Perhaps no other person has sparked so much controversy as John Martini's ride did. Seemingly his time's and distances do not always match. Yet to this day no one knows where he departed Custer's battalion, nor how long it took him to get back to Benteen. While both of these questions need to be addressed, perhaps the most interesting is the time he reported. So just how long did it take Martini to make his ride back to Benteen after departing from Custer? I say not over 1/2 hour at an average distance of 2.5 miles. What do you think?
Thank You for your response Gordie: You may find the following interesting:
Two accounts consistent in the details of Martini’s journey are the RCOI and Brininstool’s Troopers With Custer account, where he granted an interview just prior to his death in 1922.
One thing that is consistent is his statement about how long it took after he got the message to return to the same location where they (Custer’s command) had first viewed the village. [Pg. 190 pb edition, Brininstool TWC]: “In a few minutes I was back on the hill where the general and I had looked down at the village. From here I could see Reno’s battalion in action. It had not been more than ten or fifteen minutes since the general and I were on the hill, and then we had seen no Indians…” It was in this same interview where he stated the interval distance between departure and this “hill” this way: “We rode on pretty fast, until we came to a big ravine that led in the direction of the river, and the general pointed down there and then called me. This was about a mile down the river from where we went up on the hill, and we had been going at a trot and gallop all the way. It must have been three miles from where we left Reno’s trail.”
In the COI statements he said [pg. 390 LBH Battlefield edition] “After I started from General Custer to go back I traveled 5(00) or 600 yards, perhaps ¾ of a mile. I got on the same ridge where General Custer saw the village for the first time.
The variance in distance told was between 1/3rd of a mile to “about” 1 mile. I make no excuses for Martini, because these estimates are close enough to determine the truth. Just like the two estimates based upon 5mph (my own) and 7mph (Gordo’s). The time variable’s in both stories remain the same, about 10 to 15 minutes from Custer and Martini being on the hill till Martini returned to that same hill. In other words this 10 to 15 minute estimate of time is round trip time.
Timing: At 7mph over a 15 minute period of time a horse would go about 1 3/4th mile. At 7mph over a 10 minute period of time a horse would go about 1 1/4th mile.
At 5 mph over a 15 minute period of time a horse would go about 1 1/4th mile. At 5mph over a 10 minute period of time a horse would go about 7/8th mile.
What is evident by the timing is that this round trip distance was not over 1 3/4th mile. The gallop speed by the battalion from the hill would indicate that the higher rate of 7mph was used to get there. This would have been:
1) 2 min 25 sec. at 7mph over 1/3rd mile. 2) 7 min 00 sec. at 7mph over 3/4th mile. 3) 11 min at 7mph over 1 1/4th mile.
The later figures over 1 mile preclude any return time for Martini. So his estimate of a mile or less is accurate. The only way Martini gets back to the hill in time; if that distance is 3/4th of a mile, is if he himself spurs his horse at a 7mph rate! This is plausible. But if his horse was slower as he indicated, and because he had to go up hill at that time it may have been significantly less, say 5mph. Here’s where it gets interesting.
A) At 5mph over an 8 minute period of time Martini would have gone 2/3rds of a mile. B) At 5mph over a 13 minute period of time Martini would have gone 1 mile.
What makes sense here is the 3/4th mile in “2” and the 2/3rd mile in “A”. Not only does it match the upper limit, it tells us volumes about the distance. With a reasonable certainty we can say that this interval distance was about 2/3rds of a mile from the hill to where he was sent back from. And it is rather a moot point to argue whether he went 5 mph or 7mph, because half of that round trip journey was covered at 7mph in 7 minutes by the battalion; and whether it took Martini to cover the 2/3rd-3/4th mile back whether at 10 minutes or 8 minutes is of little value. What is of value is that the upper limit has been found. Certain tweaks must of course be made, but too tedious to contend with here.
At the COI Martini stated from this hill he “…went forward on my business. Then I went on to the edge of the stream and about 3(00) or 400 yards above the creek where we watered our horses I met Captain Benteen.” In further testimony he stated in a Q & A session: Q - From that place where you looked down and saw Major Reno’s battalion engaged, can you tell how long it was after that before you got to Captain Benteen? A - I judge it was 15 or 20 minutes. Q - It was pretty soon? A - Yes, sir.
