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"Custer Saved the Nation" Topic

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19th Century

843 hits since 18 May 2018
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2018 2:24 p.m. PST

"He is the man everybody loves to hate. George Armstrong Custer, once one of the most admired American military heroes, has become, in our time, one of the most hated figures from our past. He is now, at best, a national joke ("Custer wore arrow shirts!") and the poster boy for American arrogance, blundering military stupidity and genocidal cruelty toward all Indians.

There is little doubt that Custer's arrogance contributed to the final battle that came to define his historical image, but that same arrogance made him one of the most successful soldiers of his era. It is important to view the entire heroic trajectory of his life. Only then can we understand how this young soldier may very well have saved our nation…."
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Allen5719 May 2018 6:15 p.m. PST

I suppose the title of the article is meant to call attention to Custer at Gettysburg and argue he saved the nation by keeping Stuart off the rear of the Union line at the time of Pickett's charge thus defeating the Confederates. OK. But it is very speculative to say what Stuart would or could have done or that Custer's action saved the battle and thus the nation. Rather poor article.

Cacique Caribe Inactive Member20 May 2018 3:11 a.m. PST

He was a complicated man, but it seems most writers sound like they already made up their minds who and what he was.

Some even sound giddy when they come to his end, as if to say "he came, he saw, he died. (Cackle, cackle, cackle)"


Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 May 2018 5:00 a.m. PST

A very poor article.
" One of the most successful soldiers of his era" is laughable hyperbole.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 6:40 a.m. PST

Actually, a more even-handed article than what you are used to seeing from modern writers. And when you consider his entire career he was "One of the most successful soldiers of his era". However, to do so the modern reader must put asied their sjw indoctrination and view him in his own time.

Cacique Caribe Inactive Member20 May 2018 6:54 a.m. PST

Stone Mountain: "view him in his own time"

That should help but it doesn't. They view the evil their own heroes did in their own time as completely justifiable. Actually beyond that … blameless. And I mean, as if it never happened. The end justifies the means, right? That explains their t-shirt sales. :)


oldjarhead20 May 2018 7:46 a.m. PST

As regimental officer, I feel he was very poor: divisive, played favorites etc. Still just my opinion

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 9:17 a.m. PST

And that was pointed out in the body of the article, so as I said a very evenhanded presentation.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 May 2018 12:12 p.m. PST

Clearly and comprehensively out fought by his native opponents, I'm not sure how his reputation, as such, can survive.

SJW? Where did that come from?
Is he some sort of icon for arch- conservatives or have I missed something? I' m merely judging him from a military viewpoint. As CC said, " he came, he died." The trouble at Little Big Horn is he didn't bother to " see".

goragrad20 May 2018 9:55 p.m. PST

The article is somewhat lacking, but is correct in that Custer was indeed an accomplished officer.

There are quite a few conflicting analyses of the Little Big Horn painting quite different pictures of how Custer performed. One of the most recent that I have seen points out the similarities to the situation at the Washita that ended in a victory.

P.S Considering the performance of the Iron Brigade on the first day of Gettysburg and the fact that Custer's commanded the Michigan Brigade, perhaps the title should have been Michigan Saved the Union…

P.P.S Have no idea where that comment of 'conservative icon' originates. Making an assessment of Custer based on his entire career and an objective look as his conduct at Little Bighorn should have nothing to do with politics.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member21 May 2018 4:34 a.m. PST

Couldn't agree more with your final paragraph, goagrad. I have no idea where that initial comment about "SJW" came from either. Best to keep politics out of this.

I'm not happy that the Washita could be regarded as much more than an unexpected attack against a peaceful camp. Lots of dead 7 th Cavalrymen seem to confirm Custer expected a similarly easy victory at the LBH and that his leadership was sloppy.

John Leahy21 May 2018 3:42 p.m. PST

Something to keep in mind was that the US Army was not worried about the Indians staying to fight. That was not the norm in fighting the warriors on the plains. They would always break camp and run. The campaign was based on three converging columns to prevent them from doing so. Custer was worried about them scattering. He just got out the the frying pan due to his testimony in Washington and almost missed the campaign leaving Reno in command.

Failure at the LBH was not an option for him. He had to achieve a great victory (or at least be part of one) to regain his previous status. I would not have liked serving under Custer, In the civil War his men revered him. Later he was not serving with motivated volunteers. Many of his men at a minimum disliked him. Some hated him. The Custer clan was surely not a favorite with the regular trooper due to Custer's do as I say and not as I do command style.

Custer's division of troops made sense for the battle he expected to fight. Distract the natives, sweep wide to stop them running and he would sweep in and grab the women, children and old folks as hostages. Capture and kill the Pony herd. Victory. Looking at his progress and as suggested by several scholars as well as my own reading I do believe he was trying to get around the camp to do this. The camp was too big and he failed.

I also believe that Custer's column commanders failed him. Reno lost his nerve. Benteen failed to come as ordered. A close examination of the timeline shows had Benteen not dawdled he could have reached some part of Custer's command. The disposition of Custer's command up till near the end shows that Custer was trying to keep the approach for Benteen open.

Custer was no fool or dunce as sometimes suggested. He was forced into a battle that eh wanted to delay until later as his command was worn out. This is also one of the very few Indian battles where they did stay and fight in numbers rarely ever seen elsewhere on the plains. Add in Crook's complete failure to inform the rest of the column about the Rosebud battle and you have circumstances which added to his chance of failure.

Thanks. The LBH and the Plain's Wars are one of my favorite periods.

goragrad21 May 2018 10:34 p.m. PST

Good points John – at least they agree with the latest analysis I had read.

It was a magazine article and I didn't have it handy so didn't attempt to restate it.

As to the Washita, a prime feature of the Indian Wars was that attacks were constantly made on unsuspecting 'opponents.' Be they a family of settlers or (often in retaliation) a 'peaceful' village.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 May 2018 12:28 p.m. PST

A lucid argument, John. Thank you.
I would argue that a successful general plans for the unexpected so, ipso facto, Custer was a dilettente.
And it hardly encourages me to see him in a positive light if he was widely despised by his own troops despite their caliber.

The Duke, leading " scum" in the Peninsula, was venerated after all.

Washita was a war crime. You are prevaricating if you see it as anything else.

gamershs Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2018 12:35 p.m. PST

He was selected and trained in the Civil War to be aggressive to counter the success of the southern cavalry officers. That he was aggressive at Little Big Horn would be expected. But LBH was going to be different.

He turned down heavy weapons (two Gatling guns and two howitzers) as it would slow him down. The Indians he normally faced would use ambushes and would run from a set piece battle. His problem was that having fought against the Indian he didn't understand that for this battle the Indians had changed. Normally the Indian would hit and run away. For this battle they had numbers and would hit and stay.

catavar24 May 2018 9:08 a.m. PST

I believe John hit the nail on the head.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2018 11:30 a.m. PST

John + 3


jeeves11 Jun 2018 12:57 p.m. PST

Too bad the U.S. didn't die with him.

jeeves11 Jun 2018 12:58 p.m. PST

And colonialism isn't a part of politics? What?

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