24 June 1906
Brooklyn Standard Union


   John MARTIN, or "Bugler" MARTIN, as his war veteran friends call him, the 
only survivor of the Custer Massacre at Little Big Horn River, Montana, June 
22, 1876, is a Brooklyn man. To-day he goes, in company with a number of former 
comrades-in-arms, members of the George A. Custer Garrison, of the Army and 
Navy Union, to West Point, where reposes the body of the famous general and 
Indian fighter. Bugler MARTIN will there do honor to the memory of the commander 
he loved and knew so well in life by sounding "taps" over the hero's grave. 
His companions will decorate the mound of earth with garlands as tributes to the 
peerless valor of the great Indian fighter.

   MARTIN is a member of the Charles F. Roe Garrison, No. 71, but will go to 
West Point as a guest of Custer Garrison, No. 2, of Brooklyn. The memorial 
committee consists of Alexander MC LEAN, chairman; Thomas J. MEADOWS, M. J.  
RYAN, Commander Casper HURST and Secretary and Treasurer Edward V. MURTAGH. The 
party, including a number of members of the garrison, will leave on the boat 
from the foot of Franklin street, Manhattan, at 9 o'clock. The ceremonies are 
scheduled to take place at 12 o'clock noon, and the Gen. John Sedgwick Garrison, 
No. 79, will meet the Brooklynites at West Point under command of Louis 

   Sala Conizalina, Italy, was the place of MARTIN's birth, in 1847. He came 
to this country when a young man and soon drifted into the army, where he 
served as a "regular" for upwards of thirty years. For the past few years he has 
been a resident of Brooklyn, filling a clerical position for a livelihood.

   Of the whole command under CUSTER at the time of his death at the hands of 
treacherous Sioux Indians, Bugler MARTIN is the only one who escaped the 
ambush. He is proud of the distinction that falls naturally upon him on account of 
the part he played in the fight against the uprisings of the Indians in the 

   It was by almost a miracle that Bugler John MARTIN escaped the death that 
overtook all his comrades in the command. On the day of the massacre, June 25, 
1876, Custer came upon a large encampment of Indians mostly Sioux on the 
Little Big Horn River. The whole command had been divided up into several 
divisions under Gen. CUSTER, Major RENO, Capt. BENTEEN and a few other officers. 
The plan was for CUSTER and his men to advance upon the savage foe and engage 
them in battle, while RENO attacked them in the rear. The general hoped thereby 
to hem the Indians in and defeat them.

   Gen. CUSTER miscalculated the strength of the force to which he was 
opposed, and soon perceived that he was in a trap. Accordingly he called Bugler 
MARTIN and bade him hasten to RENO for reinforcements. MARTIN mounted his horse, 
got beyond the lines and sought out RENO. The latter, however, was found to be 
faring badly at the hands of the savage Sioux and when MARTIN encountered him 
he was beating a retreat. He was too weak himself to render aid to CUSTER.
   Meanwhile, CUSTER, surrounded completely by yelling, bloodthirsty savages, 
with all roads of escape cut off, with ammunition diminishing and his men 
dying around him, was fighting the fight of a tiger at bay. MARTIN, two miles 
away, could hear the fierce fusillades as the redskins and whites clashed in what 
was destined to be the last mortal combat of the United States regulars.

