During the RCOI a report was received and published in the Chicago "Times" that a gray horse with U. S. markings came into the possession of Maj J. W. Walsh, Inspector of the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police. An article about this horse written by George Kush appeared in the CBHMA 2003 Symposium collection of papers.
The "Times" asked Maj Reno about the horse. While Reno couldn't say what command the horse belonged to, he did remember that a gray horse was riden by a corporal of Company C who was in charge of the headquarters detail. The corporal was killed early in Reno's fight.
While a corporal of Co C might be riding a gray as a replacement mount, Cpl Henry Mason of the Gray Horse Company (E) was the only corporal Nichols lists in "Men With Custer" as part of the daily fatigue party. If he was with Reno that's one less man killed with Custer and one more member of Reno's HQ.
Last Edit: Mar 22, 2015 11:53:55 GMT -5 by moderator
Does the account state that the horse had Seventh Cavalry markings? My understanding is that troop horses bore the U.S. brand, and also the regimental number and company letter, so that the horse should have been marked U.S 7 C [not necessarily all in the same place].
One should probably bear in mind that U.S. horses might have been captured or stolen during several actions other than LBH. It seems like a stretch to attempt to attach a particular rider to it, given the lack of detail.
There were no trumpeters assigned to the daily fatigue party as far as I've been able to tell from the information in Nichols"Men With Custer." Trumpeters were excused from certain kinds of details. On guard they would be trumpeters of the guard, but they didn't have to flank a post.
As I understand it the fatigue party was to report to the regimental HQ at the end of the day's march. They would return to their companies the next morning. It's not clear to me what they would do if the regiment remained in camp.
Reno made it clear to the reporter that he could not say where the horse came from. Reno's response apparently appeared under the sub-head "Maj. Reno Muses."
Maj Walsh of the CNMP wrote a letter to Gen Terry in which he mentioned "'U. S.' on the nigh shoulder." He didn't mention any other brand. George Kush in his article states that the same horse was previously seen in Sitting Bull's camp by Superintendent Irvine of the Mounties. Irvine in a letter to his sister stated there was a "7E branded on his hip."
Walsh, by the way, asked Terry if he could keep the horse. The request eventually went to the Secretary of War who authorized Walsh to keep the animal. Walsh named to horse "Custer," and it died on 3 Aug 1881.
What interested me was not the horse but that the reporter's question provoked Reno's mention of the corporal in charge of the headguarters detail. The Reno interview is in Utley's version of the RCOI which was taken from the Chicago "Times" coverage.
Reno said his horse and the corporal's horse were together "almost incessently during the campaign." This seems to indicate that Reno was disinclined to return his part of the fatique party to their companies. Pvt Mitchell, one of the men he says he sent with a message to Custer, was also assigned to the fatigue party.
The senior man assigned to the fatigue party was Sgt Connally of Co H. He survived the battle.