From Walter Camp's Field Notes from Lilly Library, Box 7, Folder 3, Envelope 130, with my annotations in brackets:
Thompson. From the coulee [apparently Cedar Coulee] before he left his horse he could see the 5 men of Co. F (sent to scout ahead) going, away out on the side of the slope far beyond Dry Creek [ie. Medicine Tail Coulee] and they were riding at a fast gallop and kicking up a big dust.
Last Edit: Dec 28, 2018 21:02:27 GMT -5 by moderator
A recently unearthed Walter Camp interview with Peter Thompson on Aug. 5, 1909, with my grammatical corrections and annotations in brackets (Note that this interview was taken on the Little Big Horn Battlefield with Peter Thompson, Daniel Kanipe, Stanislas Roy and Curley.) Thanks go to Bruce Liddic, author of Vanishing Victory, for locating his lost interview and making it public once again: Part I
5 men of F Co. left [the column] to investigate[, and likely set fire to, the] lone teepee and caught up [to the column] on Weir Hill, & [then] went on ahead on ahead to [the] high ridge [note: likely East Ridge] about a mile back from Ford B. [Pvt.] Watson's horse fell down in [the] coulee about opposite a point about half way between Reno's retreat [crossing] and Weir's Hill. [Note: This ravine is likely the head of Cedar Coulee.] [Sgt.] Finckle sat on his horse and watched Watson easing his horse's neck and trying to get him up. [Note: Finckle's horse was starting to show signs of playing out, hence the sergeants willingness to halt and watch Watson at this point.] While this was going on, [Pvts.] Fitzgerald and Brennan turned tail [and rode back to the pack train]. Watson & Thompson came up [the] bluff just north of Weir Hill. [Note: Thompson's Weir Hill is likely a reference to Sharpshooter Ridge, rather than the Weir Peaks proper.] Thompson [was] so tired he fell down twice getting up [the] bluff. Watson [was] a better runner, but he staid [sic. stayed] right with me. [We] left [our] horses standing on [the] trail in [the Cedar] coulee, some distance beyond [ a] clump of wild cherry bushes. This clump of bushes is about opposite of Weir's Hill. [Note: It is likely that Thompson's "Weir's Hill" is not what is known today as Weir Point, but rather the end of the southern ridge known today as Sharpshooter Ridge. It is likely Thompson recalled Weir being atop this ridge shortly before moving down to the Weir Peaks with D Co.] [He] did not leave [his] horse until 5 Indians appeared over [the] bluff from [the] river. They did not shoot at me, but aimed at me. I now run eastward up the slope [of Sharpshooter Ridge] to a pile of rocks, thinking to see it as protection. One Indian rode around my horse and went on, and all 5 of them went south along the bluffs. [Note: These five warriors were likely in pursuit of their ponies stolen by Custer's Ree scouts a short time before.]
I found the rock no protection, and as the Indians paid no more attention to me, I ran for the [edge of the] bluff again and followed a long spur out toward the river. ([Camp Note:] This spur is about 900 feet south of south Edgerly [ie. Weir] Peak. I was following some kind of [animal] trail. ([Camp Note:] Probably one made by Indians who fled in advance of Custer; that is, the Indians Kanipe [allegedly] saw and pointed out to [Sgt.] Bobo.) [Note: Walter Camp is likely mistaken here. The trail followed by Thompson was likely made by animals moving down from the bluffs to the river to water. Kanipe's alleged sighting of hostile Indians on the bluffs was almost certainly a mistaken sighting of Custer's own Crow scouts. The accounts of the latter make it clear there were no hostile Indians seen anywhere along the bluffs when they first ascended it.] Going down the hogback [ridge to the river] I saw Watson way on ahead on his horse turning toward the left to a[nother] party of Indians. ([Camp Note:] Probably about 60 Indians. These were probably the Indians who fled from Reno Hill on Custer's approach) [Note: Again, Camp's surmising in this respect is likely mistaken in both respects.] I [then] jumped over the brow of the ridge to intercept him, which I did. I asked him where he was going & he said he was going to a party of our [Indian] scouts. I asked him if he noticed the "ID" ([for] Indian Dept.) on some of the blankets, & if he did not meet our scouts way back on the trail [on Ash/Reno Creek] where Custer turned off Reno's trail to [the] right. He said he thought they were hostiles. I then explained that our scouts did not have blankets. We then ran across the long flat in full view of the Indians and look(ed) down the river, & were not molested by them. [We] came within a stone's throw of tepees. ([Camp Note: by the] Blackfoot Village.)
