I think you'll find that Marcus Reno was a dedicated military professional. I believe he always wanted to be a Soldier, and worked his way quite well through West Point. I think his intentions were always to remain a combat officer all his life, and he couldn't bring himself to take off the uniform until he was absolutely forced to. Reno may not have been the best Soldier, but he was a true one. Clair
Sounds like a "patriotic" post rather than a realistic one. Reno did not organize any rear guard at LBH. He fell back first. He left 30 men behind him. He was drunk in duty. He failed to give proper orders (mount up, dismount, mount up!). He never gave any support to Custer. He completely failed to his basic duty and to his mission.
Last Edit: Nov 17, 2018 4:35:34 GMT -5 by moderator
"As I stood looking at [Major Reno] I could not help wondering if he knew what his duty was. Here he was with about four hundred men surrounded by hordes of savages. If ever soldiers needed a good example it was here. Did he show such an example ? Did he show how a true soldier should act under difficulties? And die if needs be in the defense of his country ? No ! Instead of this he kept himself in a hole where there was no danger of being struck and no doubt he would have pulled the hole in after him if he could [have].”
From a Sgt. of Reno’s command: “One of the wounded of Reno's command, who is in the hospital here, says that at one time during the fight they heard the advance sounded on the trumpet from Indians; they all rose up, thinking it was Custer coming to reinforce them, and cheered lustily; when the Indians let forth a derisive yell at them, fired a terrible volley and made a charge” _____ Apparently Indians were using bugles to fool the soldiers.
Sgt. John Ryan: Major Reno . . . and, in fact all of the officers did all that they could in order to defeat the Indians, and some of the officers must have had a charmed life the way they stood up under this heavy fire.”
Pvt. William Slaper: “I observed Reno several times during the fighting on the bluffs, and can well remember his walking about among the men through the night. He would tap a man with his boot and remark, "Don't go to sleep, boys." I cannot understand why he was not shot down while walking about, as none of the troopers were able to make a move without drawing the fire of the Indians. I know it encouraged his fellow-officers as well as the troopers. I have read articles pertaining to this part of the battle of the Little Big Horn in which it was stated that Reno was drunk. This I brand as a lie. At no time did I observe the least indication of drunkenness on the man, nor see him use any liquor.”
Frank Huston (from accounts told to him by Indians): "I judge that Reno became rattled, but he did not stampede, and saved his command by pushing up the bluffs. That the battalion did stampede I concede, but the Indians had 'put the fear of God' into the men. Reno's record in the War between the States refutes any accusation of cowardice; but he was ignorant of Indian methods of fighting and made a convenient 'goat'.
Last Edit: Mar 26, 2016 2:04:36 GMT -5 by moderator
"What made Major Reno run away when he did I cannot positively know, and he didn’t tell me. (...) To turn ones back on Indians without being better mounted than they is throwing away life. When he started to that hill he had told me, not one minute before, that he was going to fight – it was in reply to a question of mine. "
So we have a wide number of reasons regarding Reno, the timber, and his retreat.
It's obvious that there is no clear-cut opinion on what was the best thing to do WHILE it was happening. Hind-sight is often used by many to determine Reno's actions.
Reno's action resulted in his command surviving. Custer's actions resulted in his command dying.
The main thing I have against Reno is the manner of his retreat. It seems there was very little effort at communication with his officers, and no attempt whatsoever to have any sort of organized rearguard. I have been told several times that there was no possibility of a rearguard, but I find that hard to believe. Surely there must have been some more organized way to pull off a retreat, if retreat was felt to be absolutely necessary?
And while we're on the subject of Ill-treatment toward women, we should also note that Reno himself is something of a rude, sexual brute. His drunkeness has led him to public indecency (whatever specifically that meant), and he made unwanted advances toward the wife of Captain James Bell while he was stationed at Fort Abercrombie. Rev.Wainwright became concerned enough to persuade the Bells to do something. Apparently some of these indecency complaints were waved because they occurred at parties when everyone was rather inebriated and up to no good. But I can at least state that Reno was not quite the foremost gentleman that one should look up to, to say the least.
Post by custerwest on Feb 18, 2008 17:36:32 GMT -5
yes, another example of Reno's incompetence. Herendeen said that there was a very short trail in the timber and most of the soldiers barely fell down while retreating. Reno never checked out his way of retreat - not to say the rear guard or the organization...
tommyk - that is the precise evaluation Reno made and why he chose to leave the timber as recorded at RCOI. I think it was to large of an area for Reno to put up a good defense for an extended period of time. By that I mean a area good for defending should have close enough spacing between troopers where they can see each other and give support fire, 360 degree coverage so there is no flanking or rear attacks, cover for your troops but not even concealment for the enemy, fields of fire by the troopers of several hundred yards and overlapping with adjacent troopers.
