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Jacob Adams's Story of the Battle, #2
THE STORY OF PRIVATE JACOB ADAMS
I was with the packs, and before we came to the bluffs where Benteen and Reno were, we halted the packs back on the low ground. While lying there we saw a single horseman coming toward us pretty fast, and although we could not tell whether he was a white man or Indian, I said I would go out and meet him and did so. His horse had been running and was about winded. He was a white man about forty-five years old, sandy hair, thick set man, with a goatee and moustache. He said he thought they were fighting up ahead. Said his horse had run away with him and he could not control him. He joined the packs there with us. [Note: this could be John Brennan or John Fitzgerald.]
I went with Benteen over to Custer battlefield on p.m. of June 27. Down near the river and before we came to any dead men we found three or four dead horses. Custer lay within a circle of dead horses on a flat place at the end of the ridge. Tom Custer lay back of him and not near the horses. Quite a distance east of Custer (down near Keogh and between Keogh and Custer) the dead bodies lay thick, and among these were identified dead men from all of the five companies. We came to the conclusion then and there that the fight had been a rout, a running fight.
When we found Old Comanche he was sitting on his haunches, braced back on his forefeet. We lifted him up in his feeble condition and he followed us around.
Bodies were mutilated in every conceivable way. One dead body had one leg nicely cut off, as with a sharp knife, at the hip joint. It was done so carefully that the bowels had not come out. Bodies were mutilated in every conceivable way, some being set up on elbows and knees and the hind parts shot full of arrows. On our way back to Reno Hill we crossed the river and rode through the village, and on the way we saw a body of horsemen coming. Benteen looked through his glasses and said he thought they were Indians, and Reno told him to command the co. Benteen had us draw pistols, ready for a charge, when we discovered them to be a troop of the 2nd Cavalry.
Lieut. Gibson and I went to McIntosh's body. The fire had run through the grass and scorched it. Gibson wanted me to get a pack mule and take it up on Reno Hill, but I disliked the job and told him I knew of no way to pack it, so he decided to have it buried where it lay, and I buried it there.
On the trip over to Custer ridge on June 27 Sergeant Geiger and I were in the rear with a pack mule loaded with ammunition. When Benteen got ready to charge, I rode up and joined the line. Geiger ordered me back and made all kinds of threats, but I told him if they were going to charge through Indians I proposed to be with the charging party and not in the rear with him and the mule where we would surely be gobbled up."
Says that on the hill Benteen had the heel of his boot shot off. In bottom Isaiah's [Isaiah Dorman] body lay not farther from timber than 40 or 50 yards. Charlie Reynolds's body lay farther from the timber.
After we left Pease Bottom, we camped north side of Yellowstone, opposite Rosebud. After we broke camp there I saw a dead soldier and dead horse south of Yellowstone and within sight of Yellowstone only a few miles from it. The body was then thought to be one of L troop men who had been with Custer and scalped. The carbine was with the body and all equipment, and the leather sling was still over the shoulder. We concluded that both the man and the horse had been wounded and had gotten that far and given out. This find was considered no unusual thing, and I do not suppose one of our officers would have gone to see it if he had heard about it. [Note: This could be Nathan Short.]
Walter Mason Camp's Notes:
1 Walter Camp field notes, folder 43, BYU Library. Jacob Adams was a private in Company H, 7th Cavalry. He was with the pack train on June 25 in the hilltop fight and in a water party on June 26. He was born in Stark County, Ohio, June 25, 1852. He enlisted in 1873 and was with the 7th Cavalry detachment that arrested Rain-In-The-Face at Standing Rock Agency in 1875. After he was discharged in 1878, he resided near Vincennes, Indiana, and later near Kalamazoo, Michigan. His account, "A Survivor's Story of the Custer Massacre on the American Frontier," is found in The Journal of American History, 1909, 3:2.
Custer in '76: Walter Camp's Notes on the Custer Fight, edited by Kenneth Hammer, Brigham Young University Press 1976 p 121 - 122
Here is another, much more detailed account by Jacob Adams.
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