This Week In Quartermaster History
|In 25 June 1876, the 7th
Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, engaged the
combined Sioux and Cheyenne forces along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Eastern
Before the attack Custer had divided his command into three battalions. Every man who was with Custer died that day. But soldiers under the command of Major Marcus Reno & Captain Frederick Benteen survived. They were besieged for two days on the bluffs above the Little Bighorn, by an estimated 3000 warriors. By the second day, the men were suffering from a lack of water, especially the wounded.
Benteen called for volunteers to make an attempt to get to the river and fill canteens. Seventeen volunteered. Four men were selected to provide covering fire including Blacksmith Henry Mechlin and Saddler Sergeant Otto Voit, both Quartermasters. Exposing themselves, they fired constantly for more than 20 minutes diverting fire and attention from another group filling canteens of water that were desperately needed.
Nineteen Medal of Honors were later awarded for heroism at the Little Bighorn. Two of those went to Mechlin and Voit.
Compiled by the
U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps Historian
Fort Lee, Virginia