The Great Summer Campaign of 1876 by Frederic C. Wagner III

Due to a family bereavement this day-by-day account of the events leading up to the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25-26, 1876 is temporarily suspended until further notice.  Peter Russell.

  • DECEMBER 15, 1875 … and as the holidays approach, little news is forthcoming, so we continue our profiles. A close friend of the Custer’s and the commander of Company D—as well as one of the more controversial officers at the Little Big Horn…
  • Captain Thomas Benton Weir (brevet lieutenant colonel)—b. Nashville, Ohio, September 28, 1838 (or less likely, as seen elsewhere, November 28, 1838 – d. Governors Island,* New York, December 9, 1876, thirty-eight years old; not battle related. Author Vern Smalley claims it was from alcoholism. Company D: Commanding Officer. Gray eyes, brown hair, light complexion; 6’ tall. Date-of-rank: July 31, 1867, making Weir the fourth-ranking captain. Regimental returns from Fort Harker list him there on August 27, 1867. Entered military service on August 27, 1861, with 3rd Michigan Cavalry. Served through all enlisted ranks. Appointed second lieutenant, October 13, 1861. Served in battles of New Madrid, Corinth, Farmington, Iuka, Coffeeville, and the second battle of Corinth. Taken prisoner by the Confederates on June 26, 1862, released on January 8, 1863. Served as Acting Assistant Inspector General (AAIG) on the staff of later-Major General George A. Custer. Fought at New Madrid and Corinth. Brevetted major and lieutenant colonel on July 31, 1867, for his action during the Civil War against Nathan Bedford Forrest on December 1, 1863.
  • Attended school in Albion, Michigan, and graduated from the University of Michigan in June 1861. Appointed first lieutenant, 7th Cavalry on July 28, 1866, the date the regiment was organized; endorsed by Custer, of whom he became a close confidant; fiercely loyal to Custer and very close to both him and Libbie Custer. Some said he and Libbie were a little TOO close, but there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of either. Considered part of the Custer Clan. Captain Albert Barnitz was quite complimentary of Weir. In September 1868, Barnitz wrote to his wife: “I am rather glad to see Weir here. He is very well read, and social in his disposition.” Took part in the Winter Campaign of 1868. Survived by his sister, Mrs. Samuel Brown, Greenville, Mississippi. Very engaging personality. Rode a beautiful horse named “Jake.” Health deteriorated from the fatigue and exposure of the campaign and he was assigned to the Cavalry Recruiting Office in New York City (Burton Mansion on Hudson Street). Supposedly died of pneumonia, but others claimed it was—as descriptions of the times would record it—melancholia and congestion of the brain. Weir was a very heavy drinker, probably an alcoholic. Originally buried on Governors Island. Re-interred in Cypress Hills National Cemetery.
  • Heitman’s register: Weir, Thomas Benton. OH. MI. Second lieutenant, 3rd Michigan Cavalry, October 13, 1861; first lieutenant, June 19, 1862; captain, November 1, 1862; major, January 18, 1865; lieutenant colonel, November 6, 1865; honorably mustered out, February 12, 1866; first lieutenant, 7th Cavalry, July 28, 1866; regimental c s, February 24, 1867 to July 31, 1867; captain, July 31, 1867; brevet major, July 31, 1867, for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Farmington Terminal, and lieutenant colonel, July 31, 1867, for gallant and meritorious service in the engagement with General Forrest near Ripley, Mississippi, December 1, 1863; died December 9, 1876.
  • Note (*): According to New York newspapers Thomas Weir died in an hotel room in the city and, as a matter of expediency, was buried the post cemetery at Fort Columbus, Governors Island, New York Harbor. There is no evidence to suggest that his death occured on Governors Island. As correctly stated his mortal remains were later re-interred in Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York City. [Peter Russell]
  • December 15, 1875 …(in Fred Wagner’s continuing absence) …  The Bismarck Weekly Tribune, December 15, 1875, carried the following news: “The chances for the promotion of Gen. Custer, before his return [to Fort Lincoln], seem favorable. He is second on the list of Lieutenant Colonels and the retirement of Colonels during the winter seem probable. His promotion would take him from the 7th Cavalry and from this locality. His leave has been extended two months. The General’s visit to New York seems to be for the purpose of investment.” Yet another one of History’s incredible “What ifs”!  [Peter Russell]
  • December 14, 1875 …  “Dr. Henry Porter (a civilian contract surgeon at the Battle of the Little Big Horn), performed a successful operation on a lady living in Apple Creek, who was suffering from dropsy. The operation is called “tapping” and consists of puncturing the abdomen and inserting a long silver tube for the liquid to run out. In this case the amount of water was enormous, twenty-four pints escaping in a short time, much to the relief of the patient, who before the operation could barely breathe.” The good doctor’s hands would be very much busier on 25-26 June 1876! Source: The Bismarck Weekly Tribune, December 15, 1875, page 8.  [Peter Russell]
  • December 10, 1875 … Again no news from Fred, but readers may be interested to know that on this day Civil War veteran Private William Henry Larrabee, Company L, 7th U.S. Cavalry, a married man with a wife and three young children back in Portland, Maine, was languishing in the post guardhouse at Fort Totten, facing a court martial for desertion – an act that almost certainly saved his life.  He was subsequently discharged from the army and sentenced to two years in prison.  In August 1876 his wife petitioned General Alfred Terry for leniency and Larrabee was given the extraordinary choice of serving the rest of his sentence or being “banished to the Dakota Prairies for ten years.”  He chose the latter option.  Larrabee’s quite remarkable story, which includes being a teenager held in a Confederate prison for 11 months and killing a fellow trooper at Camp Bowie, Arizona, is far too long to relate here other than to say he raised six children, established a staging-post between Fort Totten and Fort Seward, built a schoolhouse in the early 1880s and served as postmaster for many years.  After around 10 years his house was destroyed by fire and, having fulfilled the terms of his banishment, he returned East.  Sadly, he died in Massachusetts shortly thereafter, on 4 December 1886.  But his memory lives on in the small community of Larrabee (pop. 30), near Grace City, Foster County, North Dakota. I wonder how many other troopers in Custer’s Cavalry had a township or city named for them?  [Peter Russell]

