big hill where Martini left is Weir point, then Cedar Coulee and maybe then over to Middle and Western is the way to go. I've been following Fred's lead on this at Custer has been on the prod and took Cedar to get to Weir point but I'm waffling now while I look at Martini's route(s).
But if Custer sends his command onto the east side of Sharpshooter to South MT coulee, then maybe Custer wasn't on the prod anymore since he is taking an indirect route. Either route will keep them hidden for the valley NAs. If he has NAs following him on his back trail and watching him from Bouyer's bluff, then they aren't hidden from the NAs anyway. Just suggests to me more and more that Custer's move downriver in support of Reno was more of a flanking and probing action which also explains dividing his wing into battalions. If (and they did) any probes at ford B and fords D weren't viable, that leaves a containment until Terry got there. Any delay going down south MTC would allow more NAs to keep diverting to Reno as he could probably see CH or other Cheyennes preparing to move south.
A move down South MTC doesn't explain a Custer scout to Thompson's ford unless there was an attempt to deliver a message. Any truth to the WMRH account of giving Reno a note from Custer that Reno put in his pocket?
I've thrown enough against the wall today. Absent any other maps, I may have to hold until my next trip to the LBH to view Reno creek and the south approaches. Guess I can look at Doran's model again.
Bluehorse and Horsethief: sounds like it is down to us to challenge the status quo. I know Keogh, Conz, Fred, and the late Gordie all have their well thought out models, but they have to explain away alot of details to make them work.
This is not true, at least not in my case. I do not have to explain away any details. What I have done is eliminate what I consider chaff. Martini is a perfect example. At the RCOI, when his testimony could be read in the newspaper and discussed by his peers or his superiors, he said one thing. He was also under oath. As years progressed, Martini-- like so many others-- claimed to be closer and closer to the action. The two other positions where he claimed to have received the note were iterated many years after the RCOI and each time he was closer to Custer, closer to the danger and the action. Thompson feeds us the same drivel.
What most of you are failing to do-- in my opinion-- is to take the time constraints into consideration. You also fail to take distances and terrain into consideration, especially when you consider the timing issue. The only indication we have of Custer watching the Reno fight comes from DeRudio. Oh, sure, we have all these hat-waving incidents, but if you read what these fellows said, the hat-waving began far upstream from Reno's skirmish line.
And DeRudio was emphatic about where he saw Custer, and it wasn't Sharpshooters' Ridge. Martini's RCOI testimony corroborated DeRudio's claims, so much so that their combined testimonies intersected at the precise spot where DeRudio claimed to have seen Custer and two others. If you don't believe DeRudio could see that far, then how in the Sam Hill could he see an additional 250-300 yards atop Sharpshooters'? And you may want to measure the distance. DeRudio said 1,000 yards and General Hugh L. Scott almost gagged. Reality says DeRudio's 1,000 is closer to 1,400 and Sharpshooters' makes it 1 mile. And people actually believe Custer went to SSR?
I think it was Bluehorse who brought up the Cedar Coulee business and the fact that Custer would not have known what its course was like. And Bluehorse is absolutely correct. We can listen to all these modern-day pontificators and how it would be impossible to squeeze 5 troops of cavalry in that coulee, but then Custer would not have known that, would he?
As for the foliage, were any of these critics there at that time and was the foliage as prolific then as now? And who is to say what formation Custer used getting down that coulee? We have witnesses who said the command mounted the hills, 5 companies abreast. We have Varnum's testimony saying he saw only the Gray Horse Troop as he began to move behind Reno's skirmish line. Well, then, that means Custer changed formations as he swung toward the bluffs and the field of advance narrowed. We have all sorts of testimony about Reno changing formations as he crossed at Ford A, then again through the woods, then again into the valley. DeRudio said he saw signs of a formation change in MTC. Martini said the command never stopped, even as it entered the coulee, though it did slow down. That can only mean Custer was changing formations again. And who is to say he maintained the full complement of men in the coulee? Maybe he mounted the sides and rode along its crest with one or two companies. The coulee' s sides aren't that steep.
