“There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the 7th Cavalry”
-George Armstrong Custer
George Armstrong Custer will always be known for his failure at the Battle of Little Big Horn, in 1876, and leading his men along with himself into a massacre. Aside for that fateful day, he was known for his strong leadership and efficiency during the civil war. He may have been courageous, but he lacked humility.
Three Key Events
- June 29, 1863, Custer is commissioned as a Brigadier General, making him the youngest general during the battle of Gettysburg. He got this position due to his bravery at Aldie and Brandy Station, even though he was so young and inexperienced. This battle is was his claim to fame. He was assigned to Kilpatrick’s cavalry division. He named the division the “wolverines.” This point was was the apex of his military career, and it gave him a name among the Union’s leaders.
- Battle of Gettysburg: July 3, 1863, the final day of the battle at Gettysburg. Things were not looking to good for the confederate opposition, so they pretty much made a “Hail Mary throw.” During Pickett’s charge, confederate troops pierced the union lines during the final assault, receiving heavy casualties. In response to this, J.E.B Stuart’s cavalry unit, the “invincibles,” attempted to flank the Union line in support to increase the chance of success. Custer and his “Wolverines” fought back. Custer actually had two horses shot from under him, but they still managed to repel Stuart’s unit, saving the federal troops from a heavier loss of casualties, using a mounted charge, ultimately ending the conflict.
- The Battle of Little Big Horn took place on June 25, 1876. It was this day, that George Custer’s name went into the history books, but for reasons he would never want. During the Yellowstone expedition into the Black Hills, the military force involved sparked the Sioux uprising. Under the command of General Alfred H. Terry, Custer was to be a part of a two column attack, but during a scouting mission, his unit noticed a large settlement, 900-1800 strong, under the command of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Custer denied reinforcements and decided to attack with his force of 266 men and officers. He led them into a slaughter and all were killed, including himself.
- He went to The United States Military Academy, graduating in 1861 as the last in his class. He lacked as a student and was constantly making trouble. He was actually almost expelled several times for being trouble maker and a practical joker on his fellow class mates.
- Also at West Point he got into a fight with two cadets but it was ignored when he got his commission after graduating.
- Also, several times he left his post to visit his wife and he was eventually suspended for it.
- In 1874 he broke the treaty of 1868 by going on an expedition into the sacred Black Hills where he found gold. When he confirmed this gold, it started a gold rush in the Black Hills, starting the Sioux uprising.
Morality of Indian Wars
It turns out that Custer attacked a peaceful Sioux Village and was remembered as a hero. This was not uncommon for the time, but this is a perfect example of this aggression. At the time they were praised and manifest destiny was the main concern from the military side of the country. Gold, land, and pride almost destroyed a civilization of people that have been in America since before the pilgrims came. This is disgusting and it is uncivilized, we were the savages, not the Indians. We were responsible for the displacement of so many natives to this land we call home, negligent of the fact that it was theirs as well.
Custer was a very bold and courageous leader. He was always in front and gave his men the courage to fight as well. He was inspiring to those under him, and that made them such a powerful and effective fighting force. He was very persuasive as well and that brought him very far as well.
Custer’s focus was only on himself. He was only concerned with how he would look in the outcome of the campaigns he was involved in. Fame and glory was his goal, and that is what killed him. He attacked that camp during Little Big Horn, in the search for glory and fulfillment of his pride.
Bundt, Thomas S. 2012. “CUSTER: Lessons in Leadership.” Military Review 92, no. 1: 90-91. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 9, 2012).“
“George Armstrong Custer.” Civil War Trust. Accessed December 2, 2012. http:// www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/george-armstrong-custer-1.html
Hickman, Kennedy. “Indian Wars: Lt. Colonel George A. Custer.”http:// militaryhistory.about.com/od/1800sarmybiographies/p/custer.htm