St Peter & St Paul, Godalming Parish Church. Charles and Eliza were married here on December 9, 1855.

Eliza Booth De Rudio as a young woman, date unknown.

  • December 9, 1875 … [No news from Fred Wagner posted today] but Peter Russell writes … Lieutenant Charles De Rudio and Eliza Booth were celebrating their 20th Wedding Anniversary. This was a geniune love match that was to endure for over 54 years, only to end with the death of Charles in Los Angeles on All Souls Day, November 1, 1910.
  • DECEMBER 8, 1875… continuing with the profiles of officers of the 7th Cavalry, we come upon one of the more interesting and intriguing, the titular head of Company C, that being…
  • Second Lieutenant Henry Moore Harrington—b. Albion, New York, April 30, 1849. Date-of-rank: June 14, 1872, same as lieutenants Charles Varnum and George Wallace. Tied for third-ranking second lieutenant on campaign behind Hodgson and Edgerly. Family moved to Coldwater, Michigan, when he was a youngster. Body never found. In all likelihood, he was the temporary commander of Company C during battle. Graduated from the USMA in 1872 with Varnum and Wallace. Wore white canvas trousers and a blue blouse. It is said his watch or watchcase (minus the workings) was either found or bought from an Indian. Took part in both the Yellowstone (1873) and Black Hills (1874) expeditions. Author/historian Bruce Liddic agrees Harrington commanded C Company on June 25th, as does author James Donovan.
  • Parents were Shelly A. (or William; “Wm.” was engraved in the gold watchcase) and Nancy K. Harrington. Married Grace Berard, daughter of John and Mary Berard of Highland Falls, New York, November 20, 1872. On leave of absence from October 10, 1875 to March 9, 1876. At Fort Seward, Dakota Territory, March 9, 1876 to April 17, 1876, when C Company left for Fort Lincoln.

Second Lieutenant Henry Moore Harrington (above). Lt. James Calhoun, Maggie Custer Calhoun, Grace Berard Harrington and 2nd Lt Henry Harrington (right).

