Custer could read a battleground. His tactics at the LBH were forged by the Indian wars. Native Americans were raiders and would strike by surprise and then disperse. As Gary Roberts points out, what... more
I'm no expert on Custer's Civil War career, so most of my response will be based on T. J. Stiles' Pulitzer Prize winning biography, CUSTER'S TRIALS (2015). The criticism of Custer focuses primarily on... more
Generals Sheridan and Hampton mirrored each other's plan. Sheridan sent troops on the diversionary assault on the railway, and Hampton realizes this. While Sheridan moves first, Hampton is able to tak... more
Stiles says that it is ironic that Custer is criticized most for the thing he did best. Other aspects of his life--and ambitions--were a mess, and your point about his meteoric rise robbing him of gro... more
I regret giving my copy of the Stiles away. It gave, I think, a more complete picture of the man. He was actually something of a crackpot. Your interpretation of how he approached the village at LBH ... more
It’s very ironic and accurate how Custer had contempt for the men under his command whom deserted or went AWOL. Custer would send his best scouts to track down, capture and return these “disgusting” s... more
Custer was certainly a mixed bag. The Stile biography is revelatory as it focuses on the non-glorious aspects of the boy general's life, which included awol, get rich schemes, pandering to the affluen... more
Custer won a lot of battles while personally not catching a Rebel bullet.
However a great commander is also evaluated on winning battles while minimizing casualties ( deaths + injuries knocking sol... more
When it comes to casualties, it's unlikely that Custer had the most. Both sides produced heavy casualties. In terms of leadership and sound judgement on the battlefield, there were worse generals than... more
When you say Custer's "troops liked him" I assume you're referring to the troops whom were not dead or otherwise knocked out of action?
and I assume you were not referring Custer's troops whom we... more
I was referring to the Wolverines. They knew the boy general who, despite his grades and demerits, had sound tactical judgement and who personally led him into battle.
Custer was guilty of the afor... more
After the battles of the third day at Gettysburg the enlisted men of the Michigan Brigade took to wearing red scarves of of endearment for their commander and so that he would be so easily identified ... more
Considering the hundreds of books on Custer and the Little Big Horn, the movies, the revisionist histories, and the millions of opinions, the irony is that he really had little effect, if any, on hist... more
My very first history project per Custer in 1973 was not directly focused on the LBH. My project was researching why 11 years post op Civil War why Custer only had a permanent rank of Lieutenant Colon... more
History is not governed by a specific course, it does not obey academic rules. It is an entity unto itself, independent from consensus, or fashion. The only historical moments people agree upon are pe... more
Evidence based research is the mechanism which defines history. It is not defined by one's opinion nor is it defined by philosophy.
Yes Custer was correctly defined by Styles with the good and the ... more
One of my favorite analyses of Custer is the last chapter of Robert M. Utley's CAVALIER IN BUCKSKIN (1988). Utley, who has devoted more time to the plains Indian wars of the than probably any other h... more
All of the above appears to give a balanced view of Custer.
However Custer's AWOL misconduct and later presidential suspension are the only variables which really matters. This was the summation o... more
Travilian Station has been called Custer's First Last Stand, but like the LBH, there are likely more assumptions made about the fight than facts. Grant wanted to make a withdraw from Cold Harbor. So ... more
Thanks, Gary, for your statement. It is easy to criticize Custer, but one must take into consideration his entire career, of which there is much to his credit.
For those who might be interested,... more
Roy, what is your perspective of Benteen’s claim that Custer abandoned Elliot at the Washita? I would be interested in Gary’s perspective also since he has done some excellent research of this battle... more
Benteen was a source of strife and division almost from the moment he joined the Seventh Cavalry. It is fair to say that his animosity toward Custer made him a most unreliable source on any matter re... more
that during a staff meeting of his officers, Custer complained of the cowardedly anonymous letter and wanted to know who wrote it. Benteen said that he excused himself, left the tent, checked to see t... more
I have never thought Custer abandoned him. Chaos all around. I'm doing some studying on the aftermath, including Custer's return trip to Washita soon after the massacre/battle. What a grizzly site t... more
Some of the documentation indicates Benteen’s reason for not coming to Custer’s aid was he thought Custer was chasing the Indians and glory up the river and abandoning the rest of the regi... more
Reno gave conflicting orders on his hill. At one point he seemed willing to abandon the wounded. He was accused of being drunk. He ordered his soldiers to mount and then dismount. He was rattled. He ... more
Here ia a description: " Reno's Arikara scout, Bloody Knife, was shot in the head, splattering brains and blood onto Reno's face. The shaken Reno ordered his men to dismount and mount again.... more
Roy, I was not looking for information. Just interested in your overall perspective of Custer and his Indian wars.
Since 1980 I have accumulated a lot of information about Custer and the battle a... more