Featured What is the deal with George Armstrong Custer?

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
There is a small hamlet near the battlefield called Garyowen. Don't know if it's big enough to have a post office.

And isn't it spelled Gerryowen?

Origanally it was known as Garryowen Post Office because that's ALL that there was there! Back in the 70's when I visited, it had "grown" to include a KOA where we camped, a laundromat, and a convenience store.
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
That was made into a pretty good Disney movie called Tonka. Sal Mineo played White Bull and Britt Lomond was Custer - he became well known to 50s kids as the captain in Zorro. Not a bad Custer, though!

britt2sm.jpg

I disagree, Diane - Tonka was the same old Custer-bashing **** like so much else in the postwar 1950's and 60's. General Custer ( still wearing the insignia of a major general, not a lt. colonel ) was the usual Indian-hating psycho who got what he had coming, little different from the one in J. Carroll Nash's Sitting Bull or the even worse Little Big Man. And of course, the battle and battlefield looked nothing like the historical battle - though it bore a striking resemblance to the foolishness of Errol Flynn's They Died With Their Boots On, and to a lesser degree the awful Robert Shaw's Cinerama Custer of the West.
 
Last edited:

Allie

Captain
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
I disagree, Diane - Tonka was the same old Custer-bashing **** like so much else in the postwar 1950's and 60's. General Custer ( still wearing the insignia of a major general, not a lt. colonel ) was the usual Indian-hating psycho who got what he had coming, little different from the one in J. Carroll Naish's Sitting Bull or the even worse Little Big Man. And of course, the battle and battlefield looked nothing like the historical battle - though it bore a striking resemblance to the foolishness of Errol Flynn's They Died With Their Boots On, and to a lesser degree the awful Robert Shaw's Cinerama Custer of the West.
I'm not sure you're entering into the spirit of Disney movies. :wink:

And on that note, this guy was the villain my dolls fought when I was a child. Made by Marx, which also made Johnny West and the Best of the West figures. This one I think is a recast but it was a nice photo. Not a bad likeness for cheap plastic, and it says something about the impact Custer had on the American imagination that children were playing with him in 1975:

image.jpg
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
He was IMO was a pompus donkey out to kill Native American men, women and children after the ACW on his road to making a name for himself as Grant and looking at running for president. Didn't work out so well in the end. Talk to some of the Souix and Cheyenne whose ancestors were living during his raids.

This is of course the same old bosh and moonshine propagated by muck-raking journalist ( NOT an historian! ) Frederick Van DeWater, author of probably the first Custer-bashing "biography" titled Glory Hunter. This book appeared in the 1930's about a year following the death of Elizabeth Bacon Custer, widow of the General and faithful protector of his image. The Depression was in full swing, and it was suddenly "fashionable" to deride any and everything that had once been held sacred by a perhaps too-gullible American public. This was the same time we "discovered" George Washington's alleged infidelities, illegitimate slave offspring, wooden teeth, etc., etc. ad nauseum. Prior to Van DeWater, and largely thanks to Libby Custer, George had been regarded by the public as a Hero, reflected in the portrayal in Errol Flynn's 1941 They Died With Their Boots On; after WWII it again became the fashion to belittle American heroes, a possible reflection of and reaction to the postwar McCarthy Era.

If you bother to actually read some of Custer's own writings like in his My Life On the Plains ( called by his critics My Lie On the Plains ) you will see his sympathy for the Plains Indians, whose example he says if the situation was reversed, he would follow. The old canard about him wanting to be President has been exploded in more thoughtful books like Utley's biography and the aforementioned A Terrible Glory.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
Cash, you have captured the controversy of the man even in his own lifetime.

I'm not so sure Reno would have made a difference given the time it took to defeat Custer and the distance between the Reno-Benteen Battlefield and the Custer Battlefield. Once reinforced by Benteen and perhaps by MacDougal and the slow pack train, I think Reno would have shown up in time to be defeated himself. There were just too many Sioux and Cheyenne.

I think the Army tried to nail Reno for the defeat, but did not make the case.

They couldn't because Reno and Benteen committed perjury.

