"The entire Custer story has been surrounded in mystery and I recall an elderly Colonel telling me once of a story that used to circulate in army circles that there were men who knew an unpublished truth about the story, but who were pledged never to reveal it."
Ronald Reagan, Governor of California, President of the United States, letter to John A. Minion, July 15, 1965. in Louise Barnett, Touched by Fire, Henry Holt Company, 1996, page 331
Chronology of how the US army decided to betray General Custer instead of bringing Major Reno and Captain Benteen to justice, and how this decision will continue to haunt the USA.
25 June 1876: MONTANA
Captain Frederick W. Benteen and Major Marcus A. Reno commit crimes of high treason by voluntarily letting General George A. Custer and 210 men being slaughtered by American Indians. Benteen, Reno and their 400 soldiers survive with a majority of soldiers who have not shot a single bullet until the evening of June 25.
27 June 1876: MONTANA
General Terry discovers 2/3 of the 7th cavalry which survived the Little Bighorn. Strangely enough, 400 soldiers out of 647 survived the battle, while 210 soldiers, whith the commander himself, died a few miles away. At a gallop, these 400 soldiers could have given support to their comrades in 15 minutes (studies by US General-in-chief Nelson A. Miles, 1877).
4 July 1876: PHILADELPHIA
America learns of the defeat on the very day of her Centennial. For Generals Sherman and Sheridan, the reputation of the US army is at stakes. It is obvious that something is strange about the fact that the overwhelming majority of the soldiers actually survived the massacre, except the commander and his staff. The US army convenes no court of inquiry. No court martial. Nothing.
September 1876: WASHINGTON D.C.
General Custer had testified against the well known corruption of the Grant administration. Now, Ulysses Grant has his revenge: in the newspapers, he presents Little Bighorn as Custer's "sacrifice of soldiers". This is the official call for the US army: no inquiry will ever take place. Captain Weir, the officer who tried to stop the betrayal, is brought to New York and put under pressure. Newspapers begin to speak about Major Reno's and Captain Benteen's strange (in)actions.
October 1876: WASHINGTON D.C.
Captain Frederic Whittaker speaks in the press about the betrayal. He tries to convince Captain Weir to testify againt Benteen and Reno but the Captain, depressed, is ruining his life with alcohol. He severely damages his health.
Meanwhile, Major George Elliott, of the US army, sends a memo to modify the maps of the Little Bighorn. In a few months, many maps of the Little Bighorn are destroyed. The official fairy tale of a "undiscovered country" are given to the press. Moreover, an enormous Indian village, with thousands of fake warriors, is created on new maps.
December 1876: NEW YORK
Captain Thomas Weir dies from severe depression, alone. In 1879, the US army official newspaper would welcome an article, written by Captain Benteen, saying that Captain Weir was a drug addict.
Autumn 1878: WASHINGTON
Two years have passed, with no inquiry on the Little Bighorn. The public pressure on Major Reno has been huge. The Major decides to ask for an inquiry. He knows that the US army, who has decided since day one to cover his ass, will not let him down.
The betrayal of the code of honor can now be complete, there is no turning back for the US army. By linking itself with those who had betrayed Custer, by faking evidence and refusing any legal protection to General Custer, the army covers itself with dishonor.
Autumn 1878: CHICAGO
The Reno Court of Inquiry starts near General Sheridan's office. The officer responsible for the hearings, Lt Jesse Lee, is under heavy pressure by the army. Once, Col Merritt directly threatens him of losing his job if he continues to ask interesting questions to witnesses.
Only 23 selected witnesses (out of 380 + survivors) are asked to testify. The US army threatens them of losing their job and career if they do not protect Major Reno. The civilian scouts are the only people really critical of Reno's conduct. However, in their testimonies, many officers and soldiers give very damaging comments on Capt Benteen and Maj Reno.
A "petition by the enlisted soldiers" to praise Benteen and Reno is presented by Reno's defense to the court. In 1951, the FBI, at the request of the Little Bighorn battlefield, would discover that this petition is full of fake signatures (Superintendant McChristian: "many signatures, if not the majority, are fake.")
A map of the battle is presented by Major Reno as the copy of Lt Maguire's map. A study by Cartographic Inc.(1995) would show that this map was a fake one, with huge differences with Maguire's map. The change had been made to exonerate Reno and Benteen.
The Reno Court of Inquiry finally releases his report - but no one can see it. In the final days of the hearings, chairman Jesse Lee officially says that Major Reno and Captain Benteen are guilty of perjuries when they said that they could not hear anything of Custer's fight. Nevertheless, the court concludes that Major Reno is innocent.
The President of the United States and the US army accept the report.
The report is locked up in the US army buildings.
