This Week in Little Bighorn History

George Armstrong Custer was born on December 5, 1839, in New Rumley, Ohio. The Custer Memorial Association will celebrate his birth in New Rumley on Saturday, December 10, 2016. See https://www.facebook.com/Custer-Memorial-Association-151535381571759/.

Other milestones this week include:

  • Isaac Fowler of Company C died on December 5, 1881, in Union City, Indiana.
  • Martin McCue died on December 6, 1923, at Barnes Hospital in Washington, D.C., and was buried in the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery.
  • Henry August Lange of Company E was born in Hanover, Germany, on December 7, 1851.
  • Andrew Humes Nave died on December 7, 1924, in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was buried in Highland Memorial Cemetery.
  • John Samuel Ragsdale had several milestones in December. He was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on December 9, 1850; he married Lois Durham on December 28, 1877; and he died on December 4, 1942, in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Charles A. Windolph was born on December 9, 1851 in Bergen, Germany. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.
  • Thomas Gordon was born in Boston on December 9, 1853, and died in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on December 21, 1935. He is buried in the Swandale Cemetery in Mendon, Massachusetts.
  • Thomas Bell (Benton) Weir died a sad death on Governors Island, New York, on December 9, 1876, less than six months after he survived the battle.
  • Martin Kilfoyle died on December 9, 1894, in Washington, D.C. He was on detached service during the battle.
  • Henry Jackson died in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on December 9, 1908, and is buried in the National Cemetery there.
  • John Sivertsen was born on December 10, 1841, in Jensen, Norway. He married Anna Olson in Douglas County, Wisconsin, on December 25, 1889.
  • Henry N. B. Witt was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on December 10, 1852. He was on detached service during the battle.
  • William J. Gregg died on December 10, 1913, in Hampton, Virginia, and is buried in the National Cemetery there.
  • Frederick Henry Gehrmann died on December 10, 1922, in Washington, D.C., and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Gabriel Guessbacher died on the same day in the same city. His burial location is not known.


This Week in Little Bighorn History

George B. Herendeen was born on November 28, 1846, in Parkman Township, Geauga County, Ohio. He was a civilian scout who participated in the battle in the timber and on the hilltop. According to Gregory Michno (see “Misrepresented ‘Monster’ Major Marcus Reno“) Herendeen was largely responsible for assertions of Marcus Reno‘s cowardice:

Of all the witnesses called [at the Reno Court of Inquiry], only two were critical of Reno’s conduct in the valley. Civilian interpreter Frederic F. Girard, whom Reno had once fired, said he thought Reno could have held out in the timber as long as the ammunition lasted. (Left unsaid was that at the rate they had been firing, that would not likely have been more than another half-hour.) Civilian scout George Herendeen also disliked Reno. He said that when Bloody Knife was killed and another soldier hit, “Reno gave the order to dismount, and the soldiers had just struck the ground when he gave the order to mount, and then everything left the timber on a run.” Herendeen said the incident “demoralized him [Reno] a good deal,” but when pressed by court recorder Lieutenant Jesse M. Lee, Herendeen stated, “I am not saying that he is a coward at all.”

. . . An examination of the court record shows that 20 of the 23 eyewitnesses who testified to Reno’s conduct had neutral or favorable observations. Only three were unfavorable—and none of those damning. Yet scarcely mentioned is [Dr. Henry] Porter’s account of Reno’s statement, “We have got to get out of here—we have got to charge them!” Instead, Herendeen’s claim that Reno ordered a dismount and an immediate mount appears often in print. It seems incredible. One man claims Reno issued conflicting orders while extracting his command from a desperate situation, and it snowballs into an avalanche of cowardice and treachery.

For more of Greg Michno’s excellent research and writing, see the books listed at the end of this post.

Other milestones this week include:


This Week in Little Bighorn History

Stephen Cowley died on November 21, 1886. He was a Private in Company D who was on detached service at Yellowstone Depot during the battle.

Stephen Cowley was born in Sligo County, Ireland, his father was Michael Cowley, a butcher. He married Bridget Agnes Moore on January 21, 1871 in County Mayo, Ireland. He immigrated in the Spring of 1871 to the United States and immediately registered in the United States Army for the Civil and Indian Wars. He served with General Custer in Company B which was assigned the responsibility of guarding the pack train. His service continued and he was discharged from the Cavalry on September 10, 1882 at Fort Totten, North Dakota. . . .