(to be continued)
Last Edit: May 12, 2020 18:15:37 GMT -5 by moderator
A recently unearthed Walter Camp interview with Peter Thompson on Aug. 5, 1909, with my grammatical corrections and annotations in brackets (Note that this interview was taken on the Little Big Horn Battlefield with Peter Thompson, Daniel Kanipe, Stanislas Roy and Curley.) Thanks go to Bruce Liddic, author of Vanishing Victory, for locating his lost interview and making it public once again: Part II
([Camp] note slip #9 1/2: Here is where [Thompson] saw Gen. Custer and a Crow scout (not sure it was Curley) leading a squaw with a lariat over his shoulder. We passed between Custer & [the] Crow [scout] and the river. Custer had no orderly [with him]. He spoke to the Crow & [the] Crow let the woman go, and she came past us & crossed [the] river into [the] village.) Note -- After [ I] left [my] horse [and] first ran toward [the] clump of bushes, but a flock of birds flew out of it, and [ I] thought [there] might be someone skulked [in] there, then [ I] headed to a pile of rock on [the] side of [the] hill [ie. likely Sharpshooter Ridge] to [the] east. After [ I] had run along [the] hogback [ridge] about 100 yards from [the edge of the] bluff, [ I] saw an Indian following me on horseback. I ran all the harder [down the ridge] at first & then it occurred to me why I should be running from one Indian. I [then] whirled around and cocked my arm, and was about to take aim [with my revolver] when he turned quickly and galloped back. Watson met Billy Cross at the [lower] junction with the bluff. Reno's battle [in the valley] was [now] all over, and the retreat across the valley was over [in the direction] where I [first] started down the hogback [ridge].
[We] went down [the] river as far as [the] cutback [sic. cutbank] above Ford B, or within 1/4 mile [upstream] of Ford B. Custer's fight had now been in progress [for] some time, and we saw the [Custer] fight on top of the cut bank [ie. Greasy Grass Hill] about 3/4 [of a] mile below us, or about 1/2 mile below Ford B[-1]. I got down [to the river] to get a drink, and was handing a drink up to Watson in my hat when I looked up & saw 5 dismounted Indians at [the] top of [the] cut bank above us. [Note: This cut bank is likely the western edge of Boyer's Bluff.] I started to go up the steep cut bank [at Boyer's Bluff] and saw 3 more [Indians] mounted. One of the Indians made peace signs and we kept [going] on up the river. The Indians on the [Boyer's] bluff now yelled over to ones over in the village, and a white man and [an] Indian dressed in Crow scout cloths crossed the river and took after us, & kept after us. My horse was "Yankton," having been bought in Yankton, South Dakota. The horse of Billy Cross, which we saw near [the Thompson] ford opposite [the] (Blackfoot) village was all cut open on one side, as if a bullet had taken the ribs lengthwise and had cut them and then lodged in his foreleg. While in [the] brush [by the river] before [ I] tried to hand up [ a] drink to Watson, the Indians had been arriving in [the] village across [the] river from us with [the] dead and wounded from [the] Custer battle. [Note: These dead and wounded being brought into the village would more likely have been arriving there from Reno's fight in the valley at that point.]