What some fail to judge from this is what he said; that he “went to the edge of the stream” and then from there another 300 or 400 yards to where he met Benteen. The mileage for traveling that 15 - 20 minute time-frame is?
A) 1 ¼ mile at 5mph = 15 min. B) 1 2/3 mile at 5mph = 20 min.
C) 1 ¾ mile at 7mph = 15 min. D) 2 1/3 mile at 7mph = 20 min.
What is interesting to note at this point is once again his trip to the “edge of the stream”. The last 1/4th to 1/3rd mile after arrival there being made towards Benteen’s battalion and assumedly away from the “edge of the stream”. What do these figures look like where his trip to the “edge of the stream” is added with the first part of his journey to the hill?
A about 1 3/4th miles from where he left Custer to the “edge of the stream”. B about 2 miles from where he left Custer to the “edge of the stream”. C about 2 1/4th miles from where he left Custer to the “edge of the stream”. D about 2 2/3rd miles from where he left Custer to the “edge of the stream”.
The maximum distance from where he left Custer to where he went to the edge of the stream was about 2 2/3rds miles, this based upon a 7mph average speed, which he himself freely admitted time after time that he did not do, and possibly did not do because his horse had been wounded, a fact Benteen pointed out. The total elapsed time from when he left Custer to where he met Benteen? 30 minutes.
I think that you've made things too difficult for yourself, and for everyone else too. Custer saw Reno advancing down the valley from a point just downstream from where Reno later "forted up." From there, Knipe was sent back with the orders for the pack train and Benteen [if he ran into him].This occurred at H1505 [Harper Time]. Ten minutes later, at H1515, he had seen the northern portions of the village and an exodus of people toward the north, and sent Martin back for Benteen with the Come On! order. The impeti [or uses] being that he now had a better idea of what he was up against, in general, had seen the dust of the train and Benteen, and had decided to head off the fleeing hostiles.
Martin went back from the head of the large draw east of SSR, at what he described as a jog-trot, and reached Benteen at H1535 . This meeting took place not far from where, as he said, Custer had watered his horses earlier [about H1430].
I gave the distance off the top of my head too. I have not measured it, although I have done a topo map of the route from the watering place to where Custer topped out on the north side of MTC. Looking up at that map, which is pinned above my desk [that shows you how lazy I am], I would estimate the distance from the watering place to where Martin was sent back at 2 1/2 miles [it is not a straight line]. Add another 1/4 mile or so to where he met Benteen, and there you go - say 2 3/4 miles [probably less, for Martin would have seen Benteen without having to go back to the watering place] in 20 minutes, and you have an average speed of around 7 1/2 to 8 mph, some of the distance downhill.
There are still some questions about Martin's trip, the most obvious one being where did he get his replacement horse from. I can see our readers diving for their books or notes now. LOL.
I am perfectly satisfied that I have Custer's route right, and that the timing is correct to within a couple of minutes either way, bearing in mind that these times are based on Wallace's observations, and extrapolated therefrom, which doesn't really matter - I just threw that in to start another sun transit and declinations of the constellations argument. Son of LOL
If you would like a copy of the timeline of troop movements from H1200 to H1630, a hundred bucks will do the trick. LOL rides again.
For some timing and horse movements you might consider Wallace's RCOI testimony:
Q. How long after Major Reno received the order to charge the Indians before he effected a crossing of the Little Bighorn River?
A. Moving at a gallop, I think we made the mile and a half or two miles in about 15 minutes. We were moving at an ordinary gallop.
Q. From the point where you last saw Gen. Custer and his command to the point where you finally found his body, what was the distance?
A. It must have been between six and seven miles.
Q. Can you fix the period when you last saw him?
A. It was immediately after we received the order to move forward.
Q. What period of time, in your judgment, would it require for a command equipped as his was to move from that point to the point where his body was found, having in view the character of the country?
A. It would require more than an hour. They could not move at a gallop all the way.
On page 57 he was asked what the hour of clear daylight was, then he said at the season of the year, it must have been a little before 3 o'clock. (after 12 o'clock would be in the afternoon) Sounds like a long morning and a long day to me.
