Custer’s Best

Company M, Seventh Cavalry, Little Bighorn Battle Roster

Seventh Cavalry insignia

Seventh Cavalry insignia

The following company roster is found in Custer’s Best:

CPT Thomas H. “Tucker” French (Company Commander) [CW] [V2] (MB) {7}

1LT Edward G. “Bible-Thumper” Mathey (detached to command the pack train) [V3]

2LT James G. “Jack” Sturgis (detached with Company E) (KIA)

1SG John “Paddy” Ryan (Company First Sergeant) [CW] [V3] (RS) {3}

SGT Patrick “Patsy” Carey (WIA) [V2] (MB) (RT)

SGT John McGlone [V2] (PT)

SGT Miles O’Hara (KIA) [V2] (AG)

SGT Henry C. Weihe [aka Charles White] (First Duty Sergeant) (WIA) [V2] (AG) (RT)

CPL Henry M. Cody [aka Henry Scollin] (KIA) (AG)

CPL William Lalor [V2] (MB)

CPL Frederick Stressinger (KIA) [V2] (MB)

Trumpeter Charles “Bounce” Fischer (MB)

Trumpeter Henry C. Weaver [CW] (MB)

Saddler John “Jack” Donahoe [V2] (PT)

Farrier William D. “Tinker Bill” Meyer (KIA) [V2] (MB)

Farrier George “Cully” Weaver (MB)

PVT Joseph “Joe” Bates [aka Joseph Murphy] (MB)

PVT Frank Braun (DOW) [R] (AG)

PVT Morris Cain [R] (MB)

PVT James W. Darcy [aka James Wilber] (WIA) [R] (RS)

PVT Henry H. “Harrison” Davis [CW] [V3] (PT)

PVT Jean B. “Frenchy” Gallenne (AG) (H/H)

PVT Jacob H. Gebhart [aka James J. Tanner] (DOW) [R]

PVT Bernard “Barney” Golden (MB)

PVT Henry “Tom” Gordon (KIA) [V2] (AG)

PVT George Heid (MB)

PVT Charles Kavanaugh [CW] (MB)

PVT Henry Klotzbucher (Company Clerk) (KIA) (MB)

PVT George Lorentz (KIA) [V2] (MB)

PVT Daniel Mahoney [R] (MB)

PVT John H. “Snopsy” Meier (WIA) (AG)

PVT Hugh N. Moore [V2] (MB)

PVT William E. “Bill” Morris (WIA) [R] (RS)

PVT Francis “Frank” Neely (AG)

PVT Daniel J. “Dan” Newell (WIA) (AG) (T/B)

PVT Edward D. Pigford (WIA) [R] (MB) {2}

PVT William E. Robinson (detached service as an assistant to Dr. Henry Porter)

PVT Roman “Henry” Rutten (WIA) [V2] (RS)

PVT Hobart Ryder (RS)

PVT William W. Rye [R] (MB)

PVT John Seamans [R] (MB)

PVT Robert Senn [R] (MB)

PVT James W. “Crazy Jim” Severs [V2] (MB)

PVT John “Big Fritz” Sivertsen [V2] (MB) (RT) (T/B)

PVT William C. “Bill” Slaper [R] (MB)

PVT George E. Smith (KIA) [R] (MB)

PVT Frank W. Sniffin (Company Color Bearer) [R] (MB)

PVT Frank Stratton [R] (MB)

PVT David “Sandy” Summers (KIA) (MB) (H/H)

PVT Levi M. Thornberry [R] (MB)

PVT Rollins L. “Robert” Thorpe [R] (AG)

PVT Henry J. “Jim” Turley (KIA) [V2] (AG)

PVT Thomas B. “Happy Jack” Varner (WIA) [R] (MB)

PVT Henry C. Voight (KIA) (MB)

PVT James “Jim” Weeks [R] (MB)

PVT John V. Whisten (MB)

PVT Charles T. Wiedman (WIA) [R] (MB)

PVT Charles H. Williams (MB)


Not Present at the Little Bighorn


SGT William Capes (Powder River Camp)

PVT John Dolan (Powder River Camp)

PVT James McCormick (Powder River Camp)

Wagoner Joseph Ricketts (Powder River Camp)

PVT Walter Sterland (Powder River Camp)

PVT Ferdinand Widmayer (Powder River Camp)

Farrier William Wood (Fort Rice)

PVT John Zametzer (Fort Rice)




CPT=Captain; 1LT=First Lieutenant; 2LT=Second Lieutenant; 1SG=First Sergeant; SGT=Sergeant; CPL=Corporal; PVT=Private