  • Wife disappeared in Dallas, Texas, in 1885 while visiting her sister, Minnie Matthews. She was found nine days later suffering from amnesia and pneumonia. She was still alive in 1903, and was granted a pension by the U. S. Senate from February 18, 1903. Two children: Grace Aileen Harrington (b. Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory, December 26, 1873) and Harry Berard Harrington (b. September 26, 1874 – d. Fort Rice, October 11, 1916). Harrington’s daughter was the postmistress at the Military Academy from December 1927. She had been a teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan, previously. She attended the 60th anniversary ceremony at the Little Big Horn battlefield on June 25, 1936. Henry Harrington was also survived by a brother, C. D. Harrington of Montpelier, Vermont.
  • There is some evidence suggesting Harrington may have been among the last men killed, and as the battle neared its conclusion, made a break for it. This “evidence” supposedly says Harrington—who rode a huge and strong horse—broke through the encirclement and was pursued by several (seven, it was said) Indians. One account claims he shot himself rather than be captured (Hardorff), though many historians largely discount a Harrington suicide. More than one account has a body being found in a dry lakebed, ravine, or sag, some distance from the battlefield (Hardorff) and some time afterwards. As an interesting aside, it was reported at one time, two grave markers were located near the trading post on Route 212 outside the gates of the National Park. It is unknown if these markers (one of them quite probably spurious) would have been for this trooper and if so, if the soldier would have been Harrington or more likely, the regimental sergeant major, William Sharrow. Sharrow’s body was reportedly found “north” of Last Stand Hill, but no indications of how FAR north. Interesting speculation! Benteen admitted he could not find Harrington’s body. Captain Myles Moylan and First Lieutenant Frank Gibson agreed. In all likelihood, Harrington was killed in the mélée up Finley-Finckle Ridge: Indian narratives allude to this. Harrington rode a unique, large sorrel and its identification by some warriors may have made Harrington the “chief” the Indians referred to as “the bravest man they had ever seen.”
  • Heitman’s register: Harrington, Henry Moore. NY. MI. Cadet USMA July 1, 1868 (19th); second lieutenant, 7th Cavalry, June 14, 1872; killed June 25, 1876, in action with Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn River, Montana Territory.

Thomas Ward Custer, photo taken during the Civil War.

Captain Thomas W. Custer, 7th U.S. Cavalry.

  • DECEMBER 7, 1875… exasperating, but after yesterday, no news to report today. So, we will take a look at one of the more interesting companies in the 7th Cavalry, a company made so by its two officers. The company’s commander did NOT ride with his unit, but turned over the daily workings to his lieutenant, a very capable West Pointer. The company’s CO himself, however, took a back seat to no one, riding as aide to his older brother…
  • Captain Thomas Ward Custer (brevet lieutenant colonel) (Nicknamed “Scar Face”)—b. New Rumley, Ohio, March 15, 1845. Date-of-rank: December 2, 1875, seventh-ranking captain, ranking only McDougall. Commanding Officer. Probably about the same height as his brother George, 5’ 10” – 5’ 11” tall, but overall, fairly slight. Always wore his hat tilted over his eyes. The only C Company body identified on Custer Hill. Probably “detached” to serve as his brother’s titular Aide-de-Camp during the campaign and the battle. George Custer’s “right arm.” Body horribly mutilated, “perhaps the worse [sic] example on the field” [Bruce Liddic, Vanishing Victory, 164] and could only be recognized by the “TWC” tattoo on his arm. Head smashed in, his whole scalp missing, disemboweled, and shot with dozens of arrows. Body found near GAC, maybe fifteen feet away. His body was found near the top of the knoll, “… a few yards from the General, lying on his face; his features were so pressed out of shape as to be almost beyond recognition; a number of arrows had been shot in his back, several in his head, one I remember, without the shaft, the head bent so that it could hardly be withdrawn; his skull was crushed and nearly all the hair scalped, except a very little on the nape of the neck” [Godfrey]. First Sergeant John Ryan of M Company, described his body as follows: “The head was smashed as flat as the palm of one’s hand. When we found him, he was lying on his face and hands, split down through the center of his body.” Buried at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. Awarded two Medals of Honor in the Civil War, one of only nineteen men ever to be so honored and the only man to do so during the Civil War.
  • Heitman’s register: Custer, Thomas Ward. OH. MI. Private, Company H, 21st Ohio Infantry, September 2, 1861 to October 10, 1864; second lieutenant, 6th Michigan Cavalry, November 8, 1864; brevet first lieutenant, captain, and major, volunteers, March 13, 1865, for distinctive and gallant conduct; honorably mustered out November 24, 1865; second lieutenant, 1st Infantry, February 23, 1866; first lieutenant, 7th Cavalry, July 28, 1866; regimental quartermaster, December 3, 1866 to March 10, 1867; captain, December 2, 1875; brevet captain, March 2, 1867, for gallant and distinctive conduct in the engagement with the enemy at Waynesboro, Virginia, March 2, 1865; major, March 2, 1867, for distinctive conduct in the engagement with the enemy at Namozine Church, Virginia, April 3, 1865, and lieutenant colonel, March 2, 1867, for distinctive courage and service at the battle of Sailors Creek, Virginia; awarded Medal of Honor, April 24, 1865, for the capture of a flag at Namozine Church, Virginia, April 2, 1865, and another Medal of Honor, May 22, 1865, for the capture of a flag at Sailors Creek, Virginia, April 6, 1865; killed June 25, 1876, in action with Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn River, Montana Territory.

