Michigan city seeks expert to discuss future of Custer site

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
I don't see how anyone honestly and objectively could examine Fort Pillow and Washita, and not conclude Washita more deservedly earns the title massacre.....and hence war crime.

First of all they didn't bother to see if it was even the right bands village.....it wasn't. Then most accounts admit indiscriminate killing of women and children. They also take women and children hostage as human shields........And while at Fort Pillow well over 1/2 were taken prisoner.......at Washita they executed all the wounded men captured .....
Good points.

Custer had no clue who had been killed in fact after the battle he had to interview his officers to find out how many Indians had died a total of 103 was given although Indian accounts say only around 20 warriors and around 20 women and Children.

Custer attacked the Village on the advice of his Osage scouts who told him that a War party trail of some 200 Cheyenne the ones responsible for over 150 white deaths led to the village.

As for the Human shield policy Custer wrote that the Indian warriors would not fight if their family members were in danger therefore avoiding useless bloodshed and bring about a peaceful resolution but of course this is debateable.

The Osage scouts took no part in the battle but did arrive right after it had took place to take scalps , The Osage were enemies of the Lakota and Cheyenne and it is not mentioned their role afterwards.

I think its right to compare Pillow and Washita both commanders came under scrutiny for the actions of their troops , Both suffered very light losses compared to those inflicted but we will never know if both commanders were complicit in what happened.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Custer was arrogant but he did not hate the Indians in fact he chose sides and grew very close to the Crow tribe which mourned his loss.
The Crow had owned much of the land the Great Sioux wars were fought on in fact a large portion of the Crow lands were taken in the 1850s - 1860s including the Black Hills as far as the Crow were concerned Custer was a liberator and a friend to the Crow people so I find it strange that people judge Custer as a war criminal.

I suspect if you visit the Crow reservation today they will have a different opinion of Custer than the Sioux and the mainstream liberal media.
I know some Absarokas - don't make too large a wager on that one.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Good points.

Custer had no clue who had been killed in fact after the battle he had to interview his officers to find out how many Indians had died a total of 103 was given although Indian accounts say only around 20 warriors and around 20 women and Children.

Custer attacked the Village on the advice of his Osage scouts who told him that a War party trail of some 200 Cheyenne the ones responsible for over 150 white deaths led to the village.

As for the Human shield policy Custer wrote that the Indian warriors would not fight if their family members were in danger therefore avoiding useless bloodshed and bring about a peaceful resolution but of course this is debateable.

The Osage scouts took no part in the battle but did arrive right after it had took place to take scalps , The Osage were enemies of the Lakota and Cheyenne and it is not mentioned their role afterwards.

I think its right to compare Pillow and Washita both commanders came under scrutiny for the actions of their troops , Both suffered very light losses compared to those inflicted but we will never know if both commanders were complicit in what happened.
"owned"?
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
I know some Absarokas - don't make too large a wager on that one.
A Crow Indian guide said this...

Quote:

A frequent question: Why were the Crow Indians on Team Custer? (Crow warriors were U.S. military scouts.)

"I tell them we and the Sioux fought a Hundred Years' War for this land," she said. "People don't understand the dynamics of the tribes at all. You can't be a traitor to someone who is your enemy."

She described traditional Crow Land as a "Garden of Eden" under pressure from neighbors, and she disputes history books that put the Crow in the region in about the year 1400. She pegs it at around the year 1000.

Quote:

Another one: Do other tribes hate the Crow?

"I guarantee you there are Lakota and Blackfeet saying don't marry a Crow," she said. Intermarriage and time has lessened the animosity, but among older generations "there's more hatred."

Olivia R. Williamson of Indian Battle Tours.

End Quote..

Obviously the Crow were looking out for their own concerns they sided with the US as an enemy of an enemy so to speak but I would be interested to know how the modern Crow tribal member's think of Custer and the 7th Cavalry considering they were allies.

My memory is sketchy here but didn't some Crow turn on the US was it called the Powder Keg War?.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
A Crow Indian guide said this...

Quote:

A frequent question: Why were the Crow Indians on Team Custer? (Crow warriors were U.S. military scouts.)

"I tell them we and the Sioux fought a Hundred Years' War for this land," she said. "People don't understand the dynamics of the tribes at all. You can't be a traitor to someone who is your enemy."

She described traditional Crow Land as a "Garden of Eden" under pressure from neighbors, and she disputes history books that put the Crow in the region in about the year 1400. She pegs it at around the year 1000.

Quote:

Another one: Do other tribes hate the Crow?

"I guarantee you there are Lakota and Blackfeet saying don't marry a Crow," she said. Intermarriage and time has lessened the animosity, but among older generations "there's more hatred."

