mudcat.org: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?

Lonesome EJ 17 Oct 00 - 01:16 AM
GospelPicker (inactive) 17 Oct 00 - 01:23 AM
Lonesome EJ 17 Oct 00 - 01:29 AM
GospelPicker (inactive) 17 Oct 00 - 01:41 AM
Hotspur 17 Oct 00 - 01:47 AM
GospelPicker (inactive) 17 Oct 00 - 01:54 AM
Chanteyranger 17 Oct 00 - 02:00 AM
Little Hawk 17 Oct 00 - 03:36 AM
WyoWoman 17 Oct 00 - 03:55 AM
kendall 17 Oct 00 - 06:27 AM
paddymac 17 Oct 00 - 07:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Oct 00 - 08:42 AM
InOBU 17 Oct 00 - 09:17 AM
Troll 17 Oct 00 - 09:22 AM
Jeri 17 Oct 00 - 09:58 AM
Kim C 17 Oct 00 - 10:04 AM
Jim the Bart 17 Oct 00 - 10:15 AM
GUEST 17 Oct 00 - 10:20 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Oct 00 - 11:03 AM
Irish sergeant 17 Oct 00 - 11:09 AM
Little Hawk 17 Oct 00 - 11:18 AM
Kim C 17 Oct 00 - 11:25 AM
GUEST 17 Oct 00 - 11:28 AM
catspaw49 17 Oct 00 - 11:54 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 17 Oct 00 - 12:10 PM
Kim C 17 Oct 00 - 12:28 PM
Gary T 17 Oct 00 - 12:30 PM
Gary T 17 Oct 00 - 12:34 PM
Kim C 17 Oct 00 - 12:36 PM
WyoWoman 17 Oct 00 - 01:28 PM
DonMeixner 17 Oct 00 - 01:53 PM
marshman 17 Oct 00 - 02:10 PM
wildlone 17 Oct 00 - 02:20 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Oct 00 - 02:26 PM
Bill D 17 Oct 00 - 02:38 PM
Fiolar 17 Oct 00 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Reno 17 Oct 00 - 03:21 PM
SDShad 17 Oct 00 - 03:42 PM
InOBU 17 Oct 00 - 04:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Oct 00 - 06:51 PM
Little Hawk 17 Oct 00 - 07:52 PM
hesperis 17 Oct 00 - 08:32 PM
Hotspur 17 Oct 00 - 11:45 PM
Troll 18 Oct 00 - 12:10 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 00 - 08:10 AM
Irish sergeant 18 Oct 00 - 09:21 AM
Kim C 18 Oct 00 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Barry Finn 18 Oct 00 - 10:09 PM
Ebbie 18 Oct 00 - 11:23 PM
richlmo 18 Oct 00 - 11:36 PM
Lonesome EJ 19 Oct 00 - 02:03 AM
Kim C 19 Oct 00 - 11:12 AM
Melani 19 Oct 00 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson at work 19 Oct 00 - 12:27 PM
Melani 19 Oct 00 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 19 Oct 00 - 04:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Oct 00 - 08:25 PM
Melani 19 Oct 00 - 08:48 PM
Troll 19 Oct 00 - 09:15 PM
Little Hawk 19 Oct 00 - 09:31 PM
Lonesome EJ 19 Oct 00 - 09:58 PM
Troll 19 Oct 00 - 11:22 PM
Troll 19 Oct 00 - 11:36 PM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 12:11 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Oct 00 - 07:22 AM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 12:49 PM
Skeptic 20 Oct 00 - 12:55 PM
Kim C 20 Oct 00 - 01:26 PM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 01:35 PM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 01:45 PM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 20 Oct 00 - 03:41 PM
Troll 20 Oct 00 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 20 Oct 00 - 04:19 PM
Melani 20 Oct 00 - 04:35 PM
Lonesome EJ 20 Oct 00 - 04:50 PM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 05:55 PM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 06:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Oct 00 - 06:27 PM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 21 Oct 00 - 08:56 AM
Little Hawk 21 Oct 00 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 22 Oct 00 - 05:52 PM
Troll 22 Oct 00 - 06:18 PM
Little Hawk 22 Oct 00 - 08:15 PM
Little Hawk 22 Oct 00 - 09:21 PM
Troll 22 Oct 00 - 09:58 PM
Kim C 23 Oct 00 - 09:55 AM
Little Hawk 23 Oct 00 - 10:06 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Oct 00 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 23 Oct 00 - 11:44 AM
Kim C 23 Oct 00 - 12:01 PM
catspaw49 23 Oct 00 - 12:13 PM
AndyG 23 Oct 00 - 12:46 PM
Whistle Stop 23 Oct 00 - 01:13 PM
Kim C 23 Oct 00 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 23 Oct 00 - 04:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Oct 00 - 07:54 PM
catspaw49 23 Oct 00 - 08:52 PM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 23 Oct 00 - 09:16 PM
Little Hawk 24 Oct 00 - 12:38 AM
Kim C 24 Oct 00 - 09:46 AM
catspaw49 24 Oct 00 - 10:08 AM
Kim C 24 Oct 00 - 11:57 AM
Troll 24 Oct 00 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 24 Oct 00 - 02:50 PM
catspaw49 24 Oct 00 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 25 Oct 00 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 25 Oct 00 - 08:19 PM
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:16 AM

This is the offshoot of another thread,in which someone stated that Custer and the Seventh Cavalry were a bunch of "cowardly scum-bags".

For a long time,Americans have unfortunately derived their knowledge of the history of the Indian Wars from Hollywood portrayals.Custer was Errol Flynn,the cocky,brave,boyishly loveable gallant commander who died valiantly in a last stand against insurmountable odds. Custer was also the foppish,arrogant,racist,murdering maniac from Little Big Man,who persecuted peace and nature-loving Indians for fun.

In reality Custer was an incredibly brave individual who became a Union Cavalry hero in the Civil War due to his propensity for leading mass charges by his Michigan unit,hat doffed,sword extended,and shouting at the top of his lungs.He was never a skilled tactician.His approach was to locate the enemy and crash into them,overcoming them by sheer bravado.It worked every time,with one notable exception.His men were a collection of fellow Union Officers who stuck with Custer because of loyalty and friendship,several Irish-born individuals who had risen from poverty and prejudice to positions of power in the American Army.Many of the cavalrymen were immigrants also...Irish,German,Italian immigrants who joined the cavalry as a way of making an honest living and feeding their families. They were stuck with a nasty job- keeping the Cheyenne and Sioux on their reservations and away from white settlers and friendly tribes like the Crow.

Custer,in truth,did not hate Indians.He got into alot of trouble for writing letters to Washington complaining of their poor treatment by corrupt Indian Agents.Most of the Sioux and Cheyenne knew him and respected him,if not having the same feeling for his brother Tom.The Washita Battle was not a Sand Creek scenario,in which undisciplined civilian troops ran amok massacring women and children indiscriminately.There were,however,many "civilian" casualties,in addition to the fact that Custer burned wigwams and food supplies (as he was ordered to) which surely resulted in many deaths from starvation and exposure.

So what were these men of the Seventh Cavalry? Men who carried forward the often mistaken and blundering Indian Policy of the US in the late 1800s,sometimes cruelly,sometimes bravely,and ultimately tragically.To stand on the ground where they fell,to see where the charge stopped,the retreat began,the panic ensued,and where men clustered together for some last solace of dying together in the face of horror...to stand there is to gain some measure of empathy for these men who were,I think,no better or worse than any of us had been in that place and that time.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GospelPicker (inactive)
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:23 AM

You know, in all this threading, NO ONE has asked me to explain or illuminate my definition FROM WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF WHAT I WAS SAYING!!!

I DO NOT BELIEVE HE WAS A COWARD!