Custer's plan at the Little Big Horn depended on Reno keeping the warriors busy at the front door while Custer took his detachment around to the back door. Reno panicked and ran away, freeing the warriors to go after Custer.
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I disagree, Diane - Tonka was the same old Custer-bashing **** like so much else in the postwar 1950's and 60's. General Custer ( still wearing the insignia of a major general, not a lt. colonel ) was the usual Indian-hating psycho who got what he had coming, little different from the one in J. Carroll Naish's Sitting Bull or the even worse Little Big Man. And of course, the battle and battlefield looked nothing like the historical battle - though it bore a striking resemblance to the foolishness of Errol Flynn's They Died With Their Boots On, and to a lesser degree the awful Robert Shaw's Cinerama Custer of the West.

It was more sympathetic of Indians and you kind of had to know about racism in the 50s to understand why that significantly countered the Custer-bashing...and was a tad hypocritical. Termination was the big item in the 50s - you don't exist so we don't have to honor any treaties now or leave your land alone. Again, Indians can't beat a white man unless he's a dolt - so Custer-bashing was mandatory. That probably wasn't intended, but that's how it came out. And, Sal Mineo? That's as bad as Errol Flynn!

Custer and Sheridan both had sympathy for the Plains people but that didn't - and couldn't - keep them from what they were supposed to do. The Washita was Sheridan's baby, Custer just executed the orders. Sheridan campaigned in winter, when the people were most vulnerable - and I don't mean warriors - and advocated taking elderly, women and children as hostages. Custer did that at the Washita, too. Sheridan, sometime after the US-Dakota and Plains wars, said the Indians were only doing the same thing white men would do in their position - protect their families. Crook, too, had sympathy with the Indians, so did O O Howard. That's why Indians respected them, for the most part. Particularly Crook.
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
I'm not sure you're entering into the spirit of Disney movies. :wink:

And on that note, this guy was the villain my dolls fought when I was a child. Made by Marx, which also made Johnny West and the Best of the West figures. This one I think is a recast but it was a nice photo. Not a bad likeness for cheap plastic, and it says something about the impact Custer had on the American imagination that children were playing with him in 1975:

View attachment 61968

The Marx Custer ( notice it looks nothing like GAC ) is a relic of the very short-lived ( and deservedly so! ) TV series The Legend of Custer starring an actor named Wayne Maunder. ( It doesn't look much like him either. ) Marx didn't want to pay any royalty to the TV network, so the show's name never appeared on the box. Everything except the "Custer" headsculpt was the same as a previous figure in their Johnny West ( a cowboy ) series, the cavalry officer Captain Maddox. Johnny West, Capt. Maddox and Custer were intended to be the "good" guys, opposite the outlaw Sam Cobra and Apache Chief Geronimo.

Edit: The Legend of Custer was a travesty omitting Libby, his brothers, and nearly everything historical ( note that the word Legend was very deliberately a part of the title to deflect exactly this sort of criticism ), casting the story as a morality play with George and Crazy Horse as respectful opponents. One other "historical" character that was included was the scout and muleskinner California Joe, played by Slim Pickens who acted as a sort of sidekick and Greek Chorus to Maunder's stoic Custer.
 
Last edited:

Allie

Captain
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
The Marx Custer ( notice it looks nothing like GAC! ) is a relic of the very short-lived ( and deservedly so! ) TV series The Legend of Custer starring an actor named Wayne Maunder. ( It doesn't look much like him either. ) Marx didn't want to pay any royalty to the TV network, so the show's name never appeared on the box. Everything except the "Custer" headsculpt was the same as a previous figure in their Johnny West ( a cowboy ) series, the cavalry officer Captain Maddox. Johnny West, Capt. Maddox and Custer were intended to be the "good" guys, opposite the outlaw Sam Cobra and Apache Chief Geronimo.

Edit: The Legend of Custer was a travesty omitting Libby, his brothers, and nearly everything historical ( note that the word Legend was very deliberately a part of the title to deflect this sort of criticism ), casting the story as a morality play with George and Crazy Horse as respectful opponents. One other "historical" character that was included was the scout and muleskinner California Joe, played by Slim Pickens who acted as a sort of sidekick and Greek Chorus to Maunder's stoic Custer.
I think we have different opinions on what constitutes a travesty. I loved Hercules and Xena without expecting accurate portrays of either Mediterranean history or Greek mythology.
 

Jersey Blue

Private
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Location
Sweetwater NJ
Wow...didn't know the door was open to defecate upon an iconic man.
Eric Wittenburg above does him his due justice.
It seems to me the last 40 years of public schooling has turned the tide on Custer.
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
Wow...didn't know the door was open to defecate upon an iconic man.
Eric Wittenburg above does him his due justice.
It seems to me the last 40 years of public schooling has turned the tide on Custer.