Olivia R. Williamson of Indian Battle Tours.

End Quote..

Obviously the Crow were looking out for their own concerns they sided with the US as an enemy of an enemy so to speak but I would be interested to know how the modern Crow tribal member's think of Custer and the 7th Cavalry considering they were allies.

My memory is sketchy here but didn't some Crow turn on the US was it called the Powder Keg War?.
I know of the guide who you're quoting. I would not confuse views in the Crow Nation of the scouts with anybody seeing Custer as a hero. It's essential to keep in mind that some nations/tribes had leaders who early on figured out that - like it or not - their survival depended on complying with the whites and securing what they could - Plenty Coups with the Crows and Washakie with the Shoshones come to mind. There are still vestiges of inter-tribal rivalry but it's also been eroding over generations. Today there are concerns that are common to most tribes - the decades of mismanagement by the BIA, the way authorities from the outside have created and manipulated intra-tribal political matters on reservations, drug and alcohol problems, etc. It would be a mistake to pin this on "the liberal media". The Crow Nation came out strongly in support of Haaland as Secretary of the Interior. The media has little to no influence on the views of most tribal members (a lot can't even access it). And the Crow Nation has taken on the authorities regarding land issues, as well - such as actually enforcing treaty allocations of hunting rights that were long ago eliminated. I'll stick by my assessment of Custer. (He wasn't much of a role model from a military perspective, either).
 

CMWinkler

Colonel
Forum Host
Retired Moderator
Joined
Oct 17, 2012
Location
Middle Tennessee
I hate to be contrarian, but I think popular conception of Ft. Pillow as a “massacre” are wrong and used to smear Forrest.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
I hate to be contrarian, but I think popular conception of Ft. Pillow as a “massacre” are wrong and used to smear Forrest.
Well considering the attack killed 277+ Union soldiers at a loss of only 15 of Forrest's men I doubt it was a smear campaign , We have eye witness accounts from both sides that confirm unarmed surrendering men were shot down but ill readily admit the North milked it as you would expect any government would.

Custer and Forrest it could be argued might or might not have been compliant when it came down to it but we will never know as they took what knowledge they had to the grave.

What we do know about Custer was he was rash , impulsive , vain and cared little about the men under his command.

I always remember a comment made by a Lakota when he stated Custer men had no teeth and smelled like a dead bear i found it quite amusing considering these were the elite cavalry.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
Good points.

Custer had no clue who had been killed in fact after the battle he had to interview his officers to find out how many Indians had died a total of 103 was given although Indian accounts say only around 20 warriors and around 20 women and Children.

Custer attacked the Village on the advice of his Osage scouts who told him that a War party trail of some 200 Cheyenne the ones responsible for over 150 white deaths led to the village.

As for the Human shield policy Custer wrote that the Indian warriors would not fight if their family members were in danger therefore avoiding useless bloodshed and bring about a peaceful resolution but of course this is debateable.

The Osage scouts took no part in the battle but did arrive right after it had took place to take scalps , The Osage were enemies of the Lakota and Cheyenne and it is not mentioned their role afterwards.

I think its right to compare Pillow and Washita both commanders came under scrutiny for the actions of their troops , Both suffered very light losses compared to those inflicted but we will never know if both commanders were complicit in what happened.
At Washita the US losses were largely from a headstrung junior officer leading a detail in pursuit away from the village, supposedly exclaiming "for a brevet or the coffin" away from the main battle they found the coffin......which it's hard to fault Custer for a junior officers foolishness.

Though Custer deservedly was criticized for leaving without accounting for them, caused lasting resentment from some like Benteen. Militaries normally pride themselves on a concept of not leaving their men behind or unaccounted for.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
At Washita the US losses were largely from a headstrung junior officer leading a detail in pursuit away from the village, supposedly exclaiming "for a brevet or the coffin" away from the main battle they found the coffin......which it's hard to fault Custer for a junior officers foolishness.

Though Custer deservedly was criticized for leaving without accounting for them, caused lasting resentment from some like Benteen. Militaries normally pride themselves on a concept of not leaving their men behind or unaccounted for.
Yamashita would beg to differ. And I'm fine with the fact that he had to account for what was done by those under his command, including headstrong junior officers. The buck stops there.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI

Michigan city seeks expert to discuss future of Custer site​


Monroe – A city in southeastern Michigan wants to hire an expert to try to reach a community consensus over the future of a monument dedicated to Gen. George Custer.