MY POINT WAS THAT WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH TO ESPOUSE A CERTAIN OPINION, YOU HAD BETTER BE PREPARED FOR SOMEONE TO NOT LIKE IT! I JUST MEANT THAT IF THE BOOK EDITOR WAS TO REALLY PRINT A FACT, (AND I MADE UP THE ARMY STUFF FOR AN EXAMPLE) HE WOULD BE FOOLISH TO CONVINCE HIMSELF THAT HE WOULD NOT BE CHALLENGED!

That was what I meant; see how easy it is when you allow someone the brief chance to explain themselves?

GP

P.S. All that statement was meant to do was point out that the person with the "dammit all, who cares" attitude (who made some VERY hurtful remarks about my faith) was in no way prepared to explain his opinion... he simply blasted a dear and precious part of my life with no basis in fact whatsoever.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:29 AM

I know,GP,that you sighted the statement as a hypothetical case.It was someone else who agreed with that description,and moreover,I suspect many others might also agree.That's why I didn't refer to you as the source.

HOWEVER,I think it's an interesting topic,and would like to see what others think.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GospelPicker (inactive)
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:41 AM

IMHO, I don't think any man willing to fight for what he believes in is a coward; I just think that any man who would compromise moral integrity at the expense of winning a fight is a coward, brave man in his deeds or not...

I think one statement sums it up... an ancestor of mine said this, and I believe it will stand the test of time as a statement of firm adherence to one's ultimate beliefs...

"As the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."-Chief Joseph of the Hunkpapa Sioux

He fought until he realized that no amount of fighting was going to solve the conflict between the ACTUAL opposing sides--the two CULTURES. Then he walked away and is much braver in my mind for standing up to leave then to carry on in a cause that was wrong and hopeless...

GospelPicker

>$:^)

*pictured above in his feathers and headband*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Hotspur
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:47 AM

Was Custer a scumbag? Not any more than any of the other politicians, lawmakers, and opportunists who drove the locals off their land, tricked and basely cheated them with treaties they did not keep, and gave them poor quality items when they gave them anything. No more than the bureaucrats and missionaries who took no time to understand cultures diferent from their own and decided that the only way to "educate the savage" was to squash out as much of the native people's culture and beliefs as they could. Actually, i'm probably being a little hard on Custer. He was serving as a military officer at the time--in large measure he was just obeying orders...and there you get into a whole other can of worms...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GospelPicker (inactive)
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:54 AM

Hotspur, it was reading about garbage like that (the annihilation of cultures and familt traditions in the name of progress) that led me not only to re-discover my Native roots (Oglala and Hunkpapa Sioux) but also to realize a great change in my ministry (I am a Christian minister)... I learned VERY quickly that every person that we might want to reach with our progress or friendship or religion or whatever MUST be met and recognized as individuals...

About Custer being beholden to a whole other set of leaders... you are so right; another, BIGGER can of worms there!

GospelPicker

>$:^)

*still feathered for the occasion*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 02:00 AM

Very well said, Lonesome EJ. Aside from the particulars surrounding Custer and the battle, I take your remarks to be an excellent case for looking at history within the context of it's own time and place in order to try and understand it better, and for looking at historical figures in their entirety - not simply as portrayed by the "pro" and "con" schools of thought.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 03:36 AM

Yes, Lonesome, Custer was a very brave (and reckless) man, and was caught up in the events of his time. He admired the Lakota and they admired him. They were also very ticked off at him for breaking his word to them on a couple of occasions, as did most of the other Army officers, because they were acting as the long arm of corrupt and self-serving politicians in Washington who were pursuing "manifest destiny" and destroying the Indians in the process. Custer's dash finally failed him at Little Big Horn, where he went seeking "a brevet or a coffin". There was something almost fatalistic in the way he charged to his doom...as if he knew the great days of the West were almost over...so he had to go for one more burst of glory, or die in the attempt. For both Custer and the Lakota it was over. The last hurrah. Money, greed and corruption swept them both away.

One little technical objection to your account...as far as I know, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were not on any reservations at the time of the Custer fight...they were on free Indian land, defending the Black Hills and other ancestral lands. For them, the reservations came later.

But, yeah, I agree with your analysis in just about every way.

And Gospel Picker, I understand your point as well...and empathize with it. I hope that's clear.

My sympathies are most of all with Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and the Cheyenne and Lakota, who held back the tide as long as they could, and won a few great victories for all people to remember.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 03:55 AM

The part of this chapter of U.S. Western history that almost always gets left out is how MANY people who knew the Indians and lived with them and had worked with them for years hated the government's policy and went to bat time and time again for them -- for many of the tribes, although I only know about the Cheyenne/Arapaho, Sioux and the tribes in Oklahoma. The Indian agents often were decent human beings whose hearts broke being right in the middle of the misery our government's policies were causeing. And a lot of the settlers who'd been living among the Indians in Indian Territory were as horrified as the Choctaw, Cherokee and others at the way the Indians' land was being overrun by white settlers, who did so with impunity. Many, many of the cavalry officers and Indian scouts also respected the Indians they had gotten to know so well and were loathe to carry out the U.S. Government's decrees. But wasn't a soldier's life ever thus? This whole sorry chapter is so very, very often a case of what happens when a few strong voices, loud voices, influential voices and/or hysterical voices drown out all the others and when policy gets made based on inaccurate information and hysteria. Was Custer a scumbag? Not in the way Col. Chivington was, that's for certain. But he wasn't a hero, either. White Antelope? Black Kettle? They were heroes. But isn't imposing orders when you disagree with them for moral reasons a pretty base form of cowardice? I mean, if he didn't like burning wigwams and starving out women and old people and little children, couldn't he have chosen not to do so -- and taken the consequences?

ww


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: kendall
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 06:27 AM

I thought Chief Joseph was of the Nez Perce tribe? Also, I read recently an account of the battle of the Greasy Grass in which the writer used an eye witness account of one of the indians. He claimed that Custer watched from a distance as his men were being butchered, then, found himself surrounded??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: paddymac
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 07:49 AM

Kendall, my undertstanding of the Chief Joseph who made the famous statement cited by GP concurs with yours. There might well have been one or more other leaders known as "Chief Joseph" also.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 08:42 AM

Here's some stuff I wrote in the thread Lonesome EJ mentioned up there:

Being brave doesn't mean you aren't doing wicked things; people who do wickwed things aren't necessarily cowards.

It's just that we tend to throw the word coward at people who do something horrible, because it's one of the most powwerful insults we can think of when directed against an enemy. So you get absurd things like Clinton the other day denouncing the suicide bombers in Yemen as "cowards" -which is the one thing you can't reasonably say about a suicide bomber.

The very same Nazis who carried out appalling atrocities were often insanely brave themselves when it came to combat. I am sure the same went for many of the US Cavalry who did the same kind of things as the Nazis, back in the 19th century.

There are different types of courage. Refusing to obey orders you know are wrong is one of the highest forms. I suppose you could on that basis argue that soldiers involved in massacres and atrocities are cowards by definition, unless they actually believe what they are doing is right. Which I imagine few of them do.