Again, however, all of this has to fit within very strict time constraints, bordered on the outside by about 3:10 pm. That's when the volley firing was heard. On the other side you have to use about 1:53 pm. That's when DeRudio saw Custer, et al, arriving at the edge of the bluffs. Custer would not have spent a lot of time there, so we can figure he reached the top of Cedar by 2 pm. That gives him 1 hour 10 minutes to move his men through tough Cedar Coulee, start down MTC, and mount the ridges to Luce Ridge. Cedar Coule is about 1.2 miles and its mouth is about 1.4 miles from Luce. That's 2.6 miles. The top of Luce is about 3/4-mile from the edge of the bluffs overlooking Ford B. Now you are up to almost 3 1/2 miles. Just about 1 hour to go 3 1/2 miles down a difficult ravine, switch formations, mount a steep angle, switch formations again, look around, instruct one battalion to remain back, and then head down toward the ford.
Where is this extra time coming from for all these little soirées? Or do we simply ignore what so many Indians said about battle duration? Do we figure all the officers and enlisted men made stuff up about pack arrivals and trips to Weir Peaks? And if you believe Custer saw Reno retreat, then you must cut that time in half.
It's like Reno's skirmish line... and those who say he was on the valley floor for only 10 minutes. Then how could an engineer officer who was there two days after the fight measure a skirmish line almost a mile long... almost exactly where someone dug up a bunch of artifacts many years later? And if all the horses were in the timber, how did those guys manage to get 8/10 of a mile away--and back-- in 10 minutes, all the while firing, re-loading, lying down, getting up, advancing, etc.? And how could an A Company sergeant absolutely swear he was the last guy on the left of the line when we know A Company was the "middle" company? Yet if that sergeant told us the moon was blue that night, we would believe him because he was a trustworthy man. Again, this too is a matter of timing.
I am sorry to have gone on for so long, especially since I have not been much of a participant lately, but I have read a few of these posts and I believe some of you are losing sight of what is important. At least I believe it is important. I do not object to disagreement, but I do take issue, Britt, with your comment above. Any theory of this battle must eliminate some testimonies. Again, I point to Martini. I simply choose to accept earlier testimony, testimony that can be critiqued by the man's peers, testimony that corroborates and is corroborated by the testimony of others. The "lone tepee" is another example. Was it near Ford A or was it 4 1/2 miles from Ford A? Only one answer is correct, but you must be able to cite better evidence for your choice. The only "explaining away" I have done is to eliminate bogus theories... or what I believe to be bogus theories.
I have tried my best to make whatever theory I post as simple as possible, as logical as possible, and as realistic as possible given the constraints of time and distance. (Speed is too ephemeral because of its variations and all the stopping and starting; besides, too much of speed is a function of other factors.)
Best wishes, Fred.
Last Edit: Dec 18, 2009 19:40:39 GMT -5 by Deleted
Thanks for the response Fred. No offense intended. To set the record straight, I was lumping you in with the few here that I know of here that have/had complete models. I'm not necessarily lumping you in with anyone who has some explaining to do. Nobody has to explain anything to me except through their generosity. I was just trying to start an academic discussion regarding Martini and where he left the command just for my own piece of mind as I haven't visited any portion of the battlefield south of the Reno/Benteen defense site. And I'll probably never have any piece of mind till I can walk and/or ride that area.
A lot of this including Martini's later stories and Thompson's story I am hearing for the first time on this board. I haven't ruled anything in and anything out. In my way of thinking, there are enough possibilities and models, that it is easier to rule something out and then see what is left. Guess I've always followed the classic model that Martini left Custer at Weir point. I think Bill and Clair have different versions. I forget where you had his departure point at but I remember us discussing it on the other board a couple years ago. Didn't see it in your post above.
My explaining comment was directed more to Bill and Clair as Bill has Martini leaving at Sharpshooter and Clair has him leaving at MTC and Wier is about in the middle.
Since these Martini and Thompson stories are kinda new to me, I just want to take a fresh look. I just want to look at the southern hills to rule them in or out. I want to look at whether or not Thompson and Watson fell out further south than we have them. Haven't ruled his Custer observation in or out either. Haven't settled on a purpose for a Custer ride down at the river either. I'm also looking at the NA stories to see if they fit in anywhere logically.
