the outstanding story of two survivors hidden in the bushes near the Indian village
DeRUDIO AND PRIVATE O'NEILL
source: The Custer Myth: A Source Book of Custerania, written and compiled by Colonel W.A. Graham, The Stackpole Co., pages 76 - 78
On June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Charles DeRudio and Private Thomas O'Neill were trapped in bushes, near the river. They were hidden near the Indian village, after Reno's failed attack and rout. On June 26, 1876...
Just as it was coming day they heard voices coming up the river on the east bank, and De Rudio ran out exclaiming "Tom Custer!" "Tom Custer!" O'Neill ran out but immediately warned De Rudio that the men were Indians and not soldiers, and straightway the Sioux began firing at them. At this De Rudio and O'Neill retreated back through the timber on the island in great haste, making for a big clump of bushes only to find seven or eight mounted Indians looking for them. O'Neill, seeing that they were discovered, discharged his carbine into the bunch of redskins, and De Rudio fired two revolver shots, whereupon the Indians were surprised, thinking they were being charged upon by some body of troops. The Indians' ponies were also thrown into fright and were jumping against one another. Turning behind clump of brush and keeping out of sight now to the eastward 150 yards nearly to main river bank, they found trees washed up in a flood against stumps enclosing a triangular space and into this they jumped and decided to try to stand. The Indians saw the direction they went and fired about fifty shots into the brush in that direction, bullets striking the logs all about them. O'Neill now thought they were as good as gone and took off his cartridge belt in which he had, as he remembers, about 25 carbine and 12 revolver shots left. He was resigned to stand here to the last and shook hands with De Rudio thinking that the last would soon be "wound up."
Fortunately the Sioux did not follow them up, probably thinking they had escaped, and at this point they lay all day.
Lieutenant DeRudio: The night passed and in the dim dawn of day we heard an immense tramping, as of a large cavalry command, and the splashing of the water convinced us that some troops were crossing the river. I imagined it was our command, as I could distinctly hear the sound of the horses shoes striking the stones. I cautiously stepped to the edge of the bushes to look out (I was then no more than three yards from the bank of the river), and thought I recognized some gray horses mounted by men in military blouses, and some of them in white hats. They were, I thought, going out of the valley, and those that had already crossed the river were going up a very steep bluff, while others were crossing after them. I saw one man with a buckskin jacket, pants, top boots and white hat, and felt quite sure I recognized him as Capt. Tom Custer which convinced me that the cavalrymen were of our command.
With this conviction I stepped boldly out on the bank and called to Capt. Custer, "Tom, don't leave us here." The distance was only a few yards and my call was answered by an infernal yell and a discharge of 300 or 400 shots. I then discovered my mistake and found the savages were clad in clothes and mounted on horses which they had captured from our men. :Myself and the soldier jumped into the bushes (the bullets mowing down the branches at every volley), and crawled off to get out of range of the fire. In doing so we moved the top branches of the undergrowth, and the Indians on the top of the bluff fired where they saw the commotion and thus covered us with their rifles.
Both eventually joined Reno and survived.
Lieut. Charles DeRudio
LITTLE BIGHORN CAMPAIGN