Post by benteeneast on Jan 15, 2009 8:53:33 GMT -5
It seems to me that the answers are do the math answers. If A moves 6 to 8 miles per hour and the distance from B to C how long would it take? In the instance of answering how long it would take to ride to Custer's final location we have the minimum estimated time based upon a known range of speeds. It does not include such things as terrain, recon, alternate routes or stops.
We're back to the textbook average speed for a canter used to answer questions. In the long haul average speeds are fine but when looking at short distances to many other factors could have a greater influence than the cavalry's attempt to maintain constant rate while on the move.
Bc: Ok on your pg. 22 comparison: I will split the difference with you and say 1 3/4th mile at 7mph and that does equal 15 minutes at a “normal gallop”. On your pg. 62 comparison. The actual distance was/is about 5 miles to Calhoun, about 5 3/4th miles to monument hill. 5 miles at 7mph places Custer and his men there in about 40 minutes. 5 3/4th miles at 7mph places Custer and his men there in about 50 minutes. The actual speed lay between these two figures at about 6.5mph, with a time to Calhoun taking about 45 minutes, and the time to Monument Hill taking 52 minutes. Do these minutes count? The answer is yes, because while Reno’s men went to the river, Custer & his men had trimmed 15 minutes off of the 45 taken to get to Calhoun. Now, when one considers that it would have taken about 20 minutes for Reno’s battalion to get to the skirmish line position at the stated 2 mile mark: Where was Custer and his group? 20 more minutes closer to Calhoun, and in fact about 1 mile from there, or about 9 minutes away from arrival there. It is of course unknown just how much time Reno spent in awaiting a reply to his two messengers that had been sent back to Custer, and if we were to compare apples to oranges it probably could have been anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Add this delay, and this would have given Custer enough time to have gone beyond Monument hill by the time Reno arrived at his skirmish line. In fact any delay time by Reno and his men places Custer and his battalion closer to Custer field!
bc & Gordo: Now I’m not going to go into a long drawn out process to explain surrounding events. It just detracts from the comments made by Martini. And these must simply be placed into a proper sequence, place and time before any understanding of a “surround” technique can be applied. Just dismissing out of hand that he didn’t mean what he said, or was lying about it doesn’t make any sense, none at all.
Aw heck Gordie, why retract your mileage and distances now? Was it simply because Martini through statement’s made said that he departed Custer about 600 yards from the river; and then through these statements find that he traveled something like 1 3/4th mile to 2 2/3rd miles from there, and was at that time, some 25 to 26 minutes later - “at the edge of the stream”: And but 1/4th to 1/3rd of a mile from where he met Benteen? Else where would one stand when “at the edge of the stream” when but 1 3/4th mile to 2 2/3rd mile from where he supposedly left and where common perceptions about such a ride began? Now that should have a few diving for their maps and books, don’t you suppose?
Benteeneast: It's more than the math, much more. It's placement, especially when one considers the river, creek or water as a source of reference during their statements. Check out the last para...
Now I know that this subject can’t be avoided. I know everyone will jump on the opportunity to place this event into context with “surrounding” evidence to support their pet theories and or “timelines”. But before you do, consider this: Several statements were made, some by the warriors and some by the soldiers themselves to this effect: 1) The pack train came from one direction, Benteen & his men came from another. 2) Else why those singular observations by the warriors of observing the walking men leading packed mules in a Pack Train on the bluffs and not the mounted soldiers of Benteen’s command be observed? A mistake? Or simply the truth at that moment in time? Now back to our Martini “river run” message.
Fred, when the time comes for the revelation, just e-mail me. Just don’t let that boulder on the precipice drop before you send the message, ok? It can be more depressing than the hangover from a JD all nighter. ;D
Post by benteeneast on Jan 15, 2009 10:40:00 GMT -5
Benteeneast: It's more than the math, much more. It's placement, especially when one considers the river, creek or water as a source of reference during their statements. Check out the last para...
You missed my point they are answering using the math in their head and not from recollection. My quarterhorse walks at 3 mph on the average, canters at 8 mph, and just this Sunday hit a top speed of 34 miles per at a gallop according to my Garmin GPS.
Martini's horse shot and/or tired is slower than Martini's horse fresh and being chased by Indians. That range could 3 be to 30 miles per hour for a short distance.
