Featured What is the deal with George Armstrong Custer?

James N.

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I always enjoy the Custer thread(s) when they come up periodically. A real wealth of information from folks like JamesN, Dave Wilma, diane, and more I am surely forgetting.

One story that relates to his possible little Custer papoose, is that Custer's body was supposedly not mutilated because of this baby and Custer's 'relationship' with the Native American woman. But, as with many things concerning Custer, there is controversy with this too. At least one source I have read, maybe Phibrick, said that Custer's body was actually mutilated but the reports were changed to protect or spare Libby those details.

As I depart today to get ready for tonight's Sweet 16, I'll ask the thought provoking question "what happened to Custer's body?":bye:


Thanks for the vote of confidence! This subject has been discussed pretty fully before, but basically, what was left after a year that was thought to have been ( or been parts of! ) GAC were removed from the battlefield and now rest beneath the large monument ( it was originally the base for a statue of him greatly disliked by his wife Libby ) in the Old Chapel Cemetery at West Point near Winfield Scott, John Buford, and other prominent generals. The slab in the foreground belongs to Libby who didn't join him until the 1930's.

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rhettbutler1865

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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.


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

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Above and below, Col. Alfred Duffie

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Below, Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick

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Above and below, Maj. Gen. Phillip Kearny

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Oh, how I wish I had the Colonel Duffie photo!! I'd put it in the bedroom--"they" say, you should go to bed with a smile!:bounce:
 

Specster

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Mike, Custer was a BREVET major general only. He did not receive a promotion to full major general of volunteers. While he was also brevetted major general in the Regular Army, he reverted to his permanent rank, first lieutenant, at the end of the war. He was then commissioned LTC of the newly-formed 7th Cavalry a number of months later.

Hence your statement is not correct.

I may be wrong on this but, as far as I know, Brevet rank is imparted by those superior who are witnessing your actions. As a result they are based solely on merit and not upon political connections or other similar considerations. As far as I understand it, being promoted by fighting officers in the field, as opposed to politicians, is much more meaningful, especially to the man being promoted.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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I may be wrong on this but, as far as I know, Brevet rank is imparted by those superior who are witnessing your actions. As a result they are based solely on merit and not upon political connections or other similar considerations. As far as I understand it, being promoted by fighting officers in the field, as opposed to politicians, is much more meaningful, especially to the man being promoted.

Brevets were a means of recognizing someone's service without actually giving them a promotion. They could be terribly political--hundreds of them were handed out at the end of the war. But many were not. They were basically honorifics.
 

Specster

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A friend who used to reenact said he held the brevet rank of private. I always liked the sound of that.

If I am reading you right you are saying that is more a badge of dishonor rather than honor. I think that is rediculous, on its face. I think your peers, in the midst of battle, see you perform bravely and promote you, even in theory and w/o additional pay, I think this is one of the greater accolades which can be heaped on a military man.

If I am missing something here please educate me.
 

Specster

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Brevets were a means of recognizing someone's service without actually giving them a promotion. They could be terribly political--hundreds of them were handed out at the end of the war. But many were not. They were basically honorifics.

I understand that many were handed out near the end of the war. What about the others which were handed out for merit early in the war?
 

Specster

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Trust me. A Brevet Brigadier General earns no more than a Cadet.

Now back to Custer. He was undoubtedly very brave, allbeit with more than a schmear of bravado. But he did his job and did it well. His job at LBH was to locate the tribes and hold them in place until Crook arrived. For various reasons, the bravado failed to carry the day. Oooooops!

Ole,

I know, without a doubt, you are one of the more informed people on this site and beyond, on the ACW, but dont you think, after years of service, for Custer to have a lapse in judgement, even tho I think that is argueable, that to say he screwed up on this day at LBH, is baically Monday Morning Quaterbacking? Sure, others could have done better, but how many actually would have done better?

He was human...
 

Old Bay

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If I am reading you right you are saying that is more a badge of dishonor rather than honor. I think that is rediculous, on its face. I think your peers, in the midst of battle, see you perform bravely and promote you, even in theory and w/o additional pay, I think this is one of the greater accolades which can be heaped on a military man.

If I am missing something here please educate me.