President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77).

John Quincy Smith, Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1875-77).

  • DECEMBER 6, 1875 Edward Parmalee Smith (no image available), the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, directed the Indian agents at the major Lakota agencies to advise the Sioux leaders their bands must surrender to the agencies no later than January 31, 1876.
  • Note:  Only five days after the ultimatum, Edward Smith was out and John Quincy Smith (no relation) was appointed the new Commissioner by President Ulysses S. Grant. [PGR]

First Lieutenant (Assistant Surgeon) Holmes Offley Paulding (left). A Civil War surgeon's medical kit, probably little changed in 1876 (above).

  • DECEMBER 5, 1875… HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER!! But other than that, just another day with no news to report, so we will look at another important figure with Colonel Gibbon’s Montana column. [And we shall also send out birthday-best-wishes to one of my dearest friends, one of my Montana Mayhem traveling buddies, Scott Nelson.] This doctor was actually—like Dr. Lord of the 7th Cavalry—an army doctor, an officer in the U. S. Army, not a contract surgeon… and another who died too young. And as you can see, rather outspoken…
  • First Lieutenant/Dr. Holmes Offley Paulding—b. Washington, D. C., 1852 – d. Fort Sidney, Nebraska, May 1, 1883, of “rheumatism of the heart.” Assistant Surgeon. Came from a family of distinguished naval officers, the son of Commander Leonard Paulding who died in Panama, in command of the U. S. S. Wateree. He was the great-grandson of a Paulding who was one of three captors of Major Andre during the American Revolution. On the maternal side, Paulding was a grandson of John Holmes Offley of Georgetown. He was promoted to captain on November 10, 1879, though that promotion does not show up in the Heitman Register. Paulding studied medicine at Columbian University in Washington, D. C. He met George Custer at Fort Abraham Lincoln, but was transferred to Fort Ellis in 1875. Extremely critical of Gibbon and the whole campaign: “a miserable farce and everything has been as disagreeable as idiotic, pig headed stupidity could make it.” Paulding was one of the officers who found Lieutenant James Porter’s buckskin jacket, Lieutenant Jack Sturgis’ underclothes, and Captain Myles Keogh’s gauntlets in the abandoned Indian village. He was also one of several who apparently counted the bodies in Deep Ravine and his number—28, verified by several others—is generally accepted today as accurate.
  • Paulding was survived by a widow and two children. Buried in Christ Church Cemetery, Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Heitman’s register: Paulding, Holmes Offley. DC. DC. Assistant surgeon November 10, 1874; died May 1, 1883.

Major James Sanks Brisbin during the Civil War (left) and in later life (above).

  • DECEMBER 4, 1875… this is a month of holidays with little news to report. None today either, so we shall digress somewhat from the 7th Cavalry’s officers and take a QUICK look at Colonel John Gibbon’s number two-man for this campaign and the commander of his four-company cavalry contingent…
  • Major James Sanks Brisbin (brevet brigadier general) (also, good-naturedly called “Grasshopper Jim” by his men)—b. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, May 23, 1837 – d. Philadelphia, January 14, 1892. Ultimately rose to the rank of general officer. Commanded the 2nd Cavalry contingent of the Montana column… four companies: Company F (Second Lieutenant Charles Francis Roe), Company G (Captain James Nicholas Wheelan), Company H (Captain Edward Ball), and Company L (Captain Lewis Thompson, who committed suicide shortly after the battle).
  • Accompanied Captain Owen Sweet in 1890 when Sweet placed the marble gravestones on the battlefield. Got his nickname because of his interest in the agricultural potential of the area. Apparently very heavy and afflicted with severe rheumatism and more than once during the campaign, he had to be carried by ambulance. Despite it all he seems to have been very highly regarded by everyone: “That old officer had grit, surely, for Gibbon stated that he insisted on marching out with his cavalry battalion although he had to hobble around his post on crutches” [Fred Dustin]. Helped bury the Custer dead. Somewhat controversial after the battle for a letter written to the newspapers, purportedly signed by—though vehemently denied—by Lieutenant De Rudio. De Rudio, of course, denied writing it, claiming its contents were precisely what he had told Brisbin, but… we shall never know. In any event, it appears to me nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.
  • Heitman’s register: * Brisbin. James Sanks. PA. PA. Second lieutenant, 1st Dragoons April 26, 1861; 1st Cavalry, August 3, 1861; captain, 6th Cavalry, August 5, 1861; colonel, 5th U. S. Colored Cavalry, March 1, 1864; brigadier general, volunteers, May 1, 1865; honorably mustered out of volunteer service, January 15, 1866; transferred to 9th Cavalry, September 8, 1866; major, 2nd Cavalry, January 1, 1868; lieutenant colonel, 9th Cavalry, June 6, 1885; colonel, 1st Cavalry, August 20, 1889; transferred to 8th Cavalry, April 22, 1891; brevet major, June 9, 1863, for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Beverly Ford, VA; lieutenant colonel, December 19, 1864, for gallant and meritorious service in action at Marion East Tennessee; colonel, March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious service during the war; brigadier general, volunteers, December 12, 1864; major general, volunteers, March 13, 1865, for meritorious service during the war; died January 14, 1892.

