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'Whose Marker is Next to DeWolf?'
The following is transcribed from a discussion took place in 2006,
in a forum on the site
jimbo117: For years it has been assumed that the second marker next to the ill fated Dr. DeWolf marker was that of Pvt. Elihu Clear of K Co. This is based on the Godfrey recollection that Clear was DeWolfs orderly on this day. However, it turns out that Godfrey may have been wrong on this point. Lt. Luther Hare testified in 1879 that Clear was detailed to him and died at the retreat crossing. If this is so then who died with DeWolf? DeWolfs detailed orderly on this day was actually Pvt. Harry Abbotts of E Co. Since Lt. Varnum testified that Abbotts made it to Reno Hill, this rules him out. If both the Hare and Varnum statements are accurate, the question is who died with DeWolf?
General 76: I have seen footage of the markers and the writing on the one next to DeWolf is Private Clear. It might not be where he died, but his marker is there. It is not the first time a marker is somewhere where it probably should not be.
The Kellogg maker is by far the farthest misplaced on the battlefields. He should be over by the river near Ford D, not north of the Keogh cluster east of Battle Ridge. Dr. Lord is another messed up marker. He was killed on the hill with Corporal Callahan. As far as I know Private Abbots was detailed as Porter's hospital orderly and that is why he survived. Based on my records I have Clear to DeWolf, Abbotts to Porter, and Callahan to Lord. I am not sure why Clear would have been detailed to Hare. Hare was with the Indian scouts and was not with his company. Varnum never mentioned an orderly and I would guess if Hare had one, Varnum would have had one as well. The only explanation for Clear would be he acted as a courier We know he never is mentioned as delivering a message to Custer though. Reno sent two others from the command, and the scout detachment sent Half Yellow Face, and a couple other scouts to Custer. Civilian Fred Girard also delivered information to Cooke. There was no mention of Clear delivering a message. Trumpeter Martin who was with headquarters never mentioned Clear delivering a message either. Kanipe also did not say anything, but he may still have been with his company at this time. The big questions here are, if Clear was detailed to Hare, then who was detailed to Varnum, and who was detailed to DeWolf. Like I said I have Abbott's with Porter, and Callahan to Lord. DeWolf had to have had an orderly. The only man mentioned for this post is Clear.
The marker for Elihu Clear stands beside the marker for Dr. DeWolf
jimbo117: General, check entry 321 in Hardorffs Casualties II on page 107 and 108 submitted by Doug McChristian in regards to orderly assignments. This same info can be found Hardorffs Camp, Custer and the LBH on page 72 in footnote 3. Hare witnessed the death of Clear and his statement is corroborated by Creighton of K Co. You are probably right about the marker being misplaced. It seems that the Clear marker was placed in 1984 when a new marker for DeWolf was put in. Prior to that there was only the DeWolf marker. Since there isn't any additional information on a additional homocide in conjuction with DeWolfs death, it appears that nobody was killed near him.
General 76: Hey Jim I checked your sources and yes indeed you are correct sir. I followed up your sources with two more. One: 1876 Facts About Custer and the Little Bighorn states Clear was orderly to DeWolf. I will have to guess he (Jerry Russell) fell in the same trap as other researchers and placed Clear with DeWolf. A better source I have is Men With Custer by Ronald Nichols. He states Clear was killed while ascending the bluffs, but does not say who he was attached to. Private Harry Abbotts is a different story though. Nichols firmly has Abbotts serving with James DeWolf from May 17, per SO 34, HQ., 7th Cavalry, May 6, 1876. So that is cleared up, no pun intended. As for the Clear marker, it was probably placed near DeWolf's just so it stood out. Hodgson's marker was moved to make it more visible, as well as other markers on the Custer battlefield. We all know Clear was killed at or near the crossing. But by placing it there it would have been out of sight to the visitors. Might as well put it where people can see it. After all the NPS paid for the marker. It would seem a waste to make a marker then hide it from the public just to satisfy historical purposes. Reno Hill is like that. Just look at Little Whirlwind, Long Road, and Dog's Backbone. Their markers are not in the exact spot of their death. The markers were placed so the visitors could see them. As long as the markers are fairly close to their actual kill site I am fine with the placement. It is markers like Lord and Kellogg that bother me. A cool thing about the Clear marker was it was placed in the 1980's. I wish the NPS would go back and replace the markers where men are known to have died. Sgt. Maj. Sharrow's markers should be replaced by a named marker. We know he died near the Indian Memorial. As well as markers for Vickory, Voss, Callahan, and Teeman on LSH. Keogh's marker should be surrounded by Bobo, Wild, Bustard, Patton, and Varden. and the first pairing of markers on the SSL should be replaced with one for Private Weston Harrington. Maybe if I win the lottery someday I will be able to fork over several million to the park and replace all the markers where known men fell.
stk1: General, according to the interview in Custer in 76, Varnum's orderly was Pvt Elijah T. Strode. Bottom of pg 61, my copy.
jimbo117: The guy who can clear up (the pun is unavoidable here) who Clear was assigned to is Hare. If you go to page 278 of the Nichols edition of the RCI You will find that Hare names Clear as "his man" (i.e. orderly) and that Clear brought him his horse and was the first to notify him that a retreat from the Cottonwoods was about to take place. A bit further on in his testimony Hare tells of Clears death at the crossing. Varnum witnessed the death of DeWolf and stated that a man (who Varnum assumed was his orderly) turned back after DeWolf was killed and made it safely to Reno Hill. The confusion here is based on the flawed stories of Godfrey and Ryan. Godfrey names Clear as DeWolfs orderly and places his body near that of DeWolf. Ryan also places Clears body on the spur that DeWolf died on. Yet neither one of these individuals witnessed the deaths of Clear or DeWolf which makes their stories somewhat suspect.
General 76: Good stuff stk1. Thanks for the info. I have that book and will jot down that info.
General 76: Do you know of any testimony from the survivors that tell of Dr. Porter's hospital attendants? I would guess Abbotts was with him after DeWolf's death. But did we ever figure out who Porter's orderly was that day? That man should have been with Porter as well....