Custer, who lived in Monroe, has long been recognized as a heroic Army officer, first during the Civil War. But critics note that he also went to war against Native Americans before dying at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/n...-expert-discuss-future-custer-site/115683540/
I am a resident of Monroe, and good friends with The General, Steve Alexander.
Steve is perhaps the most knowledgeable man in the world on the life of General Custer. In fact, it is sometimes hard to determine the difference. He lives in the actual Custer home. It is museum like in quality. He is a noted author, has appeared at Custer in the west and at Reenactments in Gettysburg and other Civil War battles. We have held symposiums at the museum where many notable Civil War historians have spoken in the past. However, the City seems to have no interest in seeking him out any more.
The museum knows all of us ("The Custer clan has we call ourselves). Unfortunately, Monroe just does not want to hear dissenting opinion anymore.
The City has removed all the signs that were there for years. "Home of General Custer" signs. The museum has moved away from making Custer their emphasis. Aren't you interested in Lay-z-Boy more?
This is also how the River Raison museum came to pass. They suddenly felt the 1812 war was more important. We called city hall out. We have visitors arrive from all over the country and internationally. They want to see Custer, and the River Raison is a small foot note. We have the buildings Custer frequented. Soldiers and Sailors Park which is a park dedicated to the Medal of Honor recipients and the KIA from Monroe County in the Civil War. Near by is the Woodlawn Cemetery. The Custer family plot is there (of course, minus The General and Libbie and Tom). The church the Custer's married in is here. The restaurant and bar that was the place Custer got his last drunk on is here. Next door a boot shop where they still have a signed receipt for a pair of boots he bought there. Of course, we have the Gettysburg monument "Sighting the Enemy." They want that taken down. Custer was our tourist attraction. The 1812 war just does not have that same draw.

You guys are fine historians. You can discuss the Native American history intelligently. It has been my experience, the opposition to Custer generally cannot. It is like history really does not matter to them. It all comes down to "Custer helped in genocide." When you ask them if they know of any one else who commanded troops post war in the west, they rarely can mention one other name. Men like Ranald Mackenzie, Chivington, Sheridan, Fetterman, they don't know. In their eyes Custer was a one man death machine and real words of reason are not sought.
Hence, our once history exhibit filled Custer week has been whittled down to nothing and Steve is no longer welcome to participate in gatherings in Monroe.

Sadly, this is the true state of affairs. The statue, "Sighting the Enemy" will go, you can bet on it.
It is not a pretty picture these days.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Well considering the attack killed 277+ Union soldiers at a loss of only 15 of Forrest's men I doubt it was a smear campaign , We have eye witness accounts from both sides that confirm unarmed surrendering men were shot down but ill readily admit the North milked it as you would expect any government would.

Custer and Forrest it could be argued might or might not have been compliant when it came down to it but we will never know as they took what knowledge they had to the grave.

What we do know about Custer was he was rash , impulsive , vain and cared little about the men under his command.

I always remember a comment made by a Lakota when he stated Custer men had no teeth and smelled like a dead bear i found it quite amusing considering these were the elite cavalry.
I'm not sure anybody would regard the ranks of the 7th or of any other cavalry regiments in the reduced army after the Civil War as "elite". Hard, dirty work in scattered outposts across an otherwise barren landscape.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
I am a resident of Monroe, and good friends with The General, Steve Alexander.
Steve is perhaps the most knowledgeable man in the world on the life of General Custer. In fact, it is sometimes hard to determine the difference. He lives in the actual Custer home. It is museum like in quality. He is a noted author, has appeared at Custer in the west and at Reenactments in Gettysburg and other Civil War battles. We have held symposiums at the museum where many notable Civil War historians have spoken in the past. However, the City seems to have no interest in seeking him out any more.
The museum knows all of us ("The Custer clan has we call ourselves). Unfortunately, Monroe just does not want to hear dissenting opinion anymore.
The City has removed all the signs that were there for years. "Home of General Custer" signs. The museum has moved away from making Custer their emphasis. Aren't you interested in Lay-z-Boy more?
This is also how the River Raison museum came to pass. They suddenly felt the 1812 war was more important. We called city hall out. We have visitors arrive from all over the country and internationally. They want to see Custer, and the River Raison is a small foot note. We have the buildings Custer frequented. Soldiers and Sailors Park which is a park dedicated to the Medal of Honor recipients and the KIA from Monroe County in the Civil War. Near by is the Woodlawn Cemetery. The Custer family plot is there (of course, minus The General and Libbie and Tom). The church the Custer's married in is here. The restaurant and bar that was the place Custer got his last drunk on is here. Next door a boot shop where they still have a signed receipt for a pair of boots he bought there. Of course, we have the Gettysburg monument "Sighting the Enemy." They want that taken down. Custer was our tourist attraction. The 1812 war just does not have that same draw.

