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 growth as an officer makes a lot of sense. He was a "rock star" for sure who blocked his own advancement in other aspects of life in which he had ambitions.
Custer never seemed intimidated by numbers, especially during the plains wars. Someone, I forget who (it is somewhere in my pile of stuff on Custer), argued that Custer miscalculated the size of the village and struck it at the middle when he thought he was moving against the other end of the village from here Reno engaged. Custer, according to this account, was counting on a familiar understanding of Indian response to village attacks. In engagements of this sort, the first instinct of the Indians was to protect noncombatant women and children from being captured and killed, so they would move to protect them from the troops, scatter and fight a holding position till the women and children were safe away. This tactic also allowed the troops to capture and destroy supplies with minimum losses and separate the warriors from the horse herds. According to this argument, Custer probably was still confident right up to the moment when he realized that he was striking the village at the center. Had he used his scouts to confirm the size of the village (how far it extended along the river), he might have reconsidered his plan to strike as quickly as possible. I don't know how much merit to give this interpretation because, while I have read a fair amount on the subject, I've not sought to reconstruct the fight myself.
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
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