I do think that if we draw a line roughly east/west from Reno's first skirmish line, Custer would probably be close to that line up on the bluffs at the same time, give or take. And we know that Martini didn't run into any of Reno's men coming up Reno Hill. I just don't know how the rest of the timing works out.
I am with you, Fred, on the Cedar Coulee route as it was closer to the river and still kept them out of sight from the valley. It's not like Cedar coulee was the Wilderness or something. Heaven forbid if they didn't learn to dodge a tree or two in four years of the civil war in East coast forests.
forgive my rant - but so many things i read on this board and others are based on the timing or the impossibility of some rider to be at a certain place at a certain time - people discount testimony of people that were there because THEY DON'T THINK it could have happened - in Fred's post he described two different groups of three men in pretty much the same place at different times - which group was seen and at what time? - a good horse can run a mile in 10 minutes easily - the volleys seem to be an occurrence that we can set our watch by - but who's watch will we use? - how has the terrain and vegetation changed in 100 years? - my point is any model will work if it falls into the time frame - you cannot discount testimony if it works within that framework - it seems to me that there is a model/models that we can agree on - leaving our personal opinion out - kind of like scientific theory - and then attempt to prove or disprove ,and then modify, based on artifacts and/or corroborating testimony that have or have not yet been discovered - it appears that Custer was overrun by a vastly superior force who could shoot more accurately from horseback and were not afraid to die fighting at close quarters - and it happened very quickly - Reno's rout up the hill happened in minutes - Custer's took a little longer - we should probably all buy a Cadillac metal detector and wait for the next opportunity to search the path we wish to prove/disprove - and we should collectively work on one model - time will tell - d
Last Edit: Dec 19, 2009 2:07:42 GMT -5 by Horsethief
I may have phrased that poorly. I would not take offense from anything you say so there is no need to apologize... you and I have a fine relationship and I truly appreciate your friendship. I just did not want you to read me wrong, that's all. Sometimes our words are said in such a way as to conduct a different meaning and other times a different meaning is construed. That is always the problem with impersonal "message boards."
I am not sure if it was "keogh," or Clair, or Ray, but someone once told me that he tried to accept as much testimony as he could, discarding only the silliest. I have found that to be good advice, and after reading as much as I have over these past 10 or 11 years, plus my note-taking and trying to figure out the personalities of some of these fellows, I agree. There are, however, several simple rules that we must adhere to and I mentioned them in that post. Military operations of this type must be kept simple, objectives clearly defined, even if only in one man's mind. Speed is absolutely essential and "Benteeneast" has helped me immensely with that. And, as I have said so many times, the element of time is the key. Everything must fit within a specific time-frame delineated by logic and distance/terrain. I am forced to reject anything that does not fit within those parameters. They narrow even more when you add in the imponderables such as Indians intervening where we do not expect them to be.
I will try to make a little sense of what I have said, especially about Martini and DeRudio. Below, you will see excerpts and paraphrased commentary from them taken at the RCOI. It deals with the seeing of Custer on the bluffs and where Cooke handed Martini the message. Please look for the tie-in between the two testimonies and see how accurate they are when linked together.