It seems you are treating these gaits like automatic transmissions (1,2,D or W,T, G) and cruise control with enough horsepower, no pun intended, to handle any terrain. Once a trooper is turned loose on his own he does not have to maintain any regulation gait speed. I would hope that messengers move out quicker than Pvt Thompson's horse. Uphill trot, downhill gallop, canter across a long flat would be my gaits of choice to deliver a message within a few miles if my horse was up to it.
Did Martini pass Thompson's horse since he[Thompson] dismounted and watched Reno about the same time as Martini observed Reno?
As posted by Gordie - Martini states a walk-trot. That should tell a horseman his horse was tired. If he could not maintain a trot which is the easiest on the horse to cover distance then the horse is tired or shot or both. (for Gordie, maybe tired of being shot) Remember though a trot can be obtained in excess of 8 mph when not in a formation and running into a horse in front of you.
Boston, good analysis and comparison. For the record it isn't "my" pg 22 comparison but I was just the messenger relating Wallace's testimony. He was an officer who was there talking about cavalry movements. Something that bares some credence maybe over some manual.
I'm not sure you have much time in your equations for any stoppages and action in the MTC/MTF area.
I agree with B East that it is easy to fall into the trap of an average gait speed when it actually will vary with the terrain. I'll probably never be satisfied with any horse timing until someone actually rides the terrain and times it. Maybe this summer?
FWIW, my informal timeline has the Custer fight ending somewhere between and at least 3 hours to almost 4 hours from the time of separation from Reno. Plenty of time for walks, trots, gallops, halts, gunfights, etc that would be part of any cav battle.
Finally and what no one really seems to address is:
What gaits and speed did all the NA ponies use that were engaged with Reno, then moved to LSH by a circuitious route and then came back engage Reno and Weir point and then Reno hill? What was the NA timeline? Custer was on the jump and the NAs were just reacting. The NAs would take additional time for the communications and reactions before they started somewhere. They chased Reno across the river and up the bluffs before moving north.
Benteeneast: And you missed my point! Please go back and read my #6 post "Aw heck Gordie" paragraph. Now impose your perceptions about when and where he left and went to - upon that. See a trout in the milk yet?
As for gait speeds this aint Rocket Science. This was something that John Gray didn't dream up! It is however something that your own Cavalry used and was documented to use back in 1876. Kinda hard to disagree with something they themselves used, would you not agree?
Many agree that it was near the burning tipi, but then can't agree where the tipi was.
I wrote an article about Fred Gerard and where he was, what he saw, and all the rest. When I started writing it, I thought Gerard was essentially a BSer. By the time I had finished doing all the research, I was convinced Gerard was one of the better witnesses and that I had stumbled onto something few authors were willing to admit or simply had overlooked.
Some of my conclusions: the "lone tepee" we know was not some 4 1/2 miles up Reno Creek from the LBH. That's a myth. I am not saying there was no tepee there; I am saying, if there was one 4 1/2 miles back, it was an irrelevant find.
The "lone tepee"-- actually, tepees... plural!... was only about 1.7 miles from the LBH. This isn't speculation; it is fact. (It also opens up the argument that there may have been a second morass, something "keogh" has been talking about for 2 years and something, I think, you also believe in. Well, there is a good chance you are correct.
My article was published and I got several letters from people who expressed their considerable pleasure in what I had come up with. One of those letters was from an older gentleman-- whose name should be very well known to anyone who reads these boards-- someone I consider one of the great LBH authorities. (And by the way, he is a member of our NYC Round Table.)
He was stunned-- to say it mildly-- at the precise distance I had come up with because many years earlier, he and another well-known LBHer met with the owner of that land. They became good friends (this owner has since died), and he revealed to these two LBHers that while plowing his land-- including the knoll Gerard stood on when he shouted to Custer, "There go your Indians, running like devils"-- he discovered the remains of burnt buffalo hide (tanned buffalo hide seems to have a fairly long half-life, especially when semi-buried). Need we any more proof?
I think it is fairly safe to say one can judge Benteen's relative position from that point, vis-à-vis, his testimony and the testimonies of others.
