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Custer the American Hero?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by major bill, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry Sergeant

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    Not sure. By skilful manoeuvre he could have probably got a better result at Gettysburg without shattering his brigade. But then what do I know?
     
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  3. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Corporal

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    Well, it might never be settled to the satisfaction of every single Custer student, but the vast majority of Custer scholars now agree that Custer acted perfectly rationally and soundly given what he knew and when he knew it, that Benteen clearly disobeyed Custer's repeated orders to come to him, and that Reno lied about not hearing substantial gunfire, not knowing that Custer was in a pitched battle, and believing that Custer was going to support him from the rear.
     
  4. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry Sergeant

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    That just confirms the internal divisions within the 7th Cav. Custer lost the dressing room, apart from his favourites. The 7th was malfunctioning from the top down.
     
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  5. dlofting

    dlofting Sergeant

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    You may well be right, but we'll never know for sure......and that mystery is all part of the fun of studying the LBH.
     
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  6. 48th Miss.

    48th Miss. Sergeant

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    I have heard that the Army in the west at this time was undisciplined, bored, and drank a lot with VD issues, If true this would have been a long way from an active Union Army in pursuit of the CSA when Custer flurished more. Any trueth to this??
     
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  7. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    The postwar Army was no picnic, but other leaders were able to function without playing favorites and dividing their commands.
     
  8. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 Captain Silver Patron

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    Custer has to be given full credit for some of the best self promotion around, he understood how to play the newspapers, he cultivated an image that made him stand out. If you look at any group photo of Custer, he manages to stand out, that whole cavalier image he cultivated was a stroke of genius. I see the man as a true romantic, a lover and a fighter, a real life Errol Flynn.
     
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  9. unicornforge

    unicornforge First Sergeant

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  10. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 Private

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    I think Poles and many Steppe peoples were better. The Cossacks gave the Poles fits during the Deluge and the Poles could give Turks and Tatars fits. Steppe peoples humbled kings and brought down empires.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016
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  11. Eric Wittenberg

    Eric Wittenberg Sergeant Major Forum Host

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  12. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 Private

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    The Chippewa were possibly the most formidable of the Indians having defeated the mighty Iroquois in the Beaver Wars, having driven the Sioux out of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota and having played a large part in the greatest defeat the United States suffered from Indians, the Battle of the Wabash. And they defeated the Regular Army in it's last fight with Indians, the battle of Sugar Point at Leech Lake Minnesota in 1898.
     
  13. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    I believe his wife should be given credit for turning him into a national hero after his death. She made a very nice living selling Custer.
     
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  14. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Corporal

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    Or it means that his two top subordinates displayed insubordination and/or cowardice. When General Terry arrived, the surviving soldiers were harshly critical of Major Reno. There is ample evidence that most of the soldiers on Reno Hill wanted to go help Custer. By most accounts, Custer was popular with his men.

    What part of "come on . . . be quick" did Benteen not understand, especially when that same message was conveyed to him twice verbally (by Martin and Kanipe), in addition to being written down?
     
  15. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 Private

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    Custer believed he'd been discovered and so attacked without scoping things out. I think Custer's defeat was obviously a result of biting off more than he could chew as a result of that. But the defeat was also due to Benteen's slowness and Reno's funking out.

    And perhaps Reno's reaction was largely because of the general habit of American cavalry to dismount and shoot guns rather than use steel and shock tactics. Custer's troops didn't even have sabers. I often think that a squadron of British or Polish cavalry armed with lance or sword would've plunged right through the town on the Little Big Horn and spread confusion and panic among the Indians.

    I often wonder too how MacKenzie and the 4th would've handled the situation. And what alternatives did Custer have? Should he have shadowed the Indians until Gibbon came up? This would run the risk of the Indians breaking up into small bands impossible to shadow. I don't know. I tend to think he was right to fight the Indians that day but obviously he should've fought them better. But every battle has a loser.
     
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  16. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry Sergeant

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    You're right there was cowardice. Reno was most probably drunk. There was a deeply fractured officer cadre in the 7th. It was not half the calibre of later Civil War Cavalry Regiments. It was the perfect storm.
     
  17. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 Captain Silver Patron

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    Grant gave the order but Mosby held Custer accountable for the seven executions, to be fair, Custer was taking Grant's orders to the extreme. Mosby called Custer 'Attila the Hun'.
     
  18. TerryB

    TerryB Major

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    Don't much care for him myself. His fool-hardy end has more to do with it that anything else.
     
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  19. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry Sergeant

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    Isn't fun though, though not obviously to those that died at the LBH, that debate is still so polarised about Custer all these years later? This is in microcosm,what history is.
     
  20. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Corporal

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    In point of fact, Custer fought expertly that day, but he of course did not know that Benteen would disobey a direct order given to him three times. Nor did he know that Reno would panic so early and would foolishly leave an excellent position like the timber and get one-fourth of his command killed in the process (even the Indians later expressed amazement that Reno had left the timber). Nor did he know that Reno would display abject cowardice on Reno Hill and refuse to come to his aid for nearly an hour, even after Benteen showed him Custer's written order to come to him quickly.

    To understand Custer and his last battle, one must understand that politics played a decisive role in the early reporting and writing on the battle and on Custer in general. Custer was not only a Democrat, he was an ardent "McClellan man." The Radicals hated him with a passion, and much of the Republican press smeared him with every rhetorical weapon at their disposal.

    General Terry was a Republican. Terry said nothing about Custer allegedly disobeying orders in his first report on the incident. But then, a short time later, Terry decided that not only had Custer disobeyed his orders but that Custer had thrown his entire plan out of whack by his actions (a claim that many scholars now view as doubtful). Grant, whose corrupt administration Custer had helped expose, sank into the gutter and publicly placed all the blame on Custer just days after the battle, before there had been any kind of investigation.

    It is rather remarkable that nearly all Custer scholars now reject the 19-century Republican portrayal of Custer, given that on so many other issues the Republican version of the middle and late 1800s is still the dominant view among historians. Perhaps part of the reason for the fairness and objectivity now shown toward Custer is that he was a diehard Union man who played a critical role in the Union war effort--indeed, one could argue that Custer played a decisive role in helping Meade win the Battle of Gettysburg.
     
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  21. Rebforever

    Rebforever Captain

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    One can argue back and forwards for ages but I have always said what the problem really was- Too many Indians! :bye:
     

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