Second Lieutenant Benjamin "Benny" Hubert Hodgson.

Monument to Benny Hodgson in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • DECEMBER 3, 1875… another “no news” day, so we finish with B Company’s officers. This young man was one of the most popular officers in the regiment and many tears were shed over his tragic end…
  • Second Lieutenant Benjamin “Benny” Hubert Hodgson (nicknamed by the enlisted men: “Jack of Clubs”)—b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 30, 1848 – d. June 25, 1876, killed at the Little Big Horn. Company B. Not a big man; fairly short in stature. Served as Reno’s adjutant during the battle. Date-of-rank: June 15, 1870. Hodgson and Edgerly were the senior second lieutenants on the campaign. Graduated from USMA in 1870. Joined the regiment in the field in Colorado. Accompanied his unit on reconstruction duty in the south and was on both the Yellowstone Expedition (1873) and the Black Hills Expedition (1874). Hodgson resigned from the army but withdrew his resignation papers for “the thrill of one last campaign.” Other sources claim he was going to be court-martialed for certain infractions and faced dismissal from the service. Killed at the ford, retreating back across river. Body fell at foot of bluffs, then moved to hilltop for burial. May have been buried with Sergeant Miles O’Harra (M Company; please note the spelling of O’Harra: according to the family, the correct spelling is with the double “r”), though Bruce Liddic, “Vanishing Victory” [179], writes, “The body of Lieutenant Hodgson was finally recovered and buried by a small party on a little knoll ‘overlooking the river with a cedar tree at his head.’” Body removed a year later and transported to his family in Philadelphia. Maybe the most popular officer in the command and spoken of very highly by Lieutenant Frank Gibson’s wife, Katherine. She described Hodgson as “a dapper little officer”; “that merry boy.” A particular favorite of Reno and considered a fierce fighter despite his diminutive size. Close friend of Lieutenant Charles Varnum. Fred Benteen also thought very highly of him, referring to their relationship as that of “bosom cronies.”
  • Saddler John A. Bailey told Walter Mason Camp, Hodgson’s body was found on the bank at the edge of the river. The Indians had stripped him before being found on the night of the 26th. His body was buried about forty or fifty feet up the hill from McDougall’s entrenchment under a little bush-like tree, which is no longer there, on the night of June 26 [Liddic/Harbaugh, “Camp on Custer,” 81 – 82. In footnote 166, the authors mention Captain Thomas McDougall said three men helped recover Hodgson’s body on the night of the 26th: Criswell, Ryan, and Bailey, all of Company B]. His feet were in the water when he was found. Re-interred in October 1877, in Lot 126, Section 10, Row West #2, space 2 from south line, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Heitman’s register: Hodgson, Benjamin Hubert. PA. PA. Cadet USMA, July 1, 1865 (45th); second lieutenant, 7th Cavalry, June 15, 1870; killed June 25, 1876 in action with Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn River, Montana.

First Lieutenant (later Captain) Thomas Mower McDougall.

David H. Buel, President of Georgetown University (1905-08).

