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George Armstrong Custer

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Buckeye Bill, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

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    * On this day in 1839, American Civil War Union Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer was born in New Rumley, Harrison County, Ohio. Although he is best known for his demise at the hands of the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Montana,in 1876, Custer built a reputation as a dashing and effective cavalry leader during the Civil War.

    Custer entered West Point in 1857, where he earned low grades and numerous demerits for his mischievous behavior. He graduated last in the class of 1861. Despite his poor academic showing, Custer did not have to wait long to see military action. Less than two months after leaving West Point, Custer fought in the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia,in July 1861.

    Custer served the entire war in the Army of the Potomac. He was present for nearly all of the army’s major battles, and became, at age 23, the youngest general in the Union army in June 1863. He led the Michigan cavalry brigade in General Judson Kilpatrick’s 3rd Cavalry Division. Shortly after his promotion, Custer and his “Wolverines” played a key role in stopping Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry attack, which helped preserve the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As a leader, Custer earned the respect of his men because he personally led every charge in battle. Wrote one observer of Custer’s command, “So brave a man I never saw and as competent as brave. Under him a man is ashamed to be cowardly. Under him our men can achieve wonders.”

    He achieved his greatest battlefield success in the campaigns of 1864. At the Battle of Yellow Tavern, Virginia, on May 11, 1864, Custer led the charge that resulted in the death of Stuart. One month later at Trevilian Station, Virginia, Custer’s command attacked a supply train before being surrounded by Confederate cavalry. His men formed a triangle and bravely held off the Rebels until help arrived. In October, Custer’s men scored a decisive victory over the Confederate cavalry at Tom’s Brook in the Shenandoah Valley, the most one-sided Yankee cavalry victory of the war in the East.
    Custer was demoted to lieutenant colonel in the downsizing that took place after the Civil War ended. He was much less effective in his postwar assignments fighting Native Americans, and his reckless assault on the camp at Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, led to his death and earned him an unsavory reputation that overshadowed his earlier success in the Civil War.

    * History.com

    Custer_Portrait.jpg
     

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  3. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

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    * Little Bighorn National Battlefield Monument

    DSC_0023.JPG

    * Photo courtesy of William Bechmann (2015)
     
  4. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    He is a greatly admired man here in Michiagn and regarded as a true American hero.
     
  5. zburkett

    zburkett Sergeant

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    His bio is more complex, but there is no question he is an American hero. He is not that popular here in Mosby's Confederacy.
     
  6. Reb

    Reb Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    What did he do to be called a true American hero?
     
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  7. Greg Taylor

    Greg Taylor Sergeant Major

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    An American hero to some, a villain to others. Larger than life. Makes my top 10 list for the most interesting characters of 20th. century American history.
     
  8. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Most historical figures are both heroes ans villains Around here The Boy General has almost idol status.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
  9. zburkett

    zburkett Sergeant

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    I'll give you that one Greg, "larger than life" is a better choice of words than "hero".
     
  10. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

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    I really enjoy studying Custer's American Civil War service in the United States Army.

    But studying his service in the Indian Wars is extremely disturbing.

    Washita, Oklahoma to Little Big Horn, Montana, my opinion changed from hero to villain.

    Standing on the Little Bighorn Battlefield is a very sobering experience.

    Standing on the Little Bighorn Battlefield also changed my view of Custer.

    From respect to shame.......

    Bill
     
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  11. MaryDee

    MaryDee Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    He's not that popular out west. I grew up in Wyoming and the general opinion was "Custer was an idiot." Another "charge first, ask questions later" sort of cavalryman, along with "Kill-Cavalry."
     
  12. photoman475

    photoman475 Sergeant

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    I'm reading Nate Philbrick's The Last Stand, about Custer and the 7th Cav at Little Big Horn. It may be the best book on Custer written. Philbrick has done an excellent job describing Custer during the war and how his reputation went from hero to perhaps villian. I say perhaps because I haven't finished the book; I just got to the start of the battle and Custer just got done splitting his command.

    The "joke" here in North Dakota is "Custer was healthy when he left...." I've never figured out just how serious that comment is supposed to be!

    Alan-not a native North Dakotan
    Pvt., 5th Minnesota VIR, USV
     
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  13. Patrick H

    Patrick H Major

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    Bill, you have written a nice tribute to Custer and a nice synopsis of the events of his life which brought him down to your tribute. I would expect nothing less from you. You always do such a great job here--regardless of your chosen topic.
    Now, all that said, I must say that I have never been a huge Custer fan. I am very sorry he had to die the way he did and I am TRULY sorry for the brave men who followed him into that trap.

    I have nothing in particular against Custer. I just don't subscribe to the adulation of him.

    But I still think you posted one HECK of a nice tribute to him here and I thank you.

    Pat
     
  14. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

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    I first visited the Gettysburg National Military Park in 2002. As I toured the East Cavalry Battlefield, I gained a lot of respect for Custer and his accomplishments in the American Civil War.

    I first visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield in 2013. As I toured this Hallowed Ground, I lost a lot of respect for Custer and his disgraceful actions in the Indian Wars.

    Bill
     
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  15. Patrick H

    Patrick H Major

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    I think it is pretty common for many of us to have very conflicted thoughts and emotions about some of the great characters and events of our nation's history. All I know for sure is that it is common for me to have those conflicted feelings.
     
  16. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

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    Amen.....
     
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  17. Legion Para

    Legion Para 1st Lieutenant Retired Moderator

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  18. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    For many years Custer, the beau sabreur, was considered a great military hero. Starting in the 1970s this seem to have changed and his leadership has been questioned . Is this an example of rewriting history? Perhaps we should be outraged at this attempt to change history.
     
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  19. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

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    I find the animosity between Custer and Benteen to be a very interesting topic. Did Benteen's letter to higher command in reference to the Washita River Massacre poison Custer's decision making at the Battle of Little Bighorn? So many questions regarding this Montana debacle.

    In my opinion, questioning history's accuracy is very healthy.

    Bill
     
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  20. Aussie Billy Sherman

    Aussie Billy Sherman First Sergeant

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    Wasn't Benteen himself a much regarded civil war hero?
     
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  21. FZ11

    FZ11 Sergeant Major

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    Yes,Benteen was a Civil War hero and very brave officer. Benteen had an,almost,pathological hatred of Custer.
     

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