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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1857

Vol. II

(Born Ill.)

Marcus A. Reno

(Ap'd Ill.)


Marcus Albert Reno: Born Nov. 15, 1834, Carrollton, IL.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, Sep. 1, 1851,º  p689 to July 1, 1857, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut. of Dragoons, July 1, 1857.

Served on frontier duty at Ft. Walla Walla, Wash., 1858‑59, — Scouting,

(Second Lieut., 1st Dragoons, June 14, 1858)

1859, — Ft. Dalles, Or., 1859, — Ft. Walla Walla, Wash., 1859‑61.

First Lieut., 1st Dragoons, Apr. 25, 1861: 1st Cavalry, Aug. 3, 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in the

(Captain, 1st Cavalry, Nov. 12, 1861)

Defenses of Washington, D. C., Jan. to Mar., 1862; in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Mar. to Aug., 1862, being engaged in the Siege of Yorktown, Apr. 5 to May 4, 1862, — Battle of Williamsburg, May 4‑5, 1862, — Battle of Mechanicsville, June 26, 1862, — Battle of Gaines's Mill, June 27, 1862, — Battle of Glendale, June 30, 1862, — Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862; in command of 1st Cavalry (Army of the Potomac), in the Maryland Campaign, Sep.‑Oct., 1862, being engaged in the Combat of Crampton's Gap, Sep. 14, 1862, — Battle of Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862, — and Skirmish at Sharpsburg, Sep. 19, 1862; on Detached service, Oct.‑Nov., 1862; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Dec., 1862, to Mar., 1863, being engaged in the Action at Kelly's Ford, Va., Mar. 17, 1863; on leave of absence

(Bvt. Major, Mar. 17, 1863,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in Action at Kelly's Ford, Va.)

absence, disabled by injures received at Kelly's Ford, Mar. 18 to May 1, 1863; on Recruiting service, May 1 to June 20, 1863; as Chief of General W. F. Smith's staff, with Pennsylvania Militia, June 20 to July 12, 1863, being engaged in a Skirmish at Hagerstown, Md., July 10, 1863; on Recruiting service, July 12 to Oct. 1, 1863; on the Rappahannock (Army of the Potomac), Oct., 1863, to Mar., 1864; as Assistant in the Cavalry Bureau at Washington, D. C., Mar. to May, 1864; as Acting Asst. Inspector-General of 1st Division of Cavalry Corps (Army of the Potomac), in the Richmond Campaign, May to Aug., 1864, being engaged in the Battle of Hawes's Shop, May 28, 1864, — Battle of Cold Harbor, May 31 to June 1, 1864, — Battle of Trevillian Station, June 11, 1864, — Action of Darbytown, July 28, 1864, — and various Skirmishes, June‑July, 1864; as Chief of Staff of the Cavalry in the Shenandoah Campaign, Aug. 9, 1864, to Jan. 1, 1865, being engaged in the Skirmishes at Winchester, Aug. 16, Kearnysville, Aug. 25, and Smithfield, Aug. 29, 1864, — and Battle of Cedar Creek, Oct. 19, 1864; and

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Col., Oct. 19, 1864,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Va.)

(Colonel, 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry Volunteers, Jan. 1 to July 20, 1865)

in command of Brigade, Jan. to July, 1865, being engaged in a Skirmish at Harmony, Va., with Mosby's Guerrillas, Mar., 1865.

Bvt. Colonel, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services during the Rebellion.

Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services during the Rebellion.

Served: at the Military Academy as Assistant Instructor of Infantry Tactics, Aug. 31 to Oct. 2, 1865; at New Orleans, La., in Freedmen's Bureau, Dec. 4, 1865, to Aug. 28, 1866; on leave of absence, Aug. 28, 1866, to Feb. 8, 1867; in conducting Recruits to California, Apr., 1867;  p690 on frontier duty at Ft. Vancouver, Wash., May 6 to June 22, 1867; as Acting Assistant Inspector-General, Department of the Columbia, June 22, 1867, to June 15, 1869; en route to headquarters of Department

(Major, 7th Cavalry, Dec. 26, 1868)

of the Missouri, and on leave of absence to Aug., 1869; on Court Martial at Santa Fé, N. M., Aug. 23 to Nov., 1869; on frontier duty at Ft. Hays, Kan., Dec. 19, 1869, to July, 1871, being engaged in Scouting in Colorado, May to Aug., 1870; as Member of Retiring Board at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., Aug., 1869, to Feb., 1870; in garrison at Spartanburg, S. C., July 21, 1871, to Aug. 22, 1872; as Member of Small-Arms Board, Aug., 1872, to Apr., 1873; in garrison at St. Paul, Min., Apr. to June, 1873; in command of Escort to the Northern Boundary Survey, to Oct. 22, 1873; on sick leave of absence, Oct. 28, 1873, to May 1, 1874; in command of Ft. Totten, Dak., May 25 to June 1, 1874, — and of Escort to the Northern Boundary Survey, June 1 to Sep., 1874; on leave of absence, Sep. 22, 1874, to Oct. 24, 1875; on frontier duty at Ft. Lincoln, Dak., Oct. 30, 1875, to Dec. 15, 1876 (commanding regiment, June 26 to Oct. 18, 1876), except while engaged in the Sioux Expedition, May 11 to Sep. 22, 1876, — and Ft. Abercrombie, Dak., Dec. 17, 1876, to Feb. 28, 1877; before Court Martial at St. Paul, Min., to May 1, 1877 and undergoing sentence of two years' suspension,​a May 1, 1877, to May 1, 1879; in command of Ft. Meade, Dak., to July 17, 1879, and on duty thereat to Oct. 28, 1879; and in arrest to Apr. 1, 1880.

Dismissed from the Army, Apr. 1, 1880,
for "Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline."​b

Died, Apr. 1, 1889, at Washington, D. C.: Aged 57.

Buried, Custer National Cemetery, Crow Agency, MT.

Thayer's Notes:

a Reno was Custer's second-in‑command on the field that cost the latter his life; since he survived, having retreated, he was tried by the Army in 1877 and found guilty of cowardice, with a recommendation of dismissal, commuted by President Hayes to a two-year suspension; in 1879, Court of Inquiry found him innocent.

Custer's reputation — for undoubted bravery — much assisted by his own talent for self-promotion, and then ardent support from those who survived him (in particular his widow), made it easy — and, for many, appealing — to throw blame for the Little Big Horn disaster on Reno, but reasonable opinions differ even today: a good summary of the facts from the pro-Reno side can be found here.

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b The dishonorable discharge, for personal behavior not directly related to the earlier court-martial, was reversed by the Army in 1967.

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Page updated: 18 May 14