"Under Custer's Command" by Sgt. James Henry Avery, 5th Michigan Cavalry

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
It is always a wonderful day when I discover a Custer book I did not have. This one is by a Sergeant who served under Custer and his writings are compiled and edited by Eric J. Wittenberg.
It is immediatley obvious the pride in which Avery took in serving under General Custer. What I immediatly liked, too, is this perspective is from and enlisted man. We already have General Kidd's fine book about his days serving in the Michigan Cavalry Brigade, and it is immediatly obvious both men, like the Brigade itself, absolutely adored their commanding officer.

The book is notable from the start that originally Avery wanted to enlist in Berdan's sharpshooters, but there were no vacancies available, and hence, Avery winds up in the cavalry. One of the first things he talks about is his new Spencer carbine. These are touches an enlisted man would give.

I will provide updates as asked, as I just received the book by mail today. It is yet another fine look into the men under Custer, and their views of their commanding officer, General GA Custer.
 

Trooper "D"

Corporal
Joined
May 20, 2018
It is always a wonderful day when I discover a Custer book I did not have. This one is by a Sergeant who served under Custer and his writings are compiled and edited by Eric J. Wittenberg.
It is immediatley obvious the pride in which Avery took in serving under General Custer. What I immediatly liked, too, is this perspective is from and enlisted man. We already have General Kidd's fine book about his days serving in the Michigan Cavalry Brigade, and it is immediatly obvious both men, like the Brigade itself, absolutely adored their commanding officer.

The book is notable from the start that originally Avery wanted to enlist in Berdan's sharpshooters, but there were no vacancies available, and hence, Avery winds up in the cavalry. One of the first things he talks about is his new Spencer carbine. These are touches an enlisted man would give.

I will provide updates as asked, as I just received the book by mail today. It is yet another fine look into the men under Custer, and their views of their commanding officer, General GA Custer.
Ol' George A. is such an interesting person with his career. I dug around quite a bit looking for LBH info. The Natives did not share the good Sergeant's adoration apparently.
Custer Apollo on YouTube has a 32 segment walk through of General Custer's movements with the 7th Cavalry Battalion for that event and leading up to it. He's very knowledgable on the Battle and if you are not familiar with his presentation I highly recommend it. You may not agree with his conclusions but it's worth watching for in depth play by play action presented in an easy to mentally digest format. He really cleared up the sequence if events for me which I had previously never really wrapped my head around completely.
Being a Confederate I cant say I shed a tear for him or his Brother but I do respect the men fighting to the last with certain annihilation looming if nobody showed up to help them. Creeps me out when I think of those last survivors surrounded by hordes of hostiles and their dead and dying comrades and vainly looking for any sign of Benteen and the rest of the pack train they were counting on.
I think George's War of Secession years are much more upbeat to read about.
Just an FYI again and.....
Cheers!
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
Ol' George A. is such an interesting person with his career. I dug around quite a bit looking for LBH info. The Natives did not share the good Sergeant's adoration apparently.
Custer Apollo on YouTube has a 32 segment walk through of General Custer's movements with the 7th Cavalry Battalion for that event and leading up to it. He's very knowledgable on the Battle and if you are not familiar with his presentation I highly recommend it. You may not agree with his conclusions but it's worth watching for in depth play by play action presented in an easy to mentally digest format. He really cleared up the sequence if events for me which I had previously never really wrapped my head around completely.
Being a Confederate I cant say I shed a tear for him or his Brother but I do respect the men fighting to the last with certain annihilation looming if nobody showed up to help them. Creeps me out when I think of those last survivors surrounded by hordes of hostiles and their dead and dying comrades and vainly looking for any sign of Benteen and the rest of the pack train they were counting on.
I think George's War of Secession years are much more upbeat to read about.
Just an FYI again and.....
Cheers!
I am always careful not to mesh the Civil War careers with the Indian Wars careers of any of these officers. You will find all of them are so radically different. The wars, and the demands on the officers were much different. The men were different.

I do suggest reading "Riding With Custer; Recollections of a Cavalryman in the Civil War" by JH Kidd. Kidd was an officer in a Michigan cavalry regiment when Custer assumed command of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. Also I recommend I also reccommend "Under Custer's Command" by Sergeant James Henery Avery. These are the observations of two men, one an officer, the other a Sergeant, of Custer as they served under him during the war. There are plenty of good books on Custer post-war, such as Sergeant Ryan's book, and many others. I also suggest reading Custer's own book, My Life on the Plains, and his wife's books, three of them, as they also give us one of the best views of the old west around. Custer knew all the big names and they came by often. In otherwords, I try to stick to those who knew him. Far better than the opinions of historians, I think.
 

