George Armstrong Custer

By in Leadership, Military Leaders

“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

Custer’s Disobedience

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.

Leadership

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.

Criticism

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.

References

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

  • Prof. Lori R. Weintrob

    You rightly point out that Custer’s 1876 defeat against Sitting Bull was a military failure, but its significance and Custer’s entire record needs to be examined a bit more critically. In contrast to many cross-cultural leaders we studied, even military leaders such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Custer did not seek open-minded ways to negotiate with his enemies. Custer held to a pattern of disobeying authority and lack of openness, mostly post Civil War, but that might be traced back to graduating last in his class at West Point. In this era, he was not alone in his inability to negotiate with an open-mind. With the 100th Anniversary celebration of American Independence and the new discovery of gold in Native American territory, and despite the talents of those with Crazy Horse, the defeat became a rallying cry for further violence against Native Americans. See works by Paul A. Hutton, editor, The Custer Reader (2004) and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/grant-custer/.