Martini at the RCOI— 1. The Gray Horse Company was in the center of the column.  2. They could see the river when they were on top of the ridge.  3. They heard no firing as they went down a ravine.  4. They always moved at a gallop.  5. “We went more to the right from that ridge and went down to a ravine that went to the river. At the same time General Custer passed that high place on the ridge or a little below it he told his adjutant to send an order back to Captain Benteen.”  6. He was asked if Custer went there and he said no, only the Indian scouts did.  7. It looks like Martini was given the note right near the head of Cedar Coulee.  8. [The head of Cedar Coulee is close to 1/2 mile upstream—before—from Weir Peaks and loaf. The coulee head would be reached well before the command reached Weir Point.] Martini said it was the highest point and it was 500 yards from the head of the coulee.  [The place where DeRudio saw Custer was almost exactly 500 yards upstream from the head of the coulee, but Weir was farther away—and downstream—than 500 yards.] 9. [The topo map shows a high point—3,411 feet—just downstream from Reno Hill and about 3/10 of a mile—500 yards—upstream from the head of Cedar Coulee. This high point is only 2 feet less than Weir Peaks (3,413 feet). The topo map shows Weir to be close to 1/2 mile downstream from the head of Cedar Coulee.] 10. Cooke told Martini to follow the same trail they had come on and to hurry. [390 and 391] • Martini was with Cooke for no more than 10 minutes.  • The river could not be seen from here, Martini said.  11. Martini said Custer did not stop; Cooke stopped to write the message.  12. Martini rode back some 500 or 600 yards—maybe 3/4 of a mile—and went on the same ridge where Custer had seen the village. [It is hardly believable Martini would have ridden up to Weir Peaks.] He looked into the bottom—but he did not stop—and saw Reno’s command engaged. 
DeDudio at the RCOI— 1. DeRudio stated that the only time he saw Custer was when he—DeRudio—was in the timber.  [This is where it gets interesting.] 2. He claimed he saw Custer, Cooke, and 1 other man.  [TWC? TMP Martini?] • Q: “State whether you saw the column of General Custer, or any portion of it, at any time after Major Reno parted from him at the abandoned tepee, if so, where and what effect did what you saw have on you.” A: “I did not see any part of the column of General Custer. The only observation I made was while I was in the woods. General Custer, Lieutenant Cooke and another man I could not recognize came to the highest point on the bluff and waved their hats and made motions like they were cheering, and pretty soon disappeared. I judge by that that probably his column was behind the bluffs.”  3. Q: “Where was that?” A: “It was on the highest point on the right bank of the creek, just below where Dr. DeWolf was killed.” Q: “Did you see the place generally known as the point Captain Weir went to?” A: “Yes…” Q: “Was General Custer on that point?” A: “No, on one nearer the river and the highest point on that side. [From where DeRudio was, the bluffs appear higher than Weir Peaks!] Where I saw General Custer the river comes right under the bluff. The bluff comes in very narrow there, hardly wide enough for a horse to stand on.”  4. This was 1,000 yards away.  [If I figured DeRudio’s position in the timber correctly, it was more like 1,400 yards away.] 5. DeRudio thought this spot was about 500 or 600 yards downstream from Reno’s position on the hill.  6. DeRudio was insistent it was the highest point and he even went there with Benteen on the 27th.  • This sighting occurred about 4 or 5 minutes before Reno retreated from the timber.  It was 5 or 6 minutes after DeRudio had reached that spot 1 1/2 minutes after entering the timber.  7. DeRudio looked at his watch shortly after the command left. It was about 2 o’clock.  • He kept looking at his watch every 10 minutes or so.  [Seems like nerves to me!]
In the photo below, Sharpshooters' Ridge is the ridge on the skyline in the right side of the picture. It is just above the horizontal, light green area. If I am not mistaken, the DeWolf and Clear markers are barely visible on the right-hand slope of "3411," just above the left clump of branches on the tree in the right of the picture (the tree has three "clumps" of branches).
Note the vehicle. SSR is to its right and above it. These two photos were taken closer to the river than DeRudio was when he made the identification. Put three riders atop SSR and tell me if you could make them out.
Now... look at Martini/1. The Gray Horse Troop was in the center of the column. If Varnum saw only that troop, that indicates to me Custer had already changed formations, something he was willing to do based on the terrain..
Next... Martini/2 and /3. They could see the river when they were on the top of a ridge and they went down a ravine. You cannot see the river from the top of Sharpshooters'. Plus, where is the ravine from SSR? One doesn't flow from the other; you would have to descend SSR and there is no ravine on the ridge's east side. Also, if Varnum saw the Gray Horse Troop, then the troop would have to be on SSR or else Custer would have had to stop them and mount the ridge himself. Does that make sense? Look at Martini/4.
Now go to Martini/5. The ridge he is referring to is Weir Peaks and the "high place" is what I call "3411." Martini uses the same terms all through his testimony. Pick out the "high place" in the first photo. That picture was taken from the middle of the valley, yet the "high place" is still clear. The next two photos are much closer to where DeRudio was when he saw Custer, but I am getting ahead of myself here.
