The Trumpeteer Carbine has surfaced again
Giovanni Crisostomo Martino arrived in the U.S. from the Old World in 1873, just three years later, he was an orderly/bugler assigned to Co. H of the 7th U.S. Cavalry, then known by the more anglicized “John Martin.” On the morning of 25 June, famously bewhiskered Lt. William W. Cooke– a 30-year-old career horse soldier who earned his spurs as a 14-year-old member of the 24th New York Cavalry– dashed off a note to Capt. Frederick Benteen– who had D, H, and K Companies of the 7th just over the next hill– and gave it to Martino/Martin to carry at speed.
“Benteen. Come On. Big village. Be quick. Bring packs. WW Cooke. P.S. Bring Packs. “
Of course, the bulk of the 7th Cavalry (Coys C, E, F, I, and L), to include Cooke and his commander, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer (USMA 1860), were all killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn later that day. Cooke was reportedly twice scalped, once for his head and another time for his impressive whiskers. Benteen, along with Maj. Reno and his three companies, came only in time to catalog the battlefield.
As for Martin/Martino, he survived the engagement and went on to die in Brooklyn in 1922, a true immigrant’s tale.
However, prior to leaving Cooke, he apparently handed off his Springfield Trapdoor .45-70 to a fellow trooper who was not so lucky. It was used at the battle– as has been forensically confirmed– and is now at auction this week, called “one of the most historically significant American guns on the market.”
More in my column at Guns.com