The thing is you can be brave in one situation on one day, and cowardly in another situation on another day. That's why using labels like "coward" or for that matter "hero" for people rather than for the things they do is misleading.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: InOBU
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 09:17 AM

Yes, Custer was a scumbag... Genocide is genocide, wether you feel sorry for your victems- like Eichmann or are "only obeying orders..." as was the excuse for those hanged at Nuerenburg. All the excuses in the world cannot cleanse the record of genocide. I am sick of young Germans telling me that the holocaust was long ago and not meaningful in their lives. When I look at the empty palces at our holiday dinner table, and know those places should be taken by people killed soely for the reason that they were Roma, it does not seem like a long time ago to me. When I see the poverty and hopelessness within many American Native nations, Custer seems like recent history as well... I am equally sick of Americans denying the genocide in our own history. Greasy Grass was a great victory in a war against genocide which was unfortunately eventualy lost.
As far as his tallent as a soldier, he also underestimated his foe... He had his men take a rest in high grass, with no pickets on horse back to see over the grass. As one historian on PBS put it, there had to be a moment, a few minutes into the battle, when Custer said... "Oh shit!" Larry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 09:22 AM

LH> As a matter of fact, the Lakota had only been in the northern Great Plains and Black Hills areas for about one hundred years,having been driven from Minnesota by the Cree around 1760.They took the buffalo-rich plains from the Arikara and Kiowa. In 1776 the Oglala, Standing Bull found the Black Hills and they moved into that area as well. Allied with the northern Cheyenne they fought the Crow for THEIR traditional hunting grounds and the Cheyenne eventually took them.
It is a mistake to assume that the American Tribes spheres of influence were static. They moved as need or desire directed them and some of them were quite expansionistic.
There is an article in the October issue of Smithsonian on the Bozeman Trail that goes into this.

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 09:58 AM

Biography of Chief Joseph (Nez Percé)
Crazy Horse (Lakota)
Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Lakota)
and Custer


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 10:04 AM

Personally I always though Custer's attack on the camp at the Washita was cowardly.... how were a bunch of sleeping women, children, and old men going to defend themselves in the snow? They were causing no trouble and did not deserve what they got.

I have never personally cared for Autie. I have always thought him too big for his britches. But I also recognize, within the context of the time period in which he lived, he was doing what he believed was his duty to his country, and I can barely fault him for that.

I also believe, that had he lived, he would have been elected President. Everybody loves a war hero. Unfortunately, they don't always make great Presidents - for example, U.S. Grant.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 10:15 AM

Lonesome EJ, I think the way you framed this question makes it a very important question indeed. It is much too easy to accept an easy answer and learn nothing from the events of the past in the process.

I am of Polish extraction and as I look back over the history of my people and their interaction with their neighbors that mirror what happened in the American West. My point being that wherever you look, wherever you focus your attention on the acts of mankind, you find gruesome and horrendous deeds performed by average guys, by admired guys and by scumbags. Look long enough and you get more than enough data to support the conclusion of the villain in "The Matrix" who identified humanity as a virus on this earth. Gratefully, we are a virus with aspirations toward something better. This is why, I think, that I am absorbed with our history. Because for every horrible deed you can cite, there will be an act of heroism, also. But rather than slapping an easy label on these deeds we need to dig a little deeper.

I think it's important to keep judgmental language out of the discussion. "He was a scumbag" has no value. In the context of his times, and of his role as an officer, etc. he was a brave man. What is important is looking at what was happening and how he reacted; that may help us to make better choices when we need to react to was is happening now. It's that old saw about those ignorant of history repeating it. We need to learn the real lessons, not the easily digestible, readers digest versions.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 10:20 AM

Was Custer a scumbag? I don't know enough about that to comment.

However, I do know that ANYONE WHO CONSIDERS NAZIS TO BE BRAVE is a SCUMBAG.

Hence, McGrath of Harlow is a scumbag.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:03 AM

Being brave doesn't stop you being evil despicable, wahtever you like to call it. It doesn't mean you are worth the ground you are buried in. Hitler was awarded a medal for conspicuous bravery in the First World War. Big Deal.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:09 AM

Dear Guest: I object to use of the term "Scumbag" as you are using it. And indeed as it is used in this thread. But to your appalling statement about McGrath of Harlow first. Your statement is rude, thoughtless, condesending and total inaccurate. I would like to think that at least on this forum, one can state a personal opinion with out being subjected to childish name calling because somebody else doesn't agree with it. McGrath no where in his message condones the Nazis. Let me remind you, courage is not the sole property of those who fight for the right. Were the Nazis bastards? (In a figurative sence) Yes. That doesn't negate the fact that there were those who had great personal courage. On to Custer. First, Custer was a man of his time. We hear a lot about Custer but very little about Phil Sheridan who said and I quote "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Does that make Sheridan a racist. It does. But Custer got the press both good and bad so we don't see threads on "Was Sheridan a racist asshole". Custer was a mediocre tactician but that is partially because of the military mindsdet of his day. He was arrogant, self-promoting and inclined to gloss over his faults while being harsh on others faults. In short, Lt. Col. Custer (His actual rank at the time of Little Bighorn (or Greasy Grass for our Native American friends)was human. Lonesome EJ summed that up nicely but forgot to add that he had one of his soldiers shot for disobeying orders and that he was in actual fact suspended from the army for over a year because of it. It was only reluctantly that President Grant relented and let him rejoin his regiment. Custer had also complained about Grant's brother. The Errol Flynn portrayal is based on Libbie Custer's book Boots and Saddles and let's face it, Mrs. Custer was biased. The other is based on accounts like Little Bigman. written from the Native American perspective. Somewhere in between lies the truth and I suspect that even if it is found this argument will go on until Gabriel blows the Judgement trump. Kindest reguards, Neil


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:18 AM

Ah, well, you should have fought them then, as my father did in 1944 and 1945. He noticed their conspicuous bravery on any number of occasions. Read accounts of the fight for Monte Cassino in Italy if you do not think they were brave...the American general who fought against the German fallshirmjager (paratroops) there said himself that (in his opinion) no other soldiers on earth could have held that position so long under such terrible circumstances. Mind you, a great many German soldiers were not technically Nazis at all, since they were not members of the Nazi party, but of course they were under the command of the Nazi administration, so I imagine that you would dub them ALL Nazis, and tar them all with the same brush...just like the more fanatical and deluded Nazis did to the Jews.

Had you been born into a different group of people at a different time, you might well have hailed them as heroes, little realizing the atrocities that were occuring in the concentration camps at that time. People everywhere are suckers for self-serving propaganda. They tend to believe just what Big Brother tells them.

History is written by the victors. Folk music is written by the survivors.

And McGrath is not a scumbag.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:25 AM

Don't even get me started on Sheridan, who played a very large part in the wholesale slaughter of the buffalo in the 1880s. The idea was that the Indians could easily be subjugated if their food supply was cut off. Sheridan was a mean-tempered, nasty little man. BUT in the context of his time, he did what he had to do to get the job done. Unfortunately said job was not a pleasant one, by any standards.

This is all very interesting and puts me in mind of many conversations I have had about W.T. Sherman. Here in the South, one dare not express any admiration for the man who set Georgia on fire. But Sherman had a determination that is rarely found among the populace at large, and that's what I admire about him. He had grit. How many leaders can you say that about today? And by golly, like it or not, Sherman won the Civil War for the Union.

"War is hell, boys."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:28 AM

To Little Hawk:

Maybe, you're right and McGrath is not a scumbag. Then again, you're the guy who declared himself to be "a great protest songwriter" and has also glorified Nazis.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:54 AM

My, my....."Scumbag" was used by Leej because it was the term used in another thread.

Tell ya' Kim.....I think I may be in real trouble with you my friend........Sherman was born 10 miles west of here and Sheridan 10 miles to the east. And ol' George the "scumbag" was an Ohio native too, born only a few miles from where I was born............OHMYGAWD!!!! I'm a racist, murdering, cowardly SCUMBAG by association............

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 12:10 PM

Custer was a man who traveled with a publicist--his "triumphs" were always wired immediately to the jounalists back East--his actions seemed more to have been dictated by his ambitions for the presidency than any military considerations, or any orders that he may have gotten. Had he not been massacred, he would have been a presidential candidate, as there were many back East already campaigning for him.