There are only four reasonably possible routes to MTC. One is West Coulee, which is entirely impractical. The second is Middle Coulee, a brainchild of Jack Pennington, and, like its more westerly cousin, entirely impractical. A third is as Bruce Liddic suggests, along the ridges and intermittent depression he call's Godfrey's Gorge. While certainly possible-- and plausible-- I find it militarily impractical and I therefore eliminate it. That leaves Cedar Coulee. When the militarily plausible links up with testimony from several participants, it becomes the most likely choice. I choose to place the possibility at 90% for Cedar; 10% for the Godfrey's Gorge route; and zero for the other two.
Another thing. Without trying to hurt feelings, I am a little bit tired of so-called "newly discovered" research. The tenor of the times of the 1870's obviates it. Much of the rest falls into the Frank Finkel category of eye-rolling. These stories all smack of conspiracy and I personally believe a conspiracy of more than two is a frat party, not much else. There is not a chance-- and if I am close-minded here, so be it-- that there was a conspiracy of 20 + officers, a reputable doctor, several civilians, a bunch of Indians, and several enlisted soldiers. Not a chance, and that's what it would take to hide the truth from us wolf-hounds over all these years.
I will also state this again: this was the army, not a Parisian street mob. It was an organized, disciplined group of men, many of whom were very well-trained in the art of war, the art of maneuver, the art of tactics. Most-- most!-- were experienced; many were battle-tried. The Imperial German World War I tactician/strategist, Gen. Wilhelm Balck, once wrote, “Bullets quickly write new tactics,” and it was no different at the Little Big Horn. Sharp, fast, harrowing action against a large, formidable, vicious, and very dangerous foe, and there was no time for shenanigans.
In his summation at the RCOI, 1LT Jesse Lee quoted DeHart: “Hesitancy in the execution of a military order is clearly, under most circumstances, a serious offense, and would subject one to severe penalty; but actual disobedience is a crime which the law stigmatizes as of the highest degree.” [Nichols, RCOI, p. 617] Lee added that Benet said essentially the same thing. He then added a third, O’Brien (a “military authority”): “A subordinate on receiving an order must obey promptly and implicitly. No time is left him to reflect or deliberate. He must at once comply with the commands he has received, and perhaps a moment’s hesitation or faltering may destroy plans of such importance and extent. In presence of the enemy more particularly is this mechanical obedience due.” [Nichols, RCOI, p. 618]
Carl von Clausewitz, wrote, “The main feature of an offensive battle is the outflanking or by-passing of the defender—that is, taking the initiative.” He also stated that, “a flank attack—that is, the battle in which the front has been shifted—is more effective than an enveloping one," and “… the aim of the commander in an offensive battle is to expedite the decision. Too much haste, on the other hand, leads to the risk of wasting one’s forces. A peculiarity in most offensive battles is doubt about the enemy’s position; they are characterized by groping in the dark…. The more this is so, the more it becomes necessary to concentrate one’s forces, and to outflank rather than envelop the enemy…. [T]he real fruits of victory are won only in pursuit.”
All of these men were well-versed and trained in this stuff and there was no time-- in the face of a foe who was thought to be running away-- to take ridiculous routes or do anything other than what he was trained to do or experienced in doing. Some of the rub against Benteen is that he took his sweet time in getting to Reno Hill, but even that is wrong, despite circumstances that a reasonable man could use to justify a slower pace.
My very good friend, Clair Conzelman, was gracious enough to share something with us, something I thought was extremely interesting:
"When you wish to force the enemy to fight, a fairly sharp attack in front is often necessary to hold him fast, otherwise he would avoid the turning movement, which is meanwhile going on, either by a timely retreat, or by throwing himself upon the turning column and attacking it whilst executing its movement." (Albrecht von Boguslawski's Tactical Deductions from the War of 1870-1871, 1872, reprinted by the Absinthe Press, 1966.)
So, as I have said in one form or another, the patently clear is the truth. The obvious is the truth. The conspiracies, the "found-documents," the whispers and innuendo are generally nonsense. The only thing we can blame the officers of the 7th Cavalry for trying to hide is in the attempt to shield Marcus Reno from further abuse. Quite frankly, I would have done the same thing. It was over, it was done; what good could come from throwing another life away?
This is a long way from Cedar Coulee, but I am sorry. I am a former soldier and when I look at military events I do so from that perspective. Simplicity rules in 2009; it did when I was in the army from 1962 to 1972; and it did in 1876.
Best wishes, Fred.
Last Edit: Jan 17, 2009 10:09:07 GMT -5 by Deleted