Dan Brown
Re: Custer's "First Last Stand"
Sat Jul 03, 19:05

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
mistake.

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?










    • Custer's "First Last Stand"Gary Roberts, Sat Jul 03 16:00
      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
        • Good points, DanGary Roberts, Sun Jul 04 13:04
          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
          • Happy 4th Indeed!Dan Brown, Sun Jul 04 18:59
            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
                  • Well...Dan Brown, Mon Jul 12 16:40
                    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
                    • "his troops liked him"B.J., Tue Jul 13 13:16
                      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
                      • The Michigan BrigadeDan Brown, Wed Jul 14 13:07
                        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
                        • The morale of the WolverinesDan Brown, Wed Jul 14 17:14
                          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
                • Fame and GloryDan Brown, Sat Jul 10 13:09
                  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
                  • Lieutenant Colonel Custer .....B.J., Thu Jul 15 15:41
                    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 staticDan Brown, Fri Jul 16 7:21
                      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
                      • Re: History is not staticB.J., Fri Jul 16 13:36
                        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
                      • Let's Face ItGary Roberts, Fri Jul 16 11:10
                        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
                        • Re: Let's Face ItB.J., Fri Jul 16 14:18
                          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
    • I'm unsure as to what you meanDan Brown, Fri Jul 02 10:57
      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
  • Click here to receive daily updates