Trooper "D"

Corporal
Joined
May 20, 2018
I am always careful not to mesh the Civil War careers with the Indian Wars careers of any of these officers. You will find all of them are so radically different. The wars, and the demands on the officers were much different. The men were different.

I do suggest reading "Riding With Custer; Recollections of a Cavalryman in the Civil War" by JH Kidd. Kidd was an officer in a Michigan cavalry regiment when Custer assumed command of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. Also I recommend I also reccommend "Under Custer's Command" by Sergeant James Henery Avery. These are the observations of two men, one an officer, the other a Sergeant, of Custer as they served under him during the war. There are plenty of good books on Custer post-war, such as Sergeant Ryan's book, and many others. I also suggest reading Custer's own book, My Life on the Plains, and his wife's books, three of them, as they also give us one of the best views of the old west around. Custer knew all the big names and they came by often. In otherwords, I try to stick to those who knew him. Far better than the opinions of historians, I think.
Primary Sources are the best. Most good Historians research the Primary Source Material. That's where that Custer Apollo refers to the recordscand Primary Sources and its very good and easy to follow. Nice photography of the Battlefield and as I have never been there it was nice.
The Post War of Secession Army was so much different than the War Army and the Pre-War Army. I used to do LH on just that topic at Fort Verde SHP, AZ. I'm hoping to some more programs now that the Covid Hoax has been "unmasked". Patunk Tok Tssssss (rimshot) I will have to follow up on those works you suggest. Thanks alto.
 

damYankee

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
Ol' George A. is such an interesting person with his career. I dug around quite a bit looking for LBH info. The Natives did not share the good Sergeant's adoration apparently.
Custer Apollo on YouTube has a 32 segment walk through of General Custer's movements with the 7th Cavalry Battalion for that event and leading up to it. He's very knowledgable on the Battle and if you are not familiar with his presentation I highly recommend it. You may not agree with his conclusions but it's worth watching for in depth play by play action presented in an easy to mentally digest format. He really cleared up the sequence if events for me which I had previously never really wrapped my head around completely.
Being a Confederate I cant say I shed a tear for him or his Brother but I do respect the men fighting to the last with certain annihilation looming if nobody showed up to help them. Creeps me out when I think of those last survivors surrounded by hordes of hostiles and their dead and dying comrades and vainly looking for any sign of Benteen and the rest of the pack train they were counting on.
I think George's War of Secession years are much more upbeat to read about.
Just an FYI again and.....
Cheers!
This is one of my favorite books on the topic of THE LBH20210425_115129.jpg
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
This is one of my favorite books on the topic of THE LBHView attachment 398944
Graham is noted as being one of the least accurate and a man who despised Custer. Yes, I have it. My library contains books on all sides of Custer. But Graham's is particularly notorious.It is a well known book in Custerland, anyways.
@Leigh Cole Like you, I appreciate books on Custer. I'll have to try to get a hold of this one. Any further comments you would care to make regarding it, I would look forward to reading.

Thank, John
From Kidd:


GEORGE A. CUSTER (IN 1863)​





Looking at him closely, this is what I saw: An officer superbly mounted who sat his charger as if to the manor born. Tall, lithe, active, muscular, straight as an Indian and as quick in his movements, he had the fair complexion of a school girl. He was clad in a suit of black velvet, elaborately trimmed with gold lace, which ran down the outer seams of his trousers, and almost covered the sleeves of his cavalry jacket. The wide collar of a blue navy shirt was turned down over the collar of his velvet jacket, and a necktie of brilliant crimson was tied in a graceful knot at the throat, the long ends falling carelessly in front. The double rows of buttons on his breast were arranged in groups of twos, indicating the rank of brigadier general. A soft, black hat with wide brim adorned with a gilt cord, and rosette encircling a silver star, was worn turned down on one side giving him a rakish air. His golden hair fell in graceful luxuriance nearly or quite to his shoulders, and his upper lip was garnished with a blonde mustache. A sword and belt, gilt spurs and top boots completed his unique outfit.