A recently unearthed Walter Camp interview with Peter Thompson on Aug. 5, 1909, with my grammatical corrections and annotations in brackets (Note that this interview was taken on the Little Big Horn Battlefield with Peter Thompson, Daniel Kanipe, Stanislas Roy and Curley.) Thanks go to Bruce Liddic, author of Vanishing Victory, for locating his lost interview and making it public once again: Part III
The white man & Indian in Crow dress took after us & we were chased, as I said in my letter. Finally we went into [ a] clump of bushes and waited for them to come in, but would not do so. Here's where I [now] looked up and saw [Major Reno's] troops along the bluffs. In running up [the bluffs] I gave out twice and fell. Watson had better wind and could run faster than I but would not leave me. Finally my strength came to me and I got up [to the top of] the bluff, and met [Reno's] men [note: likely G, A & B companies and the pack train] advancing toward Custer just as the [Reno] column was halted before retreating back [to Reno Hill]. [Pvt.] Fitzgerald had found my horse with his legs spread out in bracing style. [ I] was wounded in [the] arm of [sic. on] 6/26 while attempting to run up to Benteen's line from the north line [on Reno Hill]. To go back a little [in the account], before I left my horse [on the bluffs], I could see the 5 men of F Co. who had been sent on ahead. They were away over a high hill [note: likely East Ridge] about a mile back from the river, and about a mile or so east or southeast of [the] Calhoun [Hill] marker. They must have been scouting ahead of Custer. Custer's command turned to the left after it had crossed [the] coulee of [the] dry creek a little ways.
I made 3 trips for water [on June 26th] going first about 9 a.m. [ I] had to run down across open space to make the gully [ie. Water-carrier Ravine]. Then [ I] crept along watching every turn in [the] ravine to see if [there were] any Indians ahead. [ I] had neither carbine, pistol, nor knife. [ I] finally got down to [the] river and made a dash with [ a] bucket to [the] river for water. No sooner did I emerge from the mouth of the gully [near the river] when a volley of about 20 shots was fired at me from [the] same side of [the] river and further upstream. There were no Indians directly across [the] river across [the] stream. On all the trips I went for water alone. On one of the trips I found [Trooper] Mike Madden wounded, & he was not removed [to the top of the bluffs] until late in the day. On my first trip up [the ravine, I] met sergeant Rick P. Hanley of my troop at [the] head [of the] ravine. [He] threatened to take [the bucket of] water from me if [ I] did not give them a drink. As I made [further] dashes for water with [the] bucket, I would go back into [the] gully and fill canteens.
There was a ford at [the] place [on the river] where he and Watson tried to cross [on June 25th] leading from the big flat into [the] village at about [the location of the] Blackfoot Teepees. [Note: This ford is referred to today as Thompson's Ford.] [He] saw Custer disappear over [the river] bank. The village being so quiet, and seeing [what I thought looked like] a guidon in the village, I said to Watson, "I think the camp has surrendered to Custer. Let us go over [the river]." Watson started ahead with his horse, and I was about to stoop to get a drink when we were fired upon from the village.
Custer formed 4's after passing [the] point where Reno retreated up [the bluffs by Sharpshooter Ridge]. Before this, [we] had been marching in column of 2's. This was after Kanipe left with [his alleged] message. On account of [the] hard, dry ground, [he] found it not easy to follow Custer's trail [across the bluffs]. Thompson and Watson came up [the] bluff and met [the Reno] column advancing towards Custer. Here they talked with Kanipe and others. The column stopped here & went no further [before retreating back to Reno Hill]. He located Custer's route past Reno Hill along the [Sharpshooter] ridge just north of D, K, etc. companies [defensive] lines [on Reno Hill]; [Camp Note: it] is where Kanipe told me in 1908. [He] was wounded while on [his] way to help Benteen on [his] arm on [the] morning of 6/26.
Last Edit: May 13, 2020 19:08:41 GMT -5 by moderator
Gerry Schultz left us his thoughts about the early stages of 7th Cavalry's movement east of the river after seperating Maj. Reno to develop his battalion across Maguire's 'A'ford. Thompson's Ford in the video:
I link an item about Custer on the bluffs and visiting the river.