You guys are fine historians. You can discuss the Native American history intelligently. It has been my experience, the opposition to Custer generally cannot. It is like history really does not matter to them. It all comes down to "Custer helped in genocide." When you ask them if they know of any one else who commanded troops post war in the west, they rarely can mention one other name. Men like Ranald Mackenzie, Chivington, Sheridan, Fetterman, they don't know. In their eyes Custer was a one man death machine and real words of reason are not sought.
Hence, our once history exhibit filled Custer week has been whittled down to nothing and Steve is no longer welcome to participate in gatherings in Monroe.

Sadly, this is the true state of affairs. The statue, "Sighting the Enemy" will go, you can bet on it.
It is not a pretty picture these days.
I think the River Raisin project is important but it is ironic that they are OK with promoting a part of our history where as many as 100 wounded prisoners of war were killed by the Potawatomi.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
I'm not sure anybody would regard the ranks of the 7th or of any other cavalry regiments in the reduced army after the Civil War as "elite". Hard, dirty work in scattered outposts across an otherwise barren landscape.
I agree , most were immigrants , Irish , German , English , Scots , Swedish etc most were no taller than 5ft 7 with poor diet and worn down vertebrae which much have been painful.

Even so the 7th was treated as an elite unit by the newspapers and people back east but as you say the reality is something different.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
I think the River Raisin project is important but it is ironic that they are OK with promoting a part of our history where as many as 100 wounded prisoners of war were killed by the Potawatomi.
It isn't the money maker Custer is. Few know anything about River Raison. At least, they don't show up asking about it. Custer is our number 1 pitch.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I think the River Raisin project is important but it is ironic that they are OK with promoting a part of our history where as many as 100 wounded prisoners of war were killed by the Potawatomi.
True, although it's useful to keep in mind that the Potawatomi were allied with the British - not the first time that the British used Native American allies or that things got out of hand as part of that alliance.
 
I think the River Raisin project is important but it is ironic that they are OK with promoting a part of our history where as many as 100 wounded prisoners of war were killed by the Potawatomi.
If you're referring to the January 22, 1813 massacre at Frenchtown, I thought that 397 Americans were killed by Potawatomi's surprise attack on the troops' encampment.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
If you're referring to the January 22, 1813 massacre at Frenchtown, I thought that 397 Americans were killed by Potawatomi's surprise attack on the troops' encampment.
The British forces took approximately 500 prisoners . Proctor marched those that could march to Fort Malden but left as many as 100 wounded POWs behind . The Potawatomi set the buildings that were housing the POWs on fire and killed any who attempted to escape . The massacre helped recruit many Kentuckians looking for vengeance .
 
The British forces took approximately 500 prisoners . Proctor marched those that could march to Fort Malden but left as many as 100 wounded POWs behind . The Potawatomi set the buildings that were housing the POWs on fire and killed any who attempted to escape . The massacre helped recruit many Kentuckians looking for vengeance .
Ok, thanks. I took my information from a book I own but I can't remember which one (I have about 400 to 500).
This is the post I made a few years back based on what was in the book I used:
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-war-of-1812.89634/#post-992854
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
It isn't the money maker Custer is. Few know anything about River Raison. At least, they don't show up asking about it. Custer is our number 1 pitch.
I actually am a big proponent of a lot more education and awareness about the War of 1812 in this country - which still tends to be limited to Francis Scott Key, the burning of the Capitol, and the Battle of New Orleans (maybe with some "garnishment" of the USS Constitution). There were a lot of important events in the Niagara/"Upper Canada", the Chesapeake, the Lakes, and the "northwestern" and southern "frontiers" that a large part of the population just doesn't know about. That's why I was happy to see the ABT a few years ago adding AWI and War of 1812 sites to their preservation efforts.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
I actually am a big proponent of a lot more education and awareness about the War of 1812 in this country - which still tends to be limited to Francis Scott Key, the burning of the Capitol, and the Battle of New Orleans (maybe with some "garnishment" of the USS Constitution). There were a lot of important events in the Niagara/"Upper Canada", the Chesapeake, the Lakes, and the "northwestern" and southern "frontiers" that a large part of the population just doesn't know about. That's why I was happy to see the ABT a few years ago adding AWI and War of 1812 sites to their preservation efforts.
I understand that. It is actually a very nice museum. Of course, the issue we have is they want to replace Custer. They are not bothering to teach real Custer history. They are letting the most important aspects go untaught. That is tragic, IMO.

It is my opinion Custer saved the Union at East Cavalry Field. I am in agreement with Carhart's book, but I know every time I say that, it is time to stand by! I am preparing to receive incoming now!
 
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