Strangely, DeRudio and French said that the position was a very good one, an opinion shared by Colonel Gibbon, US General-in-chief Nelson Miles and Reno Court of Inquiry chairman Jesse Lee.
Post by custerwest on Feb 20, 2008 11:33:47 GMT -5
"obviously" cannot be used in court as evidence...
Fred Gerard said that no more than 20 Indians were in their flank and they even didn't attack them. The "flank attack" was Reno's hoax to explain his cut-and-run movement.
Indians were not excellent in attacking strong, defensive position. In the contrary, it was their worst nightmare. They were a poor offensive force, with lack of organization, very poor leadership (not personal, but overall leadership, with warriors leaving the ranks on their own initiative, without any orders) and therefore suffered high casualties and often defeat in this kind of battles. But when Reno left the timber, he offered a retreating, moving column to the Indians. It was what Indians loved, the kind of warfare they were excellent in: hand-to-hand battles, fleeing enemy on horseback etc.
Custer said that Indians were better than Russian horsemen. Fleeing away without rearguard was suicidal.
French said that he should have shot Reno that day (for cowardice). Gerard said that it was the worst mistake possible to run away in front of Indians.
More interesting, a lot of Indians said that the position was excellent. Red Feather heard warchiefs screaming that the troops were too strong to be defeated. George Bird Grinnell even learnt from Cheyenne chiefs that the Indians wanted to leave the fight because Reno's position was too strong.
Last Edit: Feb 20, 2008 11:34:01 GMT -5 by custerwest
Post by warhorse67 on Mar 14, 2008 23:00:59 GMT -5
Vol. 18, May 2002 Greasy Grass Magazine, published by Custer Battlefield Historical & Museum Association, included a quote from the March 7, 1879 issue of the Wilmington, N.C. Weekly Star (the quote was included in the magazine article written by Ronald Nichols, entitled Reno & Benteen, Perceptions 126 years after the battle). It was a very blunt statement concerning the Reno Court of Inquiry held in Chicago from Jan. 13-Feb. 11, 1879:
"Gen. Reno will probably be regarded hereafter as the man who from either a want of proper manhood, or from an improper jealousy of his superior officer, allowed the latter with his command to be sacrificed without striking one vigorous blow on his behalf. We have not been swift to condemn this soldier, although we knew his moral qualities were low, and that he had been convicted of a gross and wanton insult to the wife of another officer. We have not accused him in advance of an investigation of behaving badly at the battle of the Little Bighorn. It is now clear enough, from the trial, that he did not do his duty on that disastrous occasion when the gallant Custer and his little band rode into the very jaws of death. Gen. Reno was second in command, but he did not second his superior as was expected, but left him to his fate. The testimony elicited by the court of inquiry is not only seriously damaging to Reno, but it places Captain Benteen in a rather ugly light also."
The magazine article also had a quote from Frederick Whittaker, who wrote A Complete Life of General George A. Custer, who stated that the reasons for Custer's defeat were simple:
"Reno's incapacity and Benteen's disobedience."
"This trial has established facts which prove Custer to have been, not rash, but prudent; not defeated by the enemy, but abandoned by the treachery or timidity of his subordinates."
He also ridiculed Benteen as "a hero and a martyr" and that "he gave his evidence like a little man."
I found this article extremely interesting and just wanted to share it & get some of your thoughts concerning it. I have 12 of these wonderful magazines, dating from 1992 to 2004. I will share interesting tidbits from them at times if anyone is interested.
Whittacker got it right from the beginning. His work was later confirmed by Reno Court of Inquiry chairman Jesse Lee and US General-in-chief Nelson A. Miles.
Captain during the Civil War, Whittaker perfectly understood what had happened and if he thanked Benteen for saving the regiment on JUNE 26, he didn't support his non-actions on June 25. He said that Benteen had clearly disobeyed orders and Reno had failed to all his duties.
Thanks for the post, Jeff, it's a very nice catch. Even the "New York Herald" said on July 1876: "seven companies out of the fight when Custer was fighting" The Christian Advocate also condemned Reno because he was drunk (which was true)
bangagong still tries to attack the messenger because he cannot challenge the message.
Last Edit: Mar 17, 2008 8:20:52 GMT -5 by custerwest