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 take a more direct route and catches up with the Union movement. There is an element of surprise coming with him.
When Custer comes upon Hampton's supplies he captures 1500 horses, and 50 wagons, and over a hundred prisoners. This is no small prize. When we think of cavalry we are thinking about dying horses. Dead horses followed the cavalry. Both sides are desperate for them. Custer probably felt like he had just won the lottery. Deciding to take the horses and supplies was more an act of neccessity than a
As for failure to communicate at 5 or 6 in the morning, yes, probably - most of the accounts I have read don't mention it, and they should. The fighting starts at 5 am and continued onward. It happened quickly. That said, it's Custer's defense is what stands out: the triangle, which holds against a superior force, even puts said force at risk of firing upon their own men, and Custer's calm ability to "appear everywhere," leading his men, reveals someone more than just the poor student he widely thought to be.
Throughout the Civil War Custer demonstrated a cool, thoughtful, and courageous leadership. While he is famous for graduating at the bottom of his class, he was downright artful in his battlefield leadership.
The Stiles book is a very interesting book. Stiles actually conveys better reasons for disliking Custer. What struck me is how Custer's rapid promotion to General robbed him of years of learning how to be a peacetime officer. Liken his promotion to rock and roll stardom. How mature are most superstars?
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
Re: Custer's "First Last Stand" — Dan Brown,Sat Jul 03 19:05
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