The US army and the US government officially "legalize" the defamation on General Custer. In 1884, General Merritt whitewashes Custer's participation in the Shenandoah Campaign (the Civil War) in a book.
1898: WASHINGTON D.C.
The controversy has lived on. Many critics of the Court of inquiry have continued to speak out for truth, including the US General-in-chief Nelson A. Miles, who gets the confession of chairman Jesse Lee. Miles condemns Reno and Benteen for treason and is ashamed that the US army hasn't done any official and extensive inquiry on the battle.
1931 : WASHINGTON D.C.
The US army puts the archives of the Reno Court of Inquiry on microfilm. 50% of the archives of this unofficial inquiry are destroyed, an illegal act .
1951 : WASHINGTON D.C.
Under pressure by the officer of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) William Graham, the US army finally releases the microfilm to the public. Graham discovers that many reports of hearings are missing. Some parts of the RCOI even contain useless pages of newspapers.
The defamation on General Custer lives on. He is the only officer in US history whose entire career has been whitewashed in such ways that his successes (if known) are credited to "luck", and his failures are utterly exaggerated or invented for purpose. He is depicted as a fool, a womanizer, a drunk coward and an incompetent soldier.
1965 - AMERICA
With the civil rights getting media exposure, the American Indians work hard to rewrite history, defame American pioneers and depict themselves as innocent victims of systematic killings. They are helped by the ignorance of new generations of Americans, by anti-American feelings among US citizens and by the fall of the American pride during the anti-Vietnam (and mostly anti-American) protests.
Looking for a scapegoat to advance their agenda, the American Indians discover that General Custer can be defamed without any reaction by the US army or anyone else. In fact, they joyfully understand that everyone can invent whatever he wants on Custer and presents is as the truth. The fictionous story of "Custer the war criminal" is created.
Of course, most of the US historians who should defend historical accuracy do not react. You can defame Custer. It is the new national sport. Turn off the TV and begin a book on Custer based on what you discussed yesterday with grandpa. No one will react to your fairy tale.
2009 - AMERICA
General George Armstrong Custer, prodigy of the American Civil War, American hero, American soldier, American citizen, is mocked, tarnished, insulted, forgotten by his nation. His entire life has been whitewashed.
It is the result of one century of lies by the very organisation he swore to serve until his death.
General George Armstrong Custer served the US army and his flag, and the US army protected the officers who betrayed him.
General Custer has never had any legal protection, any defenders in military circles, except individual officers or the US General-in-Chief Nelson A. Miles.
By covering up acts of high treason by Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen, the US army and the US government betrayed their soldiers, their values, their citizens, their history, their code of honor and their Constitution.
The US army has commited an act of high treason that should be carved in the walls of the Department of Veteran Affairs.
So if someone asks why the USA do not stand up for General Custer against the anti-American propaganda spread by today's American Indians, it is because they do not want to stand up for him.
For American historians - who have conveniently look the other way, for the US army, for the US Department of Veteran Affairs, General Custer must never be a real historical subject.
You can make movies insulting General Custer in every way possible. You can defame him, you can even try to desecrate the graves of soldiers at the Little Bighorn battlefield. You can rename the battlefield in order to honor those who killed 263 US soldiers and General Custer.
You can do whatever you want, but you MUST NOT dig in the case.
Don't you understand ? Truth has never been important in this criminal case. Most historians have accepted the theory of the "convenient mystery". Every year, they come up with impossible theories, politically correct bullcrap and the ever-lasting fairy tales.
Watching most documentaries on Little Bighorn - except the documentary made by the BBC, a British channel - is like spending the day on Cartoon Networks: interviews of useless "witnesses" (some Indian found on the way to Little Bighorn who had enough time to speak before lunch), so-called experts who have never heard of the Reno Court of Inquiry, and the formidable Joe Medicine Crow, Medal of Freedom recipient, World War II hero, who creates a new story on what his grandfather "heard" for every new documentary (as for now, we have 35 different stories of how Custer discovered the fake big village).
What a pathetic disgrace.
Little Bighorn is a 133-year old lie.
"(Reno was a ) yellow streaked coward. (...)
(Benteen was a) disloyal officer openly disobeying his commanding officer's orders, which he had in his pocket, and a traitor to his comrades and his country. (...)
With 380 men and the ammunition packs closed up, Benteen and Reno could and ought to have made that effort to save Custer's command. They they did not do so and it will always be recorded as a crime."
Captain Robert Carter, Indian fighter of Mackenzie's command, friend of surviving officers of the 7th cavalry, Little Bighorn researcher and Medal of Honor Recipient. Captain Carter thought that justice would be done and the honor of his country preserved. He was wrong.
This is the lesson: the honor of a United States officer, and the truth on which an entire nation is based on, means little.