A keen eye would have been slow to detect in that rider with the flowing locks and gaudy tie, in his dress of velvet and of gold, the master spirit that he proved to be. That garb, fantastic as at first sight it appeared to be, was to be the distinguishing mark which, during all the remaining years of that war, like the white plume of Henry of Navarre, was to show us where, in the thickest of the fight, we were to seek our leader—for, where danger was, where swords were to cross, where Greek met Greek, there was he, always. Brave but not reckless; self-confident, yet modest; ambitious, but regulating his conduct at all times by a high sense of honor and duty; eager for laurels, but scorning to wear them unworthily; ready and willing to act, but regardful of human life; quick in emergencies, cool and self-possessed, his courage was of the highest moral type, his perceptions were intuitions. Showy like Murat, fiery like Farnsworth, yet calm and self-reliant like Sheridan, he was the most brilliant and successful cavalry officer of his time. Such a man had appeared upon the scene, and soon we learned to utter with pride the name of—Custer.





George A. Custer was, as all agree, the most picturesque figure of the civil war. Yet his ability and services were never rightly judged by the American people. It is doubtful if more than one of his superior officers—if we except McClellan, who knew him only as a staff subaltern—estimated him at his true value. Sheridan knew Custer for what he was. So did the Michigan brigade and the Third cavalry division. But, except by these, he was regarded as a brave, dashing, but reckless officer who needed a guiding hand. Among regular army officers as a class he cannot be said to have been a favorite. The meteoric rapidity of his rise to the zenith of his fame and success, when so many of the youngsters of his years were moving in the comparative obscurity of their own orbits, irritated them. Stars of the first magnitude did not appear often in the galaxy of military heroes. Custer was one of the few.





The popular idea of Custer is a misconception. He was not a reckless commander. He was not regardless of human life. No man could have been more careful of the comfort and lives of his men. His heart was tender as that of a woman. He was kind to his subordinates, tolerant of their weaknesses, always ready to help and encourage them. He was brave as a lion, fought as few men fought, but it was from no love of it. Fighting was his business; and he knew that by that means alone could peace be conquered. He was brave, alert, untiring, a hero in battle, relentless in the pursuit of a beaten enemy, stubborn and full of resources on the retreat. His tragic death at the Little Big Horn crowned his career with a tragic interest that will not wane while history or tradition endure. Hundreds of brave men shed tears when they heard of it—men who had served under and learned to love him in the trying times of civil war.





I have always believed that some of the real facts of the battle of the Little Big Horn were unknown. Probably the true version of the massacre will remain a sealed book until the dead are called upon to give up their secrets, though there are those who profess to believe that one man at least is still living who knows the real story and that some day he will tell it.





Certain it is that Custer never would have rushed deliberately on destruction. If, for any reason, he had desired to end his own life, and that is inconceivable, he would not have involved his friends and those whose lives had been entrusted to his care in the final and terrible catastrophe. He was not a reckless commander or one who would plunge into battle with his eyes shut. He was cautious and wary, accustomed to reconnoiter carefully and measure the strength of an enemy as accurately as possible before attacking. More than once the Michigan brigade was saved from disaster by Custer's caution. This may seem to many a novel—to some an erroneous estimate of Custer's characteristics as a military man. But it is a true one. It is an opinion formed by one who had good opportunity to judge of him correctly. In one sense only is it a prejudiced view. It is the judgment of a friend and a loyal one; it is not that of an enemy or a rival. As such it is appreciative and it is just.​

Book quotation from "Riding with Custer" by Colonel J.H. Kidd, Michigan Cavalry Brigade
 

damYankee

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
Graham is noted as being one of the least accurate and a man who despised Custer. Yes, I have it. My library contains books on all sides of Custer. But Graham's is particularly notorious.It is a well known book in Custerland, anyways.

From Kidd:


GEORGE A. CUSTER (IN 1863)​





Looking at him closely, this is what I saw: An officer superbly mounted who sat his charger as if to the manor born. Tall, lithe, active, muscular, straight as an Indian and as quick in his movements, he had the fair complexion of a school girl. He was clad in a suit of black velvet, elaborately trimmed with gold lace, which ran down the outer seams of his trousers, and almost covered the sleeves of his cavalry jacket. The wide collar of a blue navy shirt was turned down over the collar of his velvet jacket, and a necktie of brilliant crimson was tied in a graceful knot at the throat, the long ends falling carelessly in front. The double rows of buttons on his breast were arranged in groups of twos, indicating the rank of brigadier general. A soft, black hat with wide brim adorned with a gilt cord, and rosette encircling a silver star, was worn turned down on one side giving him a rakish air. His golden hair fell in graceful luxuriance nearly or quite to his shoulders, and his upper lip was garnished with a blonde mustache. A sword and belt, gilt spurs and top boots completed his unique outfit.