It's a joke about how he was so lowly that he got brevetted up to the rank of private.
 

diane

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Yeah, Nate - just where did you hear that? ( Not that I haven't, but nothing very definite or convincing. ) One unlikely bit of gossip had Custer "taking up" with a "comely" squaw captive in the aftermath of the Washita battle, one Prairie Flower who was supposedly related to Black Kettle. She also supposedly bore "the fruit of their loins" in the form of a blond papoose, whose sex and name I now forget if it was even bothered with. This also sounds like so much hogwash, though there could be some truth that Custer did such a thing - Brother Lt. Tom Custer, that is. Tom was single and a known tippler and attempted ladies' man, despite his bravery winning two Medals of Honor during the war.

I don't know about any other women but the Cheyenne one is not so. Custer had enemies and some of them apparently spread this rumor. In fact, some gossip of infidelity was from a guy who had trouble watching his mouth anyway - Kilpatrick. Not surprisingly, he and Custer didn't care much for each other. It's quite possible he was faithful to Libbie and got mixed up with his brother but I don't know.
 

cash

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Native American oral histories allege Custer had a son named Yellow Swallow with a Cheyenne woman named Meotzi.

A number of historians have written that Custer was probably sterile due to an STD he contracted while a West Point cadet.

We'll likely never know for sure.
 

diane

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Native American oral histories allege Custer had a son named Yellow Swallow with a Cheyenne woman named Meotzi.

A number of historians have written that Custer was probably sterile due to an STD he contracted while a West Point cadet.

We'll likely never know for sure.

I'm still not convinced about the Cheyenne. You know, the stories come much later and after anyone involved first hand was long dead. I know oral histories are very often accurate, and very often all there is - they can't be discounted. However...I have my problems with items coming from Indian Country! They are strongly political and have a distinct anti-white bias. Their version strongly implies kidnapping and rape - don't think Custer was that low! I'd like to see more research done and, anyway, they say there are blond descendants of Custer's kids - maybe one day they'll give a bit of DNA and we can see... Oh, wait, that wouldn't do, would it... I mean Sally Hemmings and Tom, after all, it could be a brother... :rolleyes: Actually, I wouldn't doubt Custer had an Indian girl friend somewhere along the line. Many men thought it was cheating only if the other woman was white. Sheridan had a whole slue of Indian women when he was out here and even invited his favorite back to Washington to visit - guess his wife was ok with that. :cautious:
 

Specster

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They greatly diluted the once that were handed out for merit early in the war.

Every time I have read of Brevet promotion being given in the Mexican war or in the American Civil War up to and thru 1864, in a books written by historians, it was conveyed by the authors that this was an honor.

The officers who were brevited for reasons other than galantry and couragous actions, recent West Point graduates in 1861 were brevited 2nd Lt. because there were not enough vacancies in the regular army to give them their commissions. Some officers were brevited so they could fill staff positions. So they were given out with good frequency and not always for merit.

At the end of the day I dont think that makes them meaningless.

Yet it is eye opening. The Union had their heads up their butts most of the war. Between placing people in high military positions for political purposes and the infighting between union generals based in many instances, on party politics......Little Mac not going to Popes aid when he was overwhelmed by Jackson, Lee and Longstreet. It is no wonder that so many men died and the war lingered on for so long. The Confederates did not even have a brevit rank. Maybe that was a good idea.
 

theoldman

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It is my understanding that the 'brevet' rank was intended by the Army to temporarily fill needs in an expanding Army , usually during war or crisis situations. As time went on, especially in the ACW, the practice of 'brevetting' an officer was abused. Even so, during the war, the 'brevet' rank was treated as an official rank with all the powers and authority that come with the actual rank the officer was 'brevetted ' to. Custer was a 'brevet' BG and he acted with the full authority and power of a BG.
 
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... Custer was a 'brevet' BG and he acted with the full authority and power of a BG.

Actually not. Custer was a real Brigadier (of Volunteers) and thus acted with the full authority. He later became a brevet BG of the Regulars, but that didn´t make a difference as he still was a BG of Volunteers. After the war ended his volunteer commission ended when he was mustered out, and so did the Brigadier's authority.
 
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