  • DECEMBER 2, 1875… since nothing new happened this day—unlike yesterday—we can take some more brief peeks at the 7th’s officers. We finished HQ and A Company, so we turn now to B Company. The company commander was…
  • Captain Thomas Mower McDougall (nicknamed “Micky Dougall”; also seen spelled McDougal)—b. Fort Crawford (Prairie-du-Chien), Wisconsin, May 21, 1845 – d. Echo Lake Farm, near Brandon, Vermont, July 3, 1909. Cause of death was angina pectoris. Company B: Commanding Officer, since March 1876. Date-of-rank: December 15, 1875, eighth- and lowest-ranking captain on the campaign. Attended St. Mary’s Academy in Baltimore, then attended a military-prep academy in New York. Originally an infantry officer with the 5th U. S. Volunteer Infantry, receiving a commission at the age of seventeen. Volunteered as Aide-de-Camp to General Hawkins in October 1863. Took part in the Vicksburg Campaign and numerous other battles. After the war he received a commission in the infantry and was assigned to Fort Laramie. Fought Indians at Aravipa Canyon, Tonto Point, Point of Mountain, and Rock Springs. Promoted to first lieutenant in 1867. Reassigned to the 7th Cavalry (E Company) after the reorganization of the army, December 31, 1870. In the south on Reconstruction duty. Also in the Black Hills Expedition, 1874. Commanded the pack train escort on June 25, during the Little Big Horn battle. Along with two enlisted men—Ryan and Moore—he buried Lieutenant Hodgson. Close friends with Captain Frederick Benteen. On scouting duty with Major Lazelle during the Nez Percé Campaign. In May 1888, he went on sick leave, suffering from malaria, and retired on July 22, 1890.
  • Married Alice M. Sheldon (d. Hendersonville, North Carolina, March 8, 1920), May 21, 1872, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. McDougall’s father was a former army doctor, Brigadier General (brevet) Charles McDougall, Surgeon, USA.
  • Tom McDougall’s funeral was held at Dahlgren Chapel, Georgetown University on July 7, 1909 (oh-h-h, how many times I have attended Mass there!!). Buried in Arlington National Cemetery. One of McDougall’s sisters—Josephine—was married to Colonel David Hillhouse Buel, who was murdered at Fort Leavenworth while trying to apprehend a deserter when the 7th Cavalry was stationed there (1870). She later married Buel’s brother, Oliver. Her son (McDougall’s nephew), David H. Buel, S. J., became the president of Georgetown University and it was there Tom McDougall’s funeral was held.
  • Heitman’s register: McDougall, Thomas Mower. WI. KS. Second Lieutenant, 48th U. S. Colored Infantry, February 18, 1864; honorably mustered out June 1, 1865: captain, 5th U. S. Volunteer Infantry, June 2, 1865; honorably mustered out August 10, 1866; second lieutenant, 14th Infantry, May 10, 1866; transferred to 32nd Infantry, September 21, 1866; first lieutenant, November 5, 1866; transferred to 21st Infantry, April 19, 1869; unassigned October 21, 1869; assigned to 7th Cavalry, December 31, 1870; captain, December 15, 1875; brevet captain, March 2, 1867, for faithful and meritorious service; retired July 22, 1890.


William W. Belknap.

Zachariah Chandler.

  • DECEMBER 1, 1875
  • It begins…
  • From Zachariah Chandler, Secretary of the Interior, to William W. Belknap, Secretary of War: “I have the honor to inform you that I have this day directed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to notify said Indian, Sitting Bull, and the others outside their reservations, that they must return to their reservations before January 31, 1876; and that if they neglect or refuse so to move, they will be reported to the War Department as hostile Indians, and that a military Force will be sent to compel them to obey the order of the Indian Department.” (The Commissioner of Indian Affairs was Edward P. Smith, but Chandler’s actual order to Smith was dated December 3, 1875.) The Indian agents in various areas were:
  • ➢ James S. Hastings—Red Cloud Agency at Camp Robinson. ➢ E. A. Howard—Spotted Tail Agency in northwestern Nebraska. [Today, this is known as the Rosebud Indian Reservation and is the home, primarily, of the Cu Brulé Sioux. On June 25, 1876, disaffected tribesmen from Spotted Tail were the ones occupying the small camp on the EAST side of the Little Big Horn River, on the flats below Weir Point.] ➢ Bingham ➢ John Burke—Standing Rock Agency. ➢ Livingstone ➢ Beckwith ➢ Reily ➢ William W. Alderson—Fort Peck. (Dr. Holmes Paulding of Gibbon’s Montana column did not care very much for Alderson; considering him a liar.) ➢ Dexter E. Clapp—New Crow Agency. ➢ Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy—Red Cloud Sioux Reservation.

  • The day-by-day events from November 3 to November 30, 1875  have been temporarily archived on this site but can be viewed on the author’s personal Facebook at –

& The Small Print

© Men With Custer 2013. Author Peter Groundwater Russell. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peter Russell and the ‘Men With Custer’ website with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Men With Custer