Stephen and Bridget had 5 children, one son, Ambrose died at 5 months, those who survived are James Joseph, Stephen Joseph, Michael Joseph and Sadie Mary. Stephen died in November 1886 at Larimore, Grand Forks County, North Dakota. He is buried in the Bellevue Cemetery there. [Findagrave.com]

Other Seventh Cavalry anniversaries this week include:

  • Alexander Bishop was born on November 22, 1853, in Brooklyn, New York.
  • George Gaffney died in Washington, D.C., on November 22, 1916.
  • Charles Braden was born on November 23, 1847, in Detroit.
  • William Slaper was born on November 23, 1854, in Cincinnati.
  • George Blunt died on November 23, 1905, at the Joyce Hotel in Baltimore.
  • Augustus DeVoto died on November 23, 1923, in Tacoma, Washington.
  • Charles A. Campbell died on November 25, 1920, in Bismarck, North Dakota.
  • Joseph Tilford was born in Georgetown, Kentucky, on November 26, 1828.
  • William Morris died in New York City on November 26, 1933.
  • Hiram Sager was born on November 27, 1850, in Westport, New York.
  • The Battle on the Washita was on November 27, 1868. See the books below for more about this infamous battle.


This Week in Little Bighorn History

Seventh Cavalry anniversaries this week include:

  • Edward Rood was born in Tioga County, New York, on November 14, 1847. He was a Private in Company E and was killed in the battle.
  • Marcus Albert Reno was born on November 15, 1834, in Carrollton, Illinois. Entire books have been written about Major Reno (see below) because he played a significant role in the battle.
  • On November 15, 1877, Frederic Francis Girard married Ella Scarborough Waddell. He had previously been married to a Piegan Indian. He was in the valley fight.
  • James J. Galvan, also known as Michael J. Miller, was born in Liverpool, England, on November 16, 1848. He was a Private in Company L and was killed in the battle.
  • Hugh McGonigle died on November 16, 1916, in Washington, D.C. He was a Private in Company G who fought in the valley and hilltop fights.
  • Emil Taube was born on November 18, 1847, in Damerau, Germany. He was a Private in Company K who was on detached service at Yellowstone Depot during the battle.
  • Frederick Henry Gehrmann was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 18, 1855. He was a Private in Company B who was on detached service at Yellowstone Depot during the battle.
  • James Hill died in Wooster, Ohio, on November 18, 1906. He was the First Sergeant of Company B who was a pack train escort and fought on the hilltop.
  • Thomas H. Rush, also known as Thomas Morton, was born on November 19, 1941, in Greenville, Ohio. He was at Fort Lincoln during the campaign due to illness.
  • William W. Lasley was born in St. Louis County, Missouri, on November 19, 1842. He was a Private in Company K who was in the hilltop fight.
  • Thomas Eaton Graham was born on November 20, 1831, in Alton, Ohio. He was a Private in Company G who fought in the valley and hilltop fights.
  • George Brainard died in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 20, 1886. He was a Private in Company B on detached service as an orderly for General Alfred Terry.
  • Stephen Cowley died on November 21, 1886. He was a Private in Company D who was on detached service at Yellowstone Depot during the battle.


This Week in Little Bighorn History

Henry P. Jones, also known as John Bush, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on November 8, 1953. He served as a Private in Company I and participated in the pack train escort and the hilltop fight at Little Bighorn. Other Seventh Cavalry anniversaries this week include:

  • Crawford Selby married Mary Elizabeth Beck on November 10, 1864. He was a Saddler with Company G when he was killed in the valley fight at Little Bighorn. Mary remarried in 1880.
  • Stanislas Roy was born in France on November 12, 1846. He enlisted in the Seventh Cavalry in 1869 and served on both the Yellowstone and Black Hills expeditions. He later served as a corporal in Company A in the valley and hilltop fights at Little Bighorn.

Awarded the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1878, with the citation: ‘Brought water to the wounded under a most galling fire,’ of the enemy in the Little Big Horn River fight.

 — Men with Custer

  Roy attended the dedication of the Custer Monument in Monroe, Michigan, in 1910 and died of cancer in 1913 at Columbus Barracks, Ohio.

  • Patrick Coakley, who was not present at the battle, died in Washington, D.C., on November 13, 1881.


This Week in Little Bighorn History

William Braendle, of Hermann, Mo., was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, November 1, 1855. His father, Jacob Braendle, was a native of Germany, and came to the United States in 1870, locating first in Allegheny City, Penn., and after a residence there of seven months removed to Gasconade County, Mo. He located eight miles west of Hermann, where he died in 1872. After the father’s death William left the farm and went to St. Louis, where he labored by the day. He returned to Hermann in 1882, where in March of that year he married Elizabeth Trechnlann, daughter of John Trechmann (deceased). Mrs. Braendle was born in Hermann, and she and Mr. Braendle became the parents of three children, two of whom are living: John and Grover Cleveland. Mr. Braendle belongs to the I. O. O. F. in St. Louis, and the E. of P. in Hermann. He conducts a quiet and orderly beer and wine saloon, and is an honest citizen of the county.