Seems to me that Lt.Colonel Custer had been promoted to the rank of General in the Civil War, then demoted--his most distinguished achievement may be the number of times that he was court-martialed--If it hadn't been for his many political friends, he would have ended up in prison or in front of a firing squad--

GUEST, I wish that you would dignify us with a name--Nasty remarks about people from anonymous sources are not appreciated, no matter how justified or well intentioned they seem to the poster. And there are people here who find names for the repeated anonymous flamers--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 12:28 PM

Oh Spaw, you ain't in trouble with me. ;)

I would also like to point out that Lt. Col. Custer was a BREVET General, which is a little different than actually being promoted to General.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Gary T
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 12:30 PM

For a comprehensive and engrossing portrait of Custer, the nature of the time and society he operated in, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, I recommend "Son of the Morning Star" by Evan S. Connell. I thought it did a splendid job of describing the people and events concerned.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Gary T
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 12:34 PM

And as M. Ted and Kim C have mentioned, Custer had a temporary generalship (called brevet). I believe he liked to think of himself as a general nevertheless. Perhaps one our members with greater knowledge of military protocol could elaborate on the brevet ranks.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 12:36 PM

Course, he did like dogs, and he did get court-martialed when he went AWOL to be with Libbie during a cholera epidemic or some such. Anyone who likes dogs can't be ALL bad. But I still say he was too big for his britches.

I read that someone had once said about Napoleon, that he relied too much on his own intellect and that was what brought about his defeat. I think the same can be said of Custer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:28 PM

By the way, Troll, the waves of migration and the taking over of other tribe's grazing and hunting lands indeed happened with great regularity. The thing we forget is that human history is the history of conquest and subjugation -- not all of it, but much of it. I keep thinking maybe we'll learn something from all this past horror and maltreatment of each other, but ... apparently not, if the Middle East is any indicator.

However, and I think this is an important thing to keep in mind, the westward push of the Cheyenne and Lakota was greatly exacerbated -- some say caused -- by the competition of the French and British fur companies who armed the Indian tribes and had an enormous financial stake in them making war on each other.

And also just the presence of guns among tribes caused great inequities between them that had and them that didn't. The ones who didn't kept being pushed farther and farther out of their traditional lands until one day they got their own guns and horses and started fighting back -- and then they became more ferocious than their fiercest foes. The "Fighting Cheyenne" were, until the mid-1800s, a pretty peaceable tribe. And even into the late 1800s, they tried every which way to accommodate and make peace with this savage hoarde of white settlers -- rude, noisy, no manners whatsoever -- who kept encroaching on their land and their lives.

AND ... if you want to talk about courage, compare the honor system among the Plains Indians to that of the British, Canadian and U.S. soldiers they fought against. In Plains society, killing a foe earned some points, but if you really wanted to score, you got close enough to touch 'em, then just touched your coup stick to them and rode away. The highest honors went, not to the one who had slaughtered the most enemy (the white way), but to the one who had the chutzpah to get close enough to be killed by the enemy, then went "Nyah, nyah," and rode away.

ww


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 01:53 PM

It is my understanding that of the men killed by the lakatas and Cheyenne during the battle which took place over a moving field of fire very few were left unmutilated. This was an act of honor to a brave enemy who died well or a man who treated the Indians well. My memory is that except for an arrow that was run through Custer's penis (Typical of the women of the tribes who felt wronged) he was left unmarked by the Warriors of the combined tribes.

I doubt Libby Custer ever mentioned George's daliances with the local indigenous populations.

There was never a doubt of Custer's personal bravery. He showed that many times in the Civil War. Also not only was Tom Custer a decorated soldier but one of the very few in history to have recieved the Congressional Medal of Honor twice.

Certainly not the calling cards of dishonorable men. Were the less than exemplory by todays standards. Perhaps. But as men of their place in history and in the tradition of their calling, they were certainly living by the standard given them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: marshman
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 02:10 PM

And now for a musical referance to the Custer story. We heard Canadian song writer and western historian David Wilkie and his band Cowboy Celtic perform a number called "Custer Died a Runnin" at the Strawberry Music Festival.A very good act by the way ( don't know if they have a web site). According to him Custer died in full retreat and the song got David run out of Montana. marsh hawk


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: wildlone
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 02:20 PM

My Mother whilst in Germany at the end of WW2 was on an operation for the S.I.B. if it was not for the German undercover police I would not be here now.
She also went into Bergan Belsen straight after its liberation and saw first hand what the nazi's could do.
My Father was in the 8th army and he too was at Cassino, he was also wounded at Longstop Hill
My Uncle was in the RN and he too fought and was wounded yes there were nazi's in the German forces.
but why did some british pubs have to ban white American personell while letting in the black and coloured ones.
I am sorry to say this but saying all Germans were nazi is like saying that all American forces in SE asia in the Vietnam war were child murdering rapist vermin.
The fighting and if needs be dieing for what you perceive is right takes a brave person.
The nazi's used to hide behind a facade it seems to me that our anon guest does the same.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 02:26 PM

Yes,Wyo,but mutilation was also a common practice among the Lakota,Cheyenne and other tribes on the Western Plains,and it was a practice that engendered fear,horror,and hate in the Troopers.This form of treatment of the enemy may not have been in essence particularly cruel,since the mutilation was performed upon the slain,but it represented a practice in essence barbarous and incomprehensible to the European mind.It was also a practice which resulted in a horror of being taken captive for the troopers,which resulted in many battlefield suicides,notable among the victims of the Fetterman Massacre,and probably common among the last desparate few in the Little Bighorn Battle.

As far as Custer's watching the massacre from a distance,no one has ever determined exactly how the battle transpired.The only living survivors were among the Cheyenne,Lakota,and some of the Crow scouts,and the accounts differ greatly.It's apparent that Custer's plan was based on hitting the Indian Camp before the Indians could scatter. He sent Reno in from the south as a diversionary tactic to draw the mounted warriors away from the village,while he rode with the greater mass of Cavalry behind the cover of the ridge to Medicine Tail Coulee,which had been described by the Crow scouts as the shallowest crossing available for a Cavalry attack. The charge failed,in part because of the high level of the Little Bighorn,but also because there was such a mass of warriors in the camp that they were pepared for Custer's approach.Several Indians testified that Custer was dropped from his horse by gunfire at the crossing,and was carried back up the coulee to Last Stand Hill.

Several Indian descriptions are quite interesting.One survivor reported that,at the height of the battle,the gunfire was so dense that "it sounded like the popping of threads in a pony blanket as it is torn in half." Another reported that the battle lasted "as long as it takes to eat a meal without hurrying."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 02:38 PM

I don't see any contridictions in the concept of "brave, misguided fool"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Fiolar
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 02:53 PM

Read "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" and weep. M


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Reno
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 03:21 PM

Subject: RE: BS: I ABSOLUTELY GIVE A D***

Date: 17-Oct-00 - 11:52 AM

Little Hawk:

(with apologies for continued thread drift)

My feeling is that the real cowards were the rich and powerful men in Washington who gave the orders and determined the policies from afar.

I realize that "Washington Bashing" and "Federal Government Bashing" are currently in vogue in some circles & especially the Republical National Committee, but there is such a thing as personal responsibility. Nobody 'ordered' these "brave soldiers"[sic] to rape & murder. That's not war, that's genocide. Does "My Lai" ring a bell? IMHO.



Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: SDShad
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 03:42 PM

A fair point about mutilation, Leej, but it should be pointed out that Col. Jack Chivington and his "Bloodless 3rd" certainly had no qualms about it at Sand Creek....

