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Custer the American Hero?

Discussion in 'Other Notable Biographies' started by major bill, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    I have purchased three new books about General Custer or one of his regiments in the last two months. I already had 6 books about this subject. There seems to be some people who have a dislike for General Custer. He seemed to have performed fairly well during the Civil War. Custer was not perfect, but what officer was? General Custer is considered a major hero of the Civil War here in Michigan. I fail to understand why some people seem to dislike Custer.
     

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  3. Bee

    Bee 2nd Lieutenant

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    It depends on who you ask. If you ask anyone from the Native side of my family, they are not likely to agree with your assessment of his heroics.
     
  4. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry First Sergeant

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    Washita hung like a millstone round his neck & rightly too. He was an impulse commander - & the impulse was always chaaaarge!!!
     
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  5. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

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    My first thought is probably because generations of White people have been taught to view him as the looser at Little Big Horn . . . and nothing else.

    I would also guess that many people are not even aware of his Civil War service.

    Actually that's sad.

    Custer has always been one of my favorite personalities of the War.

    He was a colorful character to say the least.
     
  6. Bee

    Bee 2nd Lieutenant

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    Actually, in the Native memory of Custer, Washita has more impact. I say this all in a very distant observational tone, because Custer to me, is a very complex individual. I have bought Eric Wittenberg's book Glory Enough For All, and I am very interested in the chapter: Custer's First and Last Stand: The Fight For Hampton's Wagons.
     
  7. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

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    I totally agree.
     
  8. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    Custer is a hero here in Michigan. I must admit I have never heard a Michigan Indian call him one. Custer came from Monroe Michigan and Monroe was once Frenchtown the site of the two Battles of Frenchtown and the River Raisin Massacre and should have known better.

    I have visited the War of 1812 sites in Michigan, to include the Battle of Brownstown Creek and the Battle of Monguagon, and those silly Wyandotte fought a battle with American soldiers right in the middle of a high School parting lot. What were they thinking? They could have shot a poor high school student's car. Well maybe the Wyandotte village of Monguagon (Maguaga) pre dated the high school. Note they have recently discovered artifacts and now believe they know exactly where the Wyandotte village of Monguagon was located. Very cool.
     
  9. Albert Sailhorst

    Albert Sailhorst 2nd Lieutenant

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    In a general sense, Cuter is only remembered for getting killed....Other people, who fought the Indians and "won", are also "forgotten" by White People......their "Hero" status and deeds are not taught in schools or in movies the way Custer has been for getting killed....In my opinion, it's the same as the Alamo.....had they won, there'd only be a few lines about them in High School History books (if any lines at all) but they were all killed, thus elevating them to "Hero" or even "martyr" status.....
     
  10. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    Well I am sure some people see Custer as a martyr. I am not sure what Michigan Indians though of Custer being killed. The Indians Custer die fighting were no friends of most Michigan Indians. I know when the French in Michigan tried to end the war between the Chippewa and Sioux , one Chippewa leader stated that all the Sioux were good for was to eat and if the war between the Chippewa and Sioux ended his people would surely starve.
     
  11. Bee

    Bee 2nd Lieutenant

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    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Much betrayal to go around amongst the tribes.
     
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  12. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

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    That's exactly the opinion I was trying to convey . . . you said it much better !
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
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  13. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry First Sergeant

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    I think it is a product of our Anglo-Saxon culture, we love to extol heroic failures; Napoleon, The Alamo, Robert E Lee...& Custer.
     
  14. MajGenl.Meade

    MajGenl.Meade Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    Yeah, well - don't forget he was an Ohioan. So who cares what Michigan thinks? :smile:

    He was a brave man; exactly the kind of cavalry leader the North needed; impetuous, beloved by his men and with an ego only slightly smaller than McClellan's. As a typical "military man of his time", his actions out West are at best dubious and at worst reprehensible to our modern sensibilities and to the people he hurt.

    It's a also true that for some US cavalry officers nothing in their War of Rebellion lives made a deeper impact on public perception than their deaths or their bloody actions did: Fetterman, Custer, Keogh, Chivington, Canby.
     
  15. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    You got there first! He must have been a pip. I'm sorry, who dresses that way and trails around a bazillion dogs? And bluffs a column of cavalry that should have eaten yours for breakfast, head-on, and wins? There was a thread not long ago on Libby being determined to keep his memory alive- or perhaps did she over-do how big was his personality? Bet she did not. On the other hand try living with a man who insisted on keeping 20 plus dogs and refused to wear a thing which matched. Maybe Libby just, plain liked a man who was a little bit of a handful.

    Hero? In context here and there maybe? Custer wasn't a huge name during the war which was one of those things it took some un-learning about ( thank you Eric ), since my generation had a slightly garbled presentation on the man. The Civil War and Indian War became a little blurred all together- pretty funny. Well, so was being taught Custer was in some way minding his own business when those pesky Injuns came along and cheated.

    Agree perhaps dying was what rocketed the guy to fame and kept him there- still, those boy generals were something special if not exactly Buford or Hampton. Also worth 45 Kilpatricks.
     
  16. mkyzzzrdet

    mkyzzzrdet Private

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    Major Bill - do you have "Custer Victorious" by Gregory Urwin.? It talks primarily about his Civil War adventures, and is definitely pro-Custer.
     
  17. FZ11

    FZ11 Sergeant Major

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    Custer was,at once,a Hero and a Jerk. So some remember him as a Hero,which he was.....and some remember him as a Jerk,which he was,also. Custer was overly condemned for his loss at the LBH. Jmo.
     
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  18. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry First Sergeant

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    Yes in the Civil War he was a hero, if rather like a cockerel on the haystack. His reputation as an Indian fighter is harder for us to understand. He didn't scout at Washita adequately and Major Elliot was left to die. As I stated before, his first instinct was always to charge...in the end his luck ran out & his deficiencies caught up with him & the men under his command at LBH.
     
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  19. MajGenl.Meade

    MajGenl.Meade Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    My favorite re Custer post-war remains Flashman and the Redskins. Very politically incorrect.
     
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  20. Martini-Henry

    Martini-Henry First Sergeant

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    Evan S Connell's book - Son of the Morning Star is a good read,(sticking my neck out here). It focuses in on the internal divisions within the command structure of the 7th Cav.

    Custer mutilations at LBH;
    Custer having an arrow shoved into his private parts. From my readings I knew that this was a delicate way of saying that he had an arrow thrust into his penis.

    He also had two knitting needles pushed into his ears. Legend has it that this was done by Indian women because Custer had refused to listen. Pretty gruesome stuff. Without any background it further paints the warriors as savages; lending further credence to the belief that they were a foe who deserved their eventual fate at the hands of the US government.

    During the tour the next day Brian addressed this issue and pointed out why the soldiers had been mutilated. The Indians believed that the afterlife would be pretty similar to one’s life on earth. Therefore they needed their body to continue their same lifestyle. They cut off the soldier’s trigger fingers so they would not be able to fire a gun and hunt in the afterlife. The mutilation of his penis was so Custer would be even further hobbled and not be able to create offspring. Okay, it’s still gruesome but at least now I understand it in context.

    source: http://www.changesinlongitude.com/custers-last-stand-mutilation/
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  21. LibertyAndUnion

    LibertyAndUnion Private

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    Custer certainly wasn't a great Union cavalry leader compared to Buford, probably the best of the war. And, regarding his ultimately fate, Custer and his men would've fared even worse if he tried to steal my home!!! :smile:
     
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