This biography of William Braendle was published in 1888. According to Men with Custer, Braendle (also known as Wilhelm Friedrich Braendle, William Brandle, and William Cummings) resided in California for the last 30 years of his life and died there in 1932.

Other Little Bighorn milestones for November 1 include the deaths of James E. Moore in 1894 in Union, South Carolina, and Charles Camillus DeRudio in 1910 in Los Angeles, California. Other Seventh Cavalry anniversaries this week include:


The Last Man

CoburnTitle

One of the articles in the Summer 1956 issue of Montana: The Magazine of Western History was a reprint of a 32-page booklet that was copyrighted in 1936 and presented with permission of the widow of its author, Wallace David Coburn. “The Battle of the Little Big Horn” was an account of a story told by Major Will A. Logan (below) who had been the superintendent of the Agency at the Belknap Indian Reservation in Milk River, Montana, and who had just been named the first superintendent of the new Glacier National Park, a position he held in 1911 until his death in 1912.
Logan
Logan told his story to a small group with the admonition that it be kept secret, but he further instructed that “on the death of Mrs. Custer this story must be given to the public.” Libbie Custer died in 1933, so the story was kept secret for over two decades.

As with most accounts of the battle, mistakes are apparent throughout the narrative. In addition, this narrative is similar to “Sole Survivor” accounts in that it is questionable if Logan was even there. Logan stated he was 17 years old at the time of the battle, but he was born in 1856, which would have made him 20. He said he was a scout for the Seventh Cavalry but that his father, Captain William Logan, had him transferred to Gibbons’ command prior to the battle. He claimed that General Terry sent him out into the night on June 25th with instructions to find Custer and deliver new written orders and information about their movements.

To make a long story short, Logan claimed to have been the first white man to witness the aftermath of the battle. He said he witnessed the celebrations of the Indians and heard intermittent firing from the area now known as Reno-Benteen. When asked of the condition of George Custer’s body, he replied, “Stripped naked, scalped, mutilated, and with more arrows sticking in him than in the body of any other man on the battlefield, with the possible exception of that of his brother, Colonel Tom Custer.” While the condition of George Custer’s body as described is likely, other details, such as saying they had they “met their doom with smoking rifles and dripping sabers in their hands,” are known to be false.

Logan ended his story with a tribute to the “last man.”

Like the flame of a coal blazed his eyes. His teeth glistened like a fighting grizzly, while from his lips a war-cry came that was weird and strange, making the marrow thicken. In his right hand gleamed a cavalry saber, his left gripped the butt of an empty six-shooter.

Hurling the revolver into the face of a big brave, the white man then commenced to cleave his way through the line. With lightning strokes the saber flashed, dealing sudden death to three more of the bolder braves.

Back rolled the red waves of desperate red fighters, leaving the white brave alone for an instant . . . he looked up at the red sun . . . laughed and said something . . . then laughed again as the red tide swept back over him stilling his courageous heart forever.

His slayers claimed that they never touched his body for he was so brave that they wanted the signs to remain . . . to show others how this warrior of warriors had fought and died.

Who was the last man according to Logan?

Captain Myles Keogh.

Fights on the Little Horn

Gordon Clinton Harper passed away in May 2009, but his research lives on with the posthumous publication of his book, Fights on the Little Horn: Unveiling the Mysteries of Custer’s Last Stand.

GordonHarper

Mathey Family Interment Records

Edward Gustave Mathey was born on 27 October 1837 in Besancon, France. His wife and unmarried daughter are buried with him at Arlington National Cemetery.

EdwardMathey2 MedaMathey2JuliaMathey2

Edward Maguire’s Report

Lieutenant Edward Maguire of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reached the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn on the morning of June 27, 1876. In his Annual Report dated July 10, 1876,  he tells the story of the Seventh Cavalry from the day they left Fort Abraham Lincoln on May 17 through the initial burials. His was the first official report of the battle, and his four conclusions have stood the test of time.

Read the Report

Within the published report was a map drawn by Sergeant Charles Becker at Maguire’s direction that measures approximately 17.5 inches high by 15 inches wide. In order to see the markings more clearly than shown above, the map has been scanned as four images of  high resolution. You may wish to save and print the four quadrants at actual size (select “landscape” for the orientation) and piece them together. The four sections are not perfect, but they should serve the purpose of viewing the map and its markings while reading Maguire’s report. You should be able to zoom in on them if you prefer not to print them.

Upper Left Quadrant
Upper Right Quadrant
Lower Left Quadrant
Lower Right Quadrant