Chris


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: InOBU
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 04:40 PM

Let us define the word coward...
It has been bandied about quite a lot, as has the word scumbag...
When the IRA sent morter shells into 10 Downing Street, and escaped through the steets of London, the PM refered to them as cowards, while his army was bombing Persians from several thousand feet up at rather fast speeds ... The US has called the fellows who launched a suiside attack on a US warship cowards. Now, in the second case, especially, as there is not an on going declaired insurection against the US, I would use words like, dastardly, but reserve cowardly for those who do not put themselves in jeopardy. Thus, though nazi (scumbags) killed my family, unprovoked and in a cowardly manner - to say that there were not brave nazis is silly. In fact, bravery can be linked to stupidity, scumbagism, or any other fault which renders that bravery missplaced. Call, me a scumbag, dear guest, if it puts me in the same company of my brother McGrath, as what ever you say about him, I would be honnored by comparision. As to cowardly, it is making an ad homminum attack on a good and progressive man like Kevin without signing your name.
Larry Otway


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 06:51 PM

"BUT in the context of his time, he did what he had to do to get the job done." You could say the same of the Nazis. You could say it of the people who massacred the population of Srebrenica.

Even "in the context of his time" there are always some people who try to stand out against the crimes approved by the society they are living in, and they are the people we should remember. But most of the time they are forgotten by the history they teach in schools.

Maybe we should save the term "brave" for them - but we should always be aware that the chances are that if we were in that situation, there is a very strong likelihood that we would go along with the murderers in command. Most people always seem to do that.

We seem to find it much easier to be physically brave in combat. For every Schindler there were thousands of Germans who won Iron Crosses. Brave in so many ways - but profound cowards about what really mattered. And that's true so often, in so many settings.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 07:52 PM

Reno - pretty good point. I'll meet you halfway on that one.

GUEST - Naw, I don't glorify Nazis. I just recognize and honour courage, no matter what side it's on. I have said it before, and I'll say it again...I detest Nazi philosophy, and I regard the WWII Nazi regime as an utter disaster for Germany and everyone else involved at that time in those events.

My feeling is just that your buttons get pushed so hard when you hear the word "Nazi" that you stop thinking. I used to be that way about Custer...I absolutely hated him...but I have learned to ease off on my gut reaction when it comes to him...mainly by learning a lot more about him as an individual who had good points and bad points, and lived in a different time. We all have a few things that really upset us seriously, and that has to do with our own background and what we have been exposed to as children or since. I do not approve of Nazis in any way, but I do not hate them with a blind hatred either...I realize that like other people they fell prey to various human weaknesses...as we all do from time to time. I will not inflict on them (as individuals) what they inflicted on the Jews....blind, unreasoning fear and hatred. It wouldn't do any good anyway. It wouldn't help heal anyone.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: hesperis
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 08:32 PM

Go, McGrath!

How about we start a thread about "True Heroes" defined as the ones who did stand up for human rights despite the influences of their time?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Hotspur
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:45 PM

Little Hawk, I think you make a really good point about remembering to treat individuals as INDIVIDUALS. It's too easy to write off a whole group as being one way or another--it's called stereotyping. Thanks for the reminder.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 12:10 AM

It is unfair to judge men out of the context of their time. While we can say that, by the context of OUR time, the Aztec were murderous savages because they practiced human sacrific, by the context of THEIR time, they were worshiping their God in the manner that they thought He demanded.
Saying that there are always a few men/women who stand up for what is right is still putting a modern stamp on the argument. What is "right" changes with time and place.
Among the Asmat of New Guinea, cannibalism is accepted as a proper behavior under certain circumstances. I doubt you could get away with it in Paris or Montreal. Are the Asmat wrong?
Almost anything that happens is wrong when judged out of it's context.

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 08:10 AM

What is "right" changes with time and place.

That's a point of view. I think most people would agree that there are some things that are wrong anywhere anytime. If they don't sod them, because it's still true.

Cruelty is one of those things.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 09:21 AM

Point well taken McGrath. To guest: If you are to persist in character assassination either leave or state your name and be counted amongst the rest of us. Hiding behind the facade of "Guest" to take cheap shots at people you don't know is the mark of a back stabbing coward. Custer was a brevet Major General during the Civil War and as such was entitled to be addressed as general. Woe be to the trooper who forgot that little niciety of military protocol. To brevet some one is to accord them the privilage and responsibility of the higher rank without paying them for it. It is still done in the service today, usually as a precusor of actually getting promoted to that rank. Thus, Sherman (A personal hero) and Grant remained generals when the war ended and Custer did not. Custer was court martialled twice to my knowledge. Once for shooting or having a trooper shot while stationed in Texas. He was suspended for a year in the late 1860s and once for taking "French leave" (Going AWOL) to see Libbie as stated by Kim C. He was removed from command of the 7th Cavalry for that one and as I stated in my earlier thread, only reluctantly reinstated by President Grant. He had also made pointed comments to the press concerning the president's brother and the Indian Affairs Bureau, which in no way endeared him to Grant. Kindest reguards, Neil


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 10:07 AM

Neil - I thought he was brevetted back to General later on but was not supposed to be acting as a General at the Little Bighorn. (I don't remember since Mister put away a bunch of my western books!) It is true, isn't it, that he was never "officially" promoted to General? (I don't understand some of this military protocol stuff.)

Seems like I also remember reading that when J.B. Hickok was the law in Hays, Kansas, that he had to kick Tom Custer out of town for public drunkenness. :)

Regards,

Kim


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 10:09 PM

In each heart one should know if what they are doing is right or wrong the times or the places are no excuse & neither is ignorance for an action that can or should always be considered criminal. Hero or coward, friend or foe no silence or sound should change weither an action is right or wrong. The killing of a child while driving drunk was never ok just excepted up until the recent times but it was never ok the same holds for any other atcion & one should always be held accountable. Rape, pillage, plunder, murder is the same no matter if carried out by a private who felt like it or by a general who was just following orders. Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 11:23 PM

When a person is of their own time, that is not to be remarked upon- it is what most of us are. When one's insight or intellect is either ahead or behind one's time and place that is remarkable.

In time of war, physical bravery is not only revered and rewarded, it is expected. The person who turns tail and runs or goes AWOL during battle is remarked upon, to say the least- he can even be executed for it.

The person who during battle rescues another under fire at danger to himself is heroic, I don't doubt, although one could say that the situation has created its own dynamic. The person who is convinced not only of the futility of war but believes it is wrong and refuses to go to war is heroic, in my opinion. And the person who during battle takes the time and effort to put civilians out of harm's way is no less so.

Judged by those standards, it doesn't seem to me that Custer's actions, lifestyle or persona are the stuff of which heroes are made, but that judged as a product of his own time he was not remarkable.

Ebbie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: richlmo
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 11:36 PM

From what I have read about The Last Stand and Custer, it seems that he was very brave, very flambouyant and had very high aspirations of becoming president or at least getting the credit for a great victory. Perhaps his decision to send Benteen and his troops to the south and Reno across the river while he turned north and into the Indian encampment was just a bad decision,. Or was he trying to grab the glory? I really became interested in this subject a few years ago when I found an old book that belonged to Benteen, called, " Gamefowls - Their History and Origins ". The inside covers have entries concerning his gaming birds, which hen had chicks by which cock and such. The dates were 1870 - 74 from his posts in the Dakota Territories. Really a cool book. Don't think Custer and Benteen liked each other very much.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 02:03 AM

No,rich,Benteen was no admirer of Custer.Benteen was a no-nonsense career officer who was jealous of Custer's fame and detested his flamboyance.