   The story of Bugler MARTIN, telling of his connection with the massacre, 
is an interesting one. Speaking of it he said, retrospectively:
   "I was not directly under CUSTER's command on the day preceding the 
massacre, but was a member of the Seventh Cavalry. On the morning of June 25, I was 
detailed to the command of CUSTER, and reported to him. "Stand by me," he 
said, "for I may need you." I sounded several calls for him, and was with him 
during the forenoon.
   "We marched for some distance until the scouts came in and informed us 
that the hostile Indians were fast closing around us. Meanwhile Major RENO was 
about three miles off, commanding another division. When CUSTER saw that we were 
in such close quarters and in such imminent danger, he called me to him and 
said that he wanted me to carry a note to RENO requesting immediate 
   "I took the note, and mounting my horse, started off in the direction of 
RENO's command. I had not gone far before the Indians sighted me and began 
firing upon me. I escaped them unharmed, and when at a safe distance, turned 
around and saw a band of redskins waving buffalo robes in front of the horses of 
CUSTER's men, which were unmounted. The horses took flight and left the command 
on foot.
   "Not hesitating a moment, I rode on to find Major RENO. I came upon his 
command as it was in retreat, having met reverses with the Indians. 
Nevertheless, he tried to return to the succor of the doomed CUSTER. In trying to 
make a short cut, however, he came upon an impassable road and was detained."
   "When we finally arrived at the scene of the fray we found nothing but a 
heap of bodies. All the command, consisting of five companies, had been 
slaughtered and all of them scalped, with the exception of CUSTER himself. He was 
killed, however. The only living thing in sight was the horse Comanche, ridden by 
CUSTER. The animal was standing bravely upon its feet, although there were 
nine bullets in its body."
   "Comanche was fondly attended to and taken care of and lived for several 
years to be the pet and idol of the Seventh Cavalry."
"The reason that CUSTER, of all the men, was not scalped, was because he was 
the commander, and was in all probability the most heroic. This made the 
Indians respect him, and according to their custom, they did not disgrace his body. 
This is proof in a way, that he was the last man to fall, for had he fallen 
first, he would have been looked upon as a puny brave, and scalped. That 
Comanche was standing, too, testifies to the heroic fight that CUSTER must have 

   Bugler MARTIN has war records and papers that are invaluable. When RENO 
was tried later to see if he had performed his duty in the battle of the Little 
Big Horn River, and it was found by the court that he did all that could have 
been done, Bugler MARTIN was officially mentioned as the only living witness 
of the march of CUSTER's command before the fatal battle. This record is 
preserved to this day and is authentic.

   MARTIN has weathered well all the storms of life. He does not look the 
years that have passed him by and is bright and cheerful. He has survived 
terrible hardships; hardships such as would cause many strong men to go to the wall. 
He is a product of war, and saw the grim god at his worst. When the 
expeditions were sent against the Indians in 1876, those who fought for 
Uncle Sam had a strenuous existence. On every hand were hostile tribes, 
and treachery abounded.

   Although thirty years have intervened between that June day in 1876, when 
MARTIN set out bravely to bring aid to his distressed commander who was so 
soon to be slaughtered, the bugler has remembered clearly all that happened. Also 
he has not forgotten how to sound martial strains upon his bugle. Often he 
practices the old calls, and of them all he loves "taps" the best. It is one of 
the most plaintive, sorrowful dirges ever devised by mortal man. There is 
infinite sorrow in it; but it is manly grief and is deep and powerful. But through 
it all there rings a note of triumph. The man who is dead has conquered 
death, the worst enemy that any of us have to encounter, and therefore the martial 
strains of victory intermingle, and finally break through the plaintive notes 
of grief.

   Never was there a soldier who did not shed a tear at the sounding of 
"taps," or, if there was, he was not a true one. When Bugler MARTIN sounds the call 
over the grave of General CUSTER and the surrounding hills and cliffs and 
dales take up the echoes and carry them on to the winged soul of the hero of 
Little Big Horn, it is safe to say that he will shed not one, but many tears. He 
and his companions, most of whom knew CUSTER, will stand for a moment in 
wrapped (sic) silence, with hoary heads uncovered to the breeze. Then, with tender 
reverence they will lay each his offering - a flower, a reed, a bouquet - upon 
the mounded sward. Then they will go away. Maybe they will linger awhile and 
talk over old times. And when this has been done the hero of the Indian 
expedition of 1876 cannot be said to have died in vain.

NOTE: The above article is written 'verbatim'. The prejudice view of history and
description of the Sioux is NOT the view of the admisnistrator of this page.
It shames me deeply to have to include such a report as the above. 

Transcriber: Mary Musco