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    Description

    Marcus Reno Autograph Letter Signed "M. A. Reno." One page, 8" x 10", on lined paper, Vancouver [Washington], August 17, 1867. Known today for his role during the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, Reno, in late 1867, was a captain serving as acting assistant inspector general of the Department of Columbia stationed at Fort Vancouver. It was during his time in the Pacific Northwest that he applied for, and was accepted into, the Freemasons. Addressed to "the Washington Lodge No. 4, F. &. A. M," the letter reads in full:

    "I respectfully request a dispensation of time enabling me to be raised to the Third Degree, for the following reasons.

    "That before the next regular meeting of the Lodge, two weeks hence, I will be required to be absent for one month more or less, & I desire the benefits of this degree while absent."

    Reno was granted the third degree (Master Mason) four days later, on August 21, 1867. In December of 1868, Reno received a promotion to major and joined the famed Seventh Cavalry at Fort Hays, Kansas. His impeccable military reputation was tarnished, however, after the Battle of Little Bighorn, when he was accused of abandoning Custer and his 264 men to their deaths. Reno had been ordered to attack the Indian encampment from the southeast and, after realizing he was outnumbered, ordered his men to retreat across the Little Bighorn River where he set up a defensive position. He was subsequently court-martialed not once, but twice, and was discharged dishonorably in 1880, a decision which was overturned in 1967, nearly 90 years later.

    Accompanying the letter is the "Report of Committee on Petition," undated (circa July 1867), of the Washington Lodge No. 4 where Reno, misspelled "Roeno," is found "worthy in all respects" for "initiation in this Lodge." Aside from the expected folds and only light staining evident on the letter, both documents are in fine condition.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2012
    11th-12th Wednesday-Thursday
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