Little Bighorn Telegraph Message

In some places the writing is very difficult to read.  Very little punctuation was used in the 21 hand written pages.  Some names not be spelled correctly.

Chicago, Illinois
July 8, 1876
Adjt. Genl. US Army
Washington DC

The following is a copy of General Terry’s report of the action of June twenty-fifth (25) camp on Little Big Horn River.
June twenty seventh (27) Division of the Missouri, Chicago, Ills.

It is my painful duty to report that the day before yesterday the twenty-fifth 25instant a great disaster overtook Genl. Custer and the troops under his command at twelve 12 o’clock of the

(p 2)twenty second 22. He started with his whole regt. and strong detachment of scouts and guides for the mouth of the Rosebud up that river about twenty 20 miles he struck a very heavy Indian trail which had previously been discounted and pursuing it found that it led as it was supposed that it would lead to the Little Big Horn River.  Here he found a village of almost unexampled extent and at once attacked it with that portion of his force

(p 3) which was immediately at hand. Maj. Reno with three co’s. A ___ and M of the regiment was sent into the valley of the stream at the point where the trail struck it.  Gen Custer with five companies C, E, F, I, and L attempted to enter it about three miles lower down. Reno forded the river charged down its left bank dismounted and fought on foot until finally completely overwhelmed by

(p 4) numbers he was compelled to mount recross the river and seek a refuge on the high bluff which overlooked its right bank just as he recrossed Capt. Benteen who with three cos. D, H, and K was some two 2 miles to the left of Reno when the action commenced but who had been ordered by Genl. Custer to return came to the river and rightly concluding that it was ____

(p 5) for his force to attempt to renew the fight in the valley he joined Reno on the bluffs. Capt. McDongall with his company B was at first at some distance in the rear with a train of pack mules he also came up to Reno soon . This united force was nearly surrounded by Indians many of whom were armed with rifles occupied positions which commanded the ground held by

(p 6) the cavalry ground from which there was no escape.  Rifle pits were dug and the fight was maintained though with heavy loss from about the half past two o’clock of the twenty-fifth 25 till six o’clock of the twenty-sixth 26 when the Indians withdrew from the valley taking with them their village of the movements of Genl. Custer and the five companies under his immediate command scarcely anything is known.

(p 7) from those who witness them for no officers or soldiers who accompanied him has yet been found alive.  His trial from the point where Reno crossed the stream passes along and in the rear of the crest of the bluff on the right bank for nearly or quite three miles then it comes down to the bank of the river but at once diverges from it as if he had unsuccessfully attempted to cross then

(p 8) turns upon itself almost completes a circle and closes.  It is marked by the remains of the officers and the bodies of his horses some of them dropped along the path others heaped where ____ appear to have been made there is abundant evidence that a gallant resistance was offered by the troops but they were beset on all sides by overpowering numbers.  The officers known to be killed are Genl.

(p 9) Custer, Capts. Keogh, Gates, and Custer. Leiuts. Cook, Smith, McIntosh, Calhoun, Porter, Hodgson, Sturgis and Keilly of the Cavalry. Leiut. Crittenden of the twentieth 20 Infy. and acting asst. surgeon Dewolf. Leiut. Harrington of the Cavalry and asst surgeon Lord are missing. Captain Benteen and Leiut. Varman of the cavalry are slightly

(p 10) wounded. Mr Bostan Custer, a brother and Mr. Reed a nephew of Genl. Custer were with him and were killed. No other officers than those whom I have names are among the killed, wounded and missing.  It is impossible as yet to obtain a reliable list of the enlisted men who were killed and wounded but the number of killed

(p 11) including officers must reach two hundred and fifty 250. The number of wounded is fifty one (51) at the mouth of the Rosebud I informed Genl. Custer that I should take the empty steamer far west up the Yellowstone to ferry Gen. Gibbons column over the river that I should personally accompany that column and that it would in all probability reach the mouth of the Little Big Horn on the

(p 12) twenty-sixth 26in at and the steamer reaches Genl. Gibbons troop near the mouth of the Big Horn early in the morning of the twenty-fourth 24 and at 4 o’clock in the afternoon all his men and animals were across the Yellowstone. At five 5 o’clock the column consisting of five companies of the Seventh 7 Infantry, four 4 companies of the second 2 Cavalry and

(p 13) a battery of three 3 gatling guns marched out to and across Tullesks Creek starting soon after five o’clock in the morning of the twenty fifth 25.  The infantry made a march of twenty two 22 miles over the most difficult country which I have ever seen in order that scouts might be sent into the valley of the Little Big Horn. The cavalry with the battery was then

(p 14) finish on thirteen 12 or fourteen 14 miles further reaching camp at midnight.  The scouts were set out at half past four in the morning of the twenty sixth 26.  The scout discovered there 3 Indians who were at first supposed to be Sioux but when over taken they proved to be Crows who had been with General Custer. They brought the first

(p 15) intelligence of the battle.  Their story was not credited as was supposed that some fighting perhaps even fighting had taken place but it was not believed that disaster could have overtaken so large a force as twelve 12 companies of Cavalry. The information which had broken camp very early soon came up and the whole

(p 16) column _____ and marched up the valley of the Little Big Horn during the afternoon. Efforts were made to send scouts through to what was supposed to be General Custer’s position and obtain information of the condition of affairs but those who were sent out were driven back by parties of Indians who in increasing numbers were seen having in General Gibbons front

(p 17) at twenty minutes before nine o’clock in the evening the infantry had marched between twenty nine 29 and thirty 30 miles.  The men were very weary and daylight was failing.  The column was therefore halted for the night at a point about eleven 11 miles in straight live above the mouth of the stream. This morning the ________ was resumed and after a march of

(p 18) nine 9 miles Major Reno entrenched position was reached. The withdrawal of the Indians from around Reno cowered and from the valley was undoubtedly cowered by the appearance of Genl. Gibbons troops.  Major Reno and Capt. Benteen both of whom are officers of great experience accustomed to see large masses of mounted men estimated the number of Indians engaged at not less

(p 19) than twenty five hundred 2500. Other officers think that the number was greater than this. The village in the valley was about three miles in length and about a mile in with besides the lodges proper a great number _______ brushwood shelter was found in it evidencing that many more besides its proper inhabitants had gathered together there.

(p 20) Major Reno is very confident that there were a number of white men fighting with the Indians. It is believed that the loss of the Indians was large.  I have as yet received no official reports in regard to the battle but what is stated as gathered from the officers who were on the ground.  Then and from those who have been over it since

(p 21) Signed Alfred H. Terry Brig. General, R. C. Drune AAG
1377 paid _______.

Dunn, Jacob Piatt. Massacres of the mountains: a history of the Indian wars of the far West. Harper & brothers, 1886.

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