Custer's dispatch of Benteen to wheel around the southern stretch of the Little Bighorn valley only makes sense in the light of Custer's one-track view of the upcoming battle: He was in nervous anxiety that the Sioux would escape before his and Reno's attacks were completed,and hoped that Benteen would cut them off.It was only when Custer finally gauged the huge stretch of the entire village as he galloped along the ridge that he sent a messenger with the note "Benteen..hurry up...big village...bring packs...PS bring packs",a rather pathetic indication that he finally realized he would need all his troops AND ammunition for the coming battle.That he had no plan beyond the massed cavalry charge is an indicator of just how limited Custer's tactical thought processes were.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 11:12 AM

Here's what Mister said last night over supper. (IMO, Mister is just about the smartest man in the world, but of course, I am a little biased.)

"Tom Custer was a real soldier. Autie was a circus clown gone mad."

Now, some of you may recognize that comment about Autie ---- someone actually did say that about him, as he was flamboyant in his mode of dress and he wore his hair long and curly. In short, he was something of a dandy, not unlike George Pickett (but that's another story for another thread).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Melani
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 12:25 PM

Custer was not a scumbag--he was an idiot. He was a handsome, charming, lucky, brave idiot who wanted to be President. Had he lived, he might have been elected--and probably would have done a worse job than Grant. Grant was bent at him as the probable author of an article called "Belknap's Anaconda" which accused Grant's brother of being involved with corruption and graft in the BIA, and almost wouldn't let him join the expedition to the Little Bighorn--based on experience, he should have commanded it.

The statement "Here goes for a brevet or a coffin!" was made by Major Joel Elliot at the Washita, when he disobeyed orders and took off down the river on his own. He and his 18 men got the coffin. He was a good buddy of Benteen, who thought Custer should have taken the regiment after Elliot in an effort to save him (bad idea! way too many Indians downriver!), and Benteen hated him ever afterwards. That was in 1868. Eight years later, Custer sent Benteen off in a bizarre direction with the pack train, possibly just to be nasty and keep him out of the battle. If Benteen hadn't gone back, Reno would have ended up like Custer.

It's obvious that Custer wasn't thinking too clearly that day, for whatever reason--maybe his desire to be President had totally crowded out common sense. He was warned by his scouts that there were many more Lakota and Cheyenne than the 7th could deal with ahead, and he called them old women. When they pointed it out, he couldn't see the gigantic pony herd, even though he was renowned for his eyesight. My guess is that he probably didn't have time to say "Oh, shit!" before he caught a bullet--very early in the fight, according to some Indian accounts.

My favorite book on the subject has long been "Custer's Fall" by David Humphries Miller. I recently read a newer book which described that one as "laughable". I'm not sure why and I don't know what to think--is Miller considered an idiot, or what? Does anybody know--Kim C, you seem to have done a lot of research. I would really appreciate any info or informed opinions.

Custer wasn't just carrying out orders--he was a professional soldier. The military was his lifelong passion, and he loved his job. He was also an honest man who was grossly offended by the dishonesty in the BIA. That sort of thing is very complex, and I have never figured out how otherwise decent people (Robert E. Lee, for example) could make their living by killing people


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson at work
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 12:27 PM

I've got about five books on Custer including Custer's luck, but the one I like most is the fictional account of him that George macdonal Frazer puts together in "Flashman and the Redskins". Taking all that as background, the picture I have of him is extremely brave and not very bright (maybe I'm recalling Fletcher Pratt's description of him as "a gallant idiot who could lead a charge and not do much else") with a deep sense of personal honor and a great need for glory. (I read somewhere that he was hoping to stampede the Republican convention of 1876 into nominating a new war hero and wanted some glory to make it happen) So-- scumbag? Not IMHO. The worst thing that can happen to a nation or people is to have a really bright charismatic leader who is, with the wisdom of history, just plain WRONG. And the prime example of this is Robert E. Lee. Without him the war would have been over by the end of 1862.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Melani
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 02:02 PM

That's pretty much my point, Pete. Lee was a really good guy--kind, honorable, much loved by all who knew him. He was not an advocate of slavery and made arrangements to free his slaves. He went with the Confederacy because he couldn't stand the thought of fighting against his family and neighbors. Unfortunately for all concerned, as you pointed out, he was good at his job. But why did such a good person choose to make his living by killing people?

Custer was quite a bit less complex, as well as quite a bit less well-loved--he either had loyal friends or bitter enemies. But he was basically upright and honorable, if stupid and self-centered. I guess maybe it's a combination of factors--Lee's family tradition was military, it was considered an honorable and appropriate job at the time, soldiers took the same place in society that sports heroes hold now--but really maybe it was the addictive adrenalin rush.

Lee, watching the beginning of a cavalry charge at Gettysburg from a nearby hillside, said, "It is well that war should be so terrible, or else we would grow too fond of it." I guess that sums it up--but I've always felt that it's really too bad that we can't all agree to limit the weapons to flour and water, as is a book about a reinactment I once read. Then we could have all the fun with none of the nasty bits.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 04:37 PM

Melani, your first post came in just about at the same time as mine so it's coincidence we both compared him to R.E. Lee. I agree with Lee's quote (but my books have him saying it at Fredericksburg, where his side won, which makes more sense!) but I think one has to understand war really well in order to hate it. (One of my personal heroes is Lewis Fry Richardson, a Quaker mathematician who hated war so much he spent his professional career studying it and the mathematical distribution of wars in time. . .)
back to Custer. the thread seems to say that a man can be gallant and brave in pursuit of a really stupid cause, and that Custer was personally brave and tactically stupid at the same time. IMHO his real crime was not just killing Indians but wasting the lives of the good soldiers (yes, I will say that) under his command, including Tom.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 08:25 PM

"The worst thing that can happen to a nation or people is to have a really bright charismatic leader who is, with the wisdom of history, just plain WRONG."

Not quite. It's a bit worse to come up against an overhwhelmingly stronger enemy with genocidal intentions who steals your land and murders your children.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Melani
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 08:48 PM

Pete, you're probably right about Fredricksburg, I read the quote a long time ago and am probably remembering wrong. And I totally agree with what you just said about Custer, and his soldiers. Some of them were inexperienced and didn't even speak good English, and some were seasoned veterans. They were all as good soldiers as they could manage, and I think some large number of Medals of Honor were given out for that battle, to the water carriers. The men were also screwed by the bureaucracy, as usual, since their weapons didn't work well in hot weather (!) and jammed up after a few rounds were fired.

So--I'm not familiar with Custer's Luck off the top of my head, but I also liked Fraser's fictional account, as well as the portrayal in Little Big Man. Do you know anything about David Humphries Miller? He says he interviewed Lakota and Cheyenne participants himself, in their own languages, in the 20's and 30's, when they were still alive, and they made him promise not to publish until after they were dead, for fear of retribution. His book came out in the late 50's I think, and maintained that Custer was killed crossing the ford, whereupon the rest of his battalion retreated up Custer Hill, hauling Custer with them. I always took this at face value until, as I said, I saw it described as "laughable" and I wonder why. There is also a new one called Little Bighorn Remembered, by Herman J. Viola, that just came out last year, all Indian accounts.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 09:15 PM

Ebbie, thank you for your analysis. It's good and to the point.
McGrath, I still must take issue. There are no-or very few- absolutes. Among some Native American tribes it was the normal thing to torture am enemy; especially one who had shown bravery. If he died without breaking, his memory was honored. If he survived, he might be returned to his own people or even adopted into the tribe.
Unspeakable cruelty in our eyes but an act to honor an enemy in theirs. They must be judged in the light of their own culture. This is not to say that I would not hesitate to shoot because I understood that this was just their way of life. I do not approve of torture. But I cannot condemn them.
Melanie.The average soldier does not become a soldier so he can kill people. The job of the soldier is to defend his country. If a war starts he may be required to kill but that is not the primary reason for it. Most of the professional soldiers that I have known hated war. My father did I know. He was a soldier for thirty years and he gave up a lot in the defense of the country he loved. I can still remember his nightmares about WWll. troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 09:31 PM

Interestingly enough, there were some conflicting accounts from Indian eyewitnesses of the Last Stand. At least one of them claimed that Custer was hit very early in the battle. If so, it no doubt contributed considerably to the rout of his troops. Another warrior claimed that Custer was killed just toward the end, among his dead and dying soldiers, "standing like a tall shead of corn among the fallen". It was a very confused melee, and it is not unusual to hear conflicting accounts of such incidents.