KIA= killed in action; WIA=wounded in action; DOW=died of wounds; CW=Civil War veteran; V1=Battle of Washita veteran; V2=fought Indians on 1873 Yellowstone expedition; V3=veteran of both Washita and Yellowstone campaigns; R=recruit (less than nine months service); AG=on advance guard mission; RS=on 1SG Ryan’s timber scout mission; MB=with main body in valley; PT=detailed to pack train; RT=remained in timber during retreat; H/H=believed to have been a horse-holder; T/B=trained as a blacksmith


{2, 3, 7}=estimated number of enemy warriors that the trooper shot during the entire battle

Company M, Seventh Cavalry, Little Bighorn Battle Roster2016-01-19T06:58:18-06:00

Private Edward Pigford’s Grave

Three brothers, fans of Custer’s Best, recently took a field trip to visit the grave of Private Edward Pigford in Dravosburg, Pennsylvania.  As George, Jack & Mike wrote: “As per your book “Custer’s Best” on page 105, Private Pigford stated, ‘I’d have given all the money I ever expected to have for just one big swig of good licker.’  So we stopped by and had a big swig of good licker for Private Pigford!”

Thanks, guys — from all the troopers in Company M!




Private Edward Pigford’s Grave2015-09-04T21:59:22-06:00

First Sergeant John Ryan Kepi

John Ryan’s Kepi

He wore this cap after his service in the Army when he attended numerous reunions.

First Sergeant John Ryan Kepi2015-09-04T22:02:25-06:00

Custer’s Last Stand

Custer’s Last Stand

“In his first novel, A Garden of Sand, Earl Thompson wrote of Depression-era Kansas in the 1930s.  At one point in the story, he described the inside of a truck-stop, where a young man often fantasizes about doing something bigger with his life than his friends – being a part of something bigger than himself.  Above the jukebox in the old café is an Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company print depicting Custer’s Last Stand, at which point Thompson’s story continues, describing the Americana masterpiece:

“It was a great picture with ponies wild-eyed and frothing in the dust of battle, ridden by howling Indians in warpaint, dropping, dragging, dying like flies, all over it.  And Custer, his hair like golden flypapers, golden mustachios, great white hat, fringed buckskin jacket, supported dying troopers around his knees, his pearl-handled six-guns blazing, mowing down Indians as if they were wheat.  That dusty golden land was of the world and the boy knew.  He lived where Indians had walked.  Where buffalo grazed.  Listen!  For the silent step.  He could look at the picture for hours.  Nuts to Western Union!  When he grew up, he was going with the cavalry.””

Custer’s Last Stand2015-09-12T14:22:05-06:00

Map of the Battle Showing the Defense at Reno Hill

Map of the Battle Showing the Defense at Reno Hill

Company M defended the perimeter of the hill on the side of the Little Bighorn River below the steep slopes of the ridge and hill.  First Sergeant John Ryan engaged warrior sharpshooters on Sharpshooter Ridge, about 900 yards away.

Map of the Battle Showing the Defense at Reno Hill2015-09-12T14:27:10-06:00

First Sergeant John Ryan’s Discharge, back side

John Ryan’s Discharge, back side

Captain Thomas H. French hand-wrote the campaigns on which First Sergeant Ryan participated including the Yellowstone River Expedition in 1873, General Custer’s Black Hills Expedition in 1874 and at the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25th and 26th.  Ryan returned to the Boston area and became a police officer for several decades.

First Sergeant John Ryan’s Discharge, back side2015-09-12T14:31:50-06:00

First Sergeant John Ryan’s Discharge, front side

John Ryan’s Discharge, front side

First Sergeant Ryan finally left the Army in December 1876, about six months after the battle.  The discharge is signed by Major Tilford, who commanded Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, and Captain Thomas H. French, Company M’s commander.  French wrote, “A brave, capable and trustworthy First Sergeant.”

First Sergeant John Ryan’s Discharge, front side2015-09-12T14:35:32-06:00

Private Jean “Frenchy” Gallenne

Private Jean “Frenchy” Gallenne

“Frenchy” served on the advance guard for Reno’s detachment and complained about the high speed the unit was charging.  He survived the battle, serving early on Reno Hill as a water carrier – a feat that earned others the Medal of Honor, but no one in Company M received an award.  The following year, “Frenchy” received a major wound to an ankle and his foot had to be amputated.  This picture shows him in his later years with part of his family.


Private Jean “Frenchy” Gallenne2015-09-12T14:37:30-06:00
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