A keen eye would have been slow to detect in that rider with the flowing locks and gaudy tie, in his dress of velvet and of gold, the master spirit that he proved to be. That garb, fantastic as at first sight it appeared to be, was to be the distinguishing mark which, during all the remaining years of that war, like the white plume of Henry of Navarre, was to show us where, in the thickest of the fight, we were to seek our leader—for, where danger was, where swords were to cross, where Greek met Greek, there was he, always. Brave but not reckless; self-confident, yet modest; ambitious, but regulating his conduct at all times by a high sense of honor and duty; eager for laurels, but scorning to wear them unworthily; ready and willing to act, but regardful of human life; quick in emergencies, cool and self-possessed, his courage was of the highest moral type, his perceptions were intuitions. Showy like Murat, fiery like Farnsworth, yet calm and self-reliant like Sheridan, he was the most brilliant and successful cavalry officer of his time. Such a man had appeared upon the scene, and soon we learned to utter with pride the name of—Custer.





George A. Custer was, as all agree, the most picturesque figure of the civil war. Yet his ability and services were never rightly judged by the American people. It is doubtful if more than one of his superior officers—if we except McClellan, who knew him only as a staff subaltern—estimated him at his true value. Sheridan knew Custer for what he was. So did the Michigan brigade and the Third cavalry division. But, except by these, he was regarded as a brave, dashing, but reckless officer who needed a guiding hand. Among regular army officers as a class he cannot be said to have been a favorite. The meteoric rapidity of his rise to the zenith of his fame and success, when so many of the youngsters of his years were moving in the comparative obscurity of their own orbits, irritated them. Stars of the first magnitude did not appear often in the galaxy of military heroes. Custer was one of the few.





The popular idea of Custer is a misconception. He was not a reckless commander. He was not regardless of human life. No man could have been more careful of the comfort and lives of his men. His heart was tender as that of a woman. He was kind to his subordinates, tolerant of their weaknesses, always ready to help and encourage them. He was brave as a lion, fought as few men fought, but it was from no love of it. Fighting was his business; and he knew that by that means alone could peace be conquered. He was brave, alert, untiring, a hero in battle, relentless in the pursuit of a beaten enemy, stubborn and full of resources on the retreat. His tragic death at the Little Big Horn crowned his career with a tragic interest that will not wane while history or tradition endure. Hundreds of brave men shed tears when they heard of it—men who had served under and learned to love him in the trying times of civil war.





I have always believed that some of the real facts of the battle of the Little Big Horn were unknown. Probably the true version of the massacre will remain a sealed book until the dead are called upon to give up their secrets, though there are those who profess to believe that one man at least is still living who knows the real story and that some day he will tell it.





Certain it is that Custer never would have rushed deliberately on destruction. If, for any reason, he had desired to end his own life, and that is inconceivable, he would not have involved his friends and those whose lives had been entrusted to his care in the final and terrible catastrophe. He was not a reckless commander or one who would plunge into battle with his eyes shut. He was cautious and wary, accustomed to reconnoiter carefully and measure the strength of an enemy as accurately as possible before attacking. More than once the Michigan brigade was saved from disaster by Custer's caution. This may seem to many a novel—to some an erroneous estimate of Custer's characteristics as a military man. But it is a true one. It is an opinion formed by one who had good opportunity to judge of him correctly. In one sense only is it a prejudiced view. It is the judgment of a friend and a loyal one; it is not that of an enemy or a rival. As such it is appreciative and it is just.​

Book quotation from "Riding with Custer" by Colonel J.H. Kidd, Michigan Cavalry Brigade
I haven't read all of this book, he seems to print what serves him.
 
Last edited:

damYankee

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
Graham is noted as being one of the least accurate and a man who despised Custer. Yes, I have it. My library contains books on all sides of Custer. But Graham's is particularly notorious.It is a well known book in Custerland, anyways.