I also heard that the Cheyenne women asked that Custer's body not be mutilated, because they admired him, but that they simply stuck knitting needles into his ears to open them, so that he would hear better in the Spirit World (he had been warned not to lie to the Sioux during treaty negotiations...or they would kill him...and he did lie to them, and later broke the treaty...which was par for the course in the US Army's wretched record of dealing with the Indians). The knitting needles in the ears, from an Indian point of view, could be looked at as a helpful gesture, rather than a horrible one.

Melani - you're right about the "brevet and coffin" statement...it was made by Major Elliot. In the excellent TV special series "Son of the Morning Star" they had Custer saying it...and I got fooled by that. Despite that small inaccuracy I hugely recommend "Son of the Morning Star"...it's an even-handed and fascinating film of Custer and Crazy Horse, and all the other principle characters...well work seeing, and out in video now.

If we're going to discuss ultimate moral responsibility, then I think that the bravest moral stand is this...do not kill another human being...not ever...no matter what the excuse. That kind of courage could bring all wars to an end. You could make a good case that all killing is murder...whether or not it is legally sanctioned. I consider war to be legalized murder, and I am a pacifist by nature.

Everyone finds their own definition of what it is to be brave, and then they do as best they can within that understanding.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 09:58 PM

I believe that true courage is the mindset that accepts physical injury or death as preferable to being forced to do something you know to be wrong.For many soldiers,that wrong thing was to disgrace themselves and their comrades by running away.For many Plains Indians,it was the sentiment embodied in the phrase "it is a good day to die!"For Gandhi and so many of his followers,it was the foundation of their willingness to absorb any amount of punishment without resistance,in order to accomplish their goal.Thus there is nobility and courage in these acts,committed on the battlefield,or in a prison cell,and these acts transcend any courage or nobility inherent in simply "doing no wrong." At the end of Macbeth,this corrupt man who seized and held a kingdom through deceit,murder,and treachery shouts "Lay on Macduff!" and achieves partial redemption through his courage and welcoming of death. Courageous actions do not by themselves sanctify a bad cause,but in those transcendent moments,the true human spirit shines out.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 11:22 PM

Thank you LEJ.
Little Hawk, is it moral to allow others to die because you are unwilling to kill to save them? It is a paradox to which I have found no answer.

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 11:36 PM

Forgot to add this. Gandhi won because he knew the nature of his enemy. He knew that the British would not slaughter him and his followers. Had he faced the Germans or the Russians, the story would have been very different. Even the French would not have used such restraint.
First rule of war. Know your enemy.

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 12:11 AM

Interesting discussion. I wouldn't try to add a thing to what has been said regarding Custer. Courage/bravery are funny terms to use at times. In many cases it is simply doing what you know, for whatever reason, has to be done. The "lights" each person lives by are different, affected by culture and heritage, sometimes education, religion....so many things. But I question Little Hawk's statement that a person in war is less brave. Thirty years ago, people of my generation lay in Vietnamese jungles and did what they believed to be right based on the world they saw.

It is nice to say that we should all stand up against the legalized murder of war, but it is simply a statement. It takes no more courage to stand against a war than it does to lay in the mud and kill the enemy you believe your opponent to be. In both cases, the people involved are doing what they believe to be right. Never demean the person who fights for a belief whether it is your own or not. Talk is cheap as they say.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 07:22 AM

"He knew that the British would not slaughter him and his followers." He'd have been a fool if he'd known that. Maybe they'd have found it easier to slaughter him and his followers if they'd been throwing stones, or looking like they ,might "make trouble". P>

But when push comes to shove "the British" or "the Russians" or "the French" or "the Americans" or "the Israelis" or "the Palestinians" or "the Irish" are all capable of slaughtering unarmed civilians in certain circumstances. Amritsar...My Lai...Deir Yassim...Omagh... <

That's why we should be careful about talking about the people who have done that as if they were totally different from us, and we could relax, because "our lot" couldn't do that kind of thing. Sadly, it's not true.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 12:49 PM

I agree Mac.......and it again ties into the bravery/courage thing quite well. Doing what one believes has to be done....regardless of consequence.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Skeptic
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 12:55 PM

I think what troll was floundering around trying to say about Gandhi (in his quaint, unsophisticated way), was not that he didn't think the British Colonials would kill, beat, imprison, exile or otherwise do just about anything to preserve their control. Rather, Gandhi was relying on the non-resident British who, in the long run, could neither accept nor rationalize doing all those things to people who didn't seem to fight back.

Of course there was a lot of violent resistance. But very, very simplistically (note to troll, that's an opening for you to comment on. Didn't want you to miss it), the world press reported on the non-violent movement. Made much better reading. And listening. Gandi as hero and victim and the British as oppressors and bullies made much better press than the issues of colonialism, self determination and so on.

Custer, as has been noted, had good press too. And his actions against the Native Americans were fairly typical of the time. The voices raised against the injustices were few and not very influential. In his time, he was a hero and a victim too.

Judging Custer is a little different IMHO. I can explain his actions, in terms of military goals, and social and political realities of the day. That explanation doesn't preclude my judging him, either to excuse or lay blame, based on what I believe is good, right, moral or just. I can explain him in his historical context. Judging him needs to be done in mine.

Regards John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 01:26 PM

I think W.T. Sherman really said it best when he said, "War is hell, boys."

The very nature of warfare drives people to do things they wouldn't normally do in peacetime. And war doesn't have to be what we generally think of as WAR - for instance, I wouldn't just go up to someone and shoot them for the sake of shooting them. But if someone broke into my house and meant to do me harm (an act of war, so to speak) I would have no compunction about squeezing that trigger. None. My survival instinct is very strong; and while I have thankfully never had to resort to such drastic measures, I have sometimes had to do some strange things to get by.

My Army friend is as good and gentle a soul as I have ever met. But I also know that he would do whatever it took to survive in a situation that demanded it. Most of us would, it's just that he's been professionally trained.

Also, the third chapter of Ecclesiastes says there is a time for war and a time for peace, a time to kill and a time to heal. If you believe in yin and yang and the balance of the universe, then you know that there cannot be one without the other. When Newton said that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, he may have just been applying that to science, but I believe it's true in all areas. :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 01:35 PM

Spaw - I'm not saying that a person who fights in a war is "less brave" than a pacifist...but only maybe that he is less aware. It's debatable, of course. Every time we lay down a rule that we think is unshakable, life throws us into a circumstance where that rule is shaken to its very foundations. That is why some spiritual teachings assert that we live in a "lawless universe"...not in the sense of physical laws, but in the sense of moral ones. The truth is, we all make up the rules as we go along, and we frequently change them.

I prefer to be a pacifist, but I can imagine a situation could arise where I would choose to fight instead. If fighting, I would prefer to use just enough force to stop someone rather than to kill them, but I might be forced to kill them, depending...

The Japanese ace Saburo Sakai shot down scores of American and British and Dutch aircraft, without really focusing much on the people in the planes...he was just concentrating on bringing down the machines. One day he shot up an American bomber, and watched as it ditched in the sea. He was relieved to see all 5 crewmen evacuate the sinking plane, and inflate a small life raft which they clung to. He was then horrified to see them attacked by sharks. He flew around and around in desperation, and radioed his base to send a boat and rescue them, but he could do nothing to save them. He said that it was one of the most sickening and horrifying things he had ever witnessed in the entire course of the war.