Most of the defecation has been in the name of Political Correctness, or to quote the title of Vine Deloria's book, Custer Died For Your Sins by making him the "whipping boy" and scapegoat for not only the Little Bighorn, but the Indian Wars as well.
 

Specster

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Location
Mass.
Most of the defecation has been in the name of Political Correctness, or to quote the title of Vine Deloria's book, Custer Died For Your Sins by making him the "whipping boy" and scapegoat for not only the Little Bighorn, but the Indian Wars as well.

I know I am being redundant, to an extent, but without Custers heroics on day 3 in Gettysburg, the war may have been extended significantly, or the entire outcome may have been wildely different. For that alone, he deserves accolades, in my estimation.

There is not entire agreement upon his actions at LBH. Many scholars believe he was not attacking the woman and children, but rather using them as hostiages to get out of the "S_____".

Before and after the ACW, while the country was experiencing explosive growth and the creation of wealth, it was the few men like Custer, who could have punched his card and made $$$, instead kept the watch.
 

Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
I know I am being redundant, to an extent, but without Custers heroics on day 3 in Gettysburg, the war may have been extended significantly, or the entire outcome may have been wildely different.

What heroics?

David Gregg ordered both charges. On both instances, he usurped Custer and ordered them directly. Custer just went along for the ride.

I see you buy into the Carhart theory. What a shame. It makes for great science fiction, but there is no semblance of anything resembling what ACTUALLY happened in that festering, steaming pile.
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
Before and after the ACW, while the country was experiencing explosive growth and the creation of wealth, it was the few men like Custer, who could have punched his card and made $$$, instead kept the watch.

Not quite. The most eye-opening aspect of Robert Utley's ( former NPS Historian at LBH Nat'l. Mon. and I believe later Chief Historian of the entire NPS and Custer specialist ) biography of Custer was the inordinate amount of time he spent away from the frontier in such remote backwoods places like New York City! He and Libby often spent the winters there in ( if I remember right ) the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in a rented room or suite, unfortunately living well above their means on the peacetime pay of a lieutenant colonel. Much of his time was spent at the theater attending the plays of a good friend who was a noted Shakespearean actor of the day; meanwhile, he investigated various ploys to get out of the army by involving himself in business but was never able to find a position that paid enough to satisfy him. That's the main reason the very idea of him lusting after the Presidency is so ridiculous - he simply lacked the real clout and connections necessary to enter politics on anything like parity with all the Gilded Age high-rollers and Robber Barons. Unfortunately for him personally ( though obviously not for his legacy ) he decided not to decide and remained where he was socially.
 
Last edited:

rosefiend

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Location
Confusion, Missouri
Custer
Johnny Cash
Now I will tell you buster that I ain't a fan of Custer
And the General he don't ride well anymore
To some he was a hero but to me his score was zero
And the General he don't ride well anymore
Now Custer done his fightin' without too much excitin'
And the General he don't ride well anymore
General Custer come in pumpin' when the men were out a huntin'
But the General he don't ride well anymore
With victories he was swimmin' he killed children dogs and women
But the General he don't ride well anymore
Crazy Horse sent out the call just to Sitting Bull and Gall
And the General he don't ride well anymore
Now Custer split his men well he won't do that again
Cause the General he don't ride well anymore
Twelve thousand warriors waited they were unanticipated
And the General he don't ride well anymore
It's not called an Indian victory but a bloody massacre
And the General he don't ride well anymore
There might have been more enthusin' if us Indians had been losin'
But the General he don't ride well anymore
General George A.Custer oh his yellow hair had lustre
But the General he don't ride well anymore
For now the General's silent he got bombarded violent
And the General he don't ride well anymore
Oh the General he don't ride well anymore
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
:giggle: I'd like to know of other Union dandyism--funny, Allie! But, really-I'd be interested.

Check out French-born Union Colonel Alfred Duffie; Englishman Col. Sir Percy Wyndham; American Generals Phil Kearney and Hugh Judson Kilpatrick are pretty dashing too.


Expired Image Removed

Above and below, Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, 1st N. J. Cavalry

Expired Image Removed

Duffie_zps4258a7cc.jpg

Above and below, Col. Alfred Duffie

duffie_a_n.jpg

Below, Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick

kilpatrick.jpg

kear+0+pk.jpg

Above and below, Maj. Gen. Phillip Kearny

Expired Image Removed
 
Top