From Kidd:


GEORGE A. CUSTER (IN 1863)​





Looking at him closely, this is what I saw: An officer superbly mounted who sat his charger as if to the manor born. Tall, lithe, active, muscular, straight as an Indian and as quick in his movements, he had the fair complexion of a school girl. He was clad in a suit of black velvet, elaborately trimmed with gold lace, which ran down the outer seams of his trousers, and almost covered the sleeves of his cavalry jacket. The wide collar of a blue navy shirt was turned down over the collar of his velvet jacket, and a necktie of brilliant crimson was tied in a graceful knot at the throat, the long ends falling carelessly in front. The double rows of buttons on his breast were arranged in groups of twos, indicating the rank of brigadier general. A soft, black hat with wide brim adorned with a gilt cord, and rosette encircling a silver star, was worn turned down on one side giving him a rakish air. His golden hair fell in graceful luxuriance nearly or quite to his shoulders, and his upper lip was garnished with a blonde mustache. A sword and belt, gilt spurs and top boots completed his unique outfit.





A keen eye would have been slow to detect in that rider with the flowing locks and gaudy tie, in his dress of velvet and of gold, the master spirit that he proved to be. That garb, fantastic as at first sight it appeared to be, was to be the distinguishing mark which, during all the remaining years of that war, like the white plume of Henry of Navarre, was to show us where, in the thickest of the fight, we were to seek our leader—for, where danger was, where swords were to cross, where Greek met Greek, there was he, always. Brave but not reckless; self-confident, yet modest; ambitious, but regulating his conduct at all times by a high sense of honor and duty; eager for laurels, but scorning to wear them unworthily; ready and willing to act, but regardful of human life; quick in emergencies, cool and self-possessed, his courage was of the highest moral type, his perceptions were intuitions. Showy like Murat, fiery like Farnsworth, yet calm and self-reliant like Sheridan, he was the most brilliant and successful cavalry officer of his time. Such a man had appeared upon the scene, and soon we learned to utter with pride the name of—Custer.





George A. Custer was, as all agree, the most picturesque figure of the civil war. Yet his ability and services were never rightly judged by the American people. It is doubtful if more than one of his superior officers—if we except McClellan, who knew him only as a staff subaltern—estimated him at his true value. Sheridan knew Custer for what he was. So did the Michigan brigade and the Third cavalry division. But, except by these, he was regarded as a brave, dashing, but reckless officer who needed a guiding hand. Among regular army officers as a class he cannot be said to have been a favorite. The meteoric rapidity of his rise to the zenith of his fame and success, when so many of the youngsters of his years were moving in the comparative obscurity of their own orbits, irritated them. Stars of the first magnitude did not appear often in the galaxy of military heroes. Custer was one of the few.





The popular idea of Custer is a misconception. He was not a reckless commander. He was not regardless of human life. No man could have been more careful of the comfort and lives of his men. His heart was tender as that of a woman. He was kind to his subordinates, tolerant of their weaknesses, always ready to help and encourage them. He was brave as a lion, fought as few men fought, but it was from no love of it. Fighting was his business; and he knew that by that means alone could peace be conquered. He was brave, alert, untiring, a hero in battle, relentless in the pursuit of a beaten enemy, stubborn and full of resources on the retreat. His tragic death at the Little Big Horn crowned his career with a tragic interest that will not wane while history or tradition endure. Hundreds of brave men shed tears when they heard of it—men who had served under and learned to love him in the trying times of civil war.





I have always believed that some of the real facts of the battle of the Little Big Horn were unknown. Probably the true version of the massacre will remain a sealed book until the dead are called upon to give up their secrets, though there are those who profess to believe that one man at least is still living who knows the real story and that some day he will tell it.





Certain it is that Custer never would have rushed deliberately on destruction. If, for any reason, he had desired to end his own life, and that is inconceivable, he would not have involved his friends and those whose lives had been entrusted to his care in the final and terrible catastrophe. He was not a reckless commander or one who would plunge into battle with his eyes shut. He was cautious and wary, accustomed to reconnoiter carefully and measure the strength of an enemy as accurately as possible before attacking. More than once the Michigan brigade was saved from disaster by Custer's caution. This may seem to many a novel—to some an erroneous estimate of Custer's characteristics as a military man. But it is a true one. It is an opinion formed by one who had good opportunity to judge of him correctly. In one sense only is it a prejudiced view. It is the judgment of a friend and a loyal one; it is not that of an enemy or a rival. As such it is appreciative and it is just.​

Book quotation from "Riding with Custer" by Colonel J.H. Kidd, Michigan Cavalry Brigade
I picked it up at a yard sale, so far it's been a great sleep aid. Hence my preference, in one year I've made it through chapter 2, Graham' s preface to the book is difficult to read, but of his other books I've read, this one has little of his opining and when he does interject, I'm already asleep.
I much prefer James Donovan's Custer a Terrible Glory,
 
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