On another occasion Sakai had a desperate dogfight with an American pilot in a Wildcat fighter, finally scoring hits in the Wildcat's engine and cockpit. The American bailed out, and Sakai followed him down for some time, wondering if he would be all right, because he was just hanging limply in the parachute shrouds, probably unconscious from his wounds. The fight took place over Guadalcanal and Sakai was worried that this man who had fought him so hard might fall into the sea and drown.

Now, that's a warrior I can respect, because he respected his enemies. A few minutes later Sakai himself took a 30 caliber bullet in the skull while making an attack run on a group of Avenger bombers, and managed to fly back 600 miles to his base, through numerous blackouts and periods of virtual blindness. His is the most amazing account of human endurance through excruciating pain and injury that I have ever read.

Obviously, fighters in war are capable of the highest courage, and I salute them for it. Even more, I salute the peacemakers.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 01:45 PM

And you'll remember too that Sakai returned from a kamikaze mission. That didn't happen a lot either. He was a warrior who believed strongly in the Bushido code to be sure, but he did what what he believed and survived the war when very few other Japanese aces did. He also appreciated the tragedy and the irony of war when his close friend Nishizawa, the highest scoring Japanese ace, was killed while flying in an unarmed transport.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 03:12 PM

Yes. Thank you for remembering Nishizawa. Arigato.

"Takahashi"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 03:41 PM

(Anybody else have trouble getting on Mudcat this morning?)
McGrath, on reflection I agree with you.
I also am very happy that I have never had to find out whether I would practice my beliefs on nonviolence, were my family threatened and I called upon . . . "when free men shall stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 04:01 PM

Pete. Yes. I did.
Skeptic. Thanks for clarifying what I was trying to say. I owe you one.
Regarding the "simplistically" line, the term has been applied to my gentle ravings more than once but, somehow, I have never heard of it being applied to you.
No, your writings are usually described as "needlessly complex".
Snogs

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Colwyn Dane
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 04:19 PM

G'day

Custer was probably not a 'scumbag' just a military man who was following the orders of Sheridan who no doubt was dancing to Shermans tune who in turn reported to Defense Dept.

It is easy to be brave in a liberal society than in a totalitarian or authoritarian one.

Story from the XX Congress of the CPSU (1956):

Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the All Union Party, who under Stalin was political head of the Ukraine (1938-49) was addressing the congress:
To their amazement he started to attack and denounce Stalin when from the audience came a loud shout,

"And what were you doing whilst all this was taking place comrade?"

Khrushchev immediately stopped his speech and scanned the auditorium trying to identify the heckler; he gripped his lectern and roared "Who said that?"

Not a sound was heard from the congress.

Then Khrushchev said quietly "And that exactly is what I was doing too comrades."

"I'm not brave enough to be a coward." Anon.

Bcnu.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Melani
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 04:35 PM

Troll, I didn't mean to imply that your dad or any other professional soldier is a bloodthirsty monster who likes to kill people. I was wondering how a moral decent person can reconcile the fact that the bottom line on that line of work is that people will get dead. Obviously, defending one's country is right up there as a motivation--it certainly worked for my dad in WWII. But then it gets easier if another country comes and drops bombs on you and kills a lot of your guys. But from the other side, what good reason was there for Japan to become an agressor in WWII, and did an obviously decent guy like Sakai stop to think about WHY he was shooting down enemy planes? I would guess, from the description above, that he very much divorced the shooting down of planes from the reality of killing the guys in the planes. "Oh boy, got another one! But, oh no! that poor guy is falling in the water and is going to die!" One might legitimately inquire what he thought would happen when he shot the plane down. But I guess that's the answer to how Lee and other moral people did what they did--a separation of thought about what they were doing and the results of what they were doing.

There's no denying that there are aspects of war that are very attractive. A friend of mine told me that he loved his basic training in Oregon--they got to run around in the woods playing war games, but nobody really got hurt. He liked the reality of VietNam a lot less, but 10 years after that experience, he was trying to get me to go out in the Everglades with him and shoot squirt guns at each other.(We never did--with my luck, we'd have both been eaten by alligators.) But once again, let me make a case for limiting the weapons to flour and water, and we can all go out for a drink together when the war is over.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 04:50 PM

Melani,two sides to EVERY story.

The Japanese characterized their expansion like this:The Far East as a geographic area,and orientals as a race,taking control of their own destiny. There is no doubt that the European Colonial Powers had set the stage for this justification,as they all claimed territory and trading monopolies in the orient.The Boxer Rebellion was an early manifestation of oriental anger.

Couple this political cause with the traditional unquestioning loyalty of the Japanese Military,and you have the recipe for imperial expansion. The fact that the Japanese Army slaughtered thousands in Manchuria and other areas in the process of representing the Rising Sun of Asia didn't seem to compromise the initial justification.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 05:55 PM

Interesting point, Lonesome. The "Asia for the Asiatics" movement certainly played its part. At the same time, the atrocities committed on other Asians by Japanese soldiers were in some cases so atrocious as to be almost beyond comprehension, as in the rape of Nanking, China. I think it had something to do with how rigidly the Japanese suppressed their emotional side most of the time...then they tended to explode into extraordinary violence under circumstance of war...or when drinking. Japanese servicemen tended to get very drunk when on leave and pick fights with people in rival branches of the Imperial forces. The Army and Navy guys were always getting into fights. Of course, that happened in the Allied forces quite a bit too, but I have the impression that it was more extreme in the case of the Japanese.

There is also a lot of Japanese pornography now that is very violent and sadistic, despite the fact that their actual society tends to be much more orderly and crime-free than in North America.

Anybody got any theories on the reasons behind this?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 06:11 PM

Hawk, you seem especially well versed on the porn, so if you could list me a couple of dozen websites, I'd be happy to check into it.

As we have shifted the subject to latter day people and atrocities......Do we view our own times differently than those of Custer? Is there a contemporary character who is in any way similar? And would YOU have ridden with Custer as a trooper?

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 06:27 PM

"Is there a contemporary character who is in any way similar?"

Maybe, if you were a Serb, Arkan or perhaps General Mladic?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 06:57 PM

C'mon, Spaw, I'm a mere dabbler compared to you when it comes to that. There's nothing I could possibly tell you about porn sites that you don't already know. :-)

Mind you, here's one you should know about...

http://www.getbent.com

Totally tasteless and offensive stuff. You'd love it.

Now, if you want to know something obscure about Bob Dylan...I'm your man...as Leonard Cohen once said.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Colwyn Dane
Date: 21 Oct 00 - 08:56 AM

G'day

KimC you wrote:
And by golly, like it or not, Sherman won the Civil War for the Union.

To me that's an interesting statement; can you give me/us your reasons - via another thread if necessary.

Bcnu.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Oct 00 - 11:29 AM

I wouldn't exactly say that Sherman "won the civil war for the Union", but he certainly made a huge contribution toward doing so. So did Ulysses S. Grant, by his remorseless battles of attrition against the numerically weaker southern forces. The US Navy also did so, by blockading the entire southern coast and capturing major harbours and rivers.

What really won that war for the Union was their much larger population and industrial capacity (as pointed out by Rhett Butler in "Gone With The Wind", much to the disgust of his young friends, who were gung-ho to get out there and beat the Yanks). The South had almost no chance at all...unless they could discourage the North by a series of spectacular victories and cause them to abandon the war prematurely.

They almost succeeded in that, but Lincoln would not be deterred from restoring the Union...no matter what the cost. Lee went to Gettysburg hoping to score a victory that would destroy the Union's will to continue...but he failed in the attempt. That was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy, kind of like Stalingrad was for the Germans.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Colwyn Dane
Date: 22 Oct 00 - 05:