A little below it is when Custer told Cooke to write the note and as you can see (Martini/6), only the scouts went up to Weir.
Now look at Martini/8 and /9. He was not referring to Weir because Weir was too far away. The "high point" was 3411 and it is almost exactly 500 yards from the head of Cedar Coulee. [Britt, you and I saw that in June.] Now go to Martini/12. Again, there is that 500 yards; a different event, but using the same measurement.
Now look at DeRudio. DeRudio/1 and /2 set the picture. DeRudio/3 is important. It describes perfectly exactly where Custer was when DeRudio saw him. If you look at DeRudio/5, it gives you the distance from the opposite direction that you got from Martini. If you take a ruler and measure the "500 or 600 yards" from where Reno's position on the hill was, then measure Martini's 500 or 600 yards, those two measurements come together precisely at 3411.
Finally, look at DeRudio/7. Not only does he gives us a fairly precise time, but he follows it up by saying he kept looking at his watch. No one else gives us that much information about times. If you can pinpoint what time standard they were using (and I have my own opinions on that), then this DeRudio "time" can be used as a benchmark for times of events before 2 p.m. and after 2 p.m.
In all the work I have done there is not another instance of as much "proof," i. e., testimony coming together to fit so perfectly. When you start backtracking in time and you add distances and other testimony, you can pinpoint events from the "lone tepee" with considerably more accuracy. Conversely, when you go forward from DeRudio's time and consider the testimonies, you can pinpoint other events like the volley firing.
Then, if you can pinpoint the time of the advance to Weir Peaks, put that in with what was seen, you can get a general feel for how long the Custer battle took to unfold and end. When you compare that to testimony from people left in the timber, i. e., the firing ended at such-and-such-a-time, etc., you can corroborate what was claimed about the Weir move.
Another thing this all does is to place events in much more of a "straight-line" pattern. No side trips, no hills to climb, no bluffs to scale, no pauses to justify. The "times" fit in with temperaments and distances. Virtually no individual is excluded from contributing, though some of the latter-year testimony is excluded... or rather, discarded. In 1879 events were much more clear in participants' minds and the whole saga was a lot younger without the interference of the press and the interlocutors.
Thanks Fred,and Merry Christmas to you too.. I trust you will excuse my absence lately. I have had major electrical problems at the house. Fried one computer and two modems. Kept blowing out light bulbs, lived on kerosene lanterns for four weeks. Enjoyed your post especially the photos.
Thanks Fred. Sounds like you and Bill/Keogh appear to have the same or in general about the same area for Martini's departure around the head of Cedar coulee which is at the base between hill 3411 and Sharpshooter ridge.
I may have to print out your post and go over it a few times to get the full affect. I've never been good at scrolling up and down on a computer when trying to go back and forth to compare points. It's much easier to have it all in front of me. I'm fairly sure that a Martini departure point around there can't be ruled out.
Now I want to see if Clair's MTC departure point for Martini can be ruled out or if it remains in the realistic realm of Custer battle models.
Fred, your #2 for Martini viewing the river from the ridge, do you have that at the Reno hill area? And where do you have his sleeping village sighting?
Also, your #3 for Martini, do you (as I do for now) think that he was referring Cedar Coulee thinking that it went towards the river cause it sure looks like it ought to even though the beginning slope is so gradual you don't see where it really goes. I think a Martini departure point there still allows for a Thompson dropout in the same area or further north.
Does your 3411 pics have someone standing there or is that the corner post of the fence for the Realbird property where the fence comes in from the north and then turns west?
I still want to try to figure out if a Reno hill departure point for Martini would work or can be ruled out. At least narrow down the range where he left.
Larry, sounds like a loose neutral problem. If you can't identify it with a particular circuit or your main panel, then check with the neighbors. Could be a loose neutral on the transformer on the pole. Contact the power company about that and mention the blowing light bulbs and loose neutral. They should get right on it.
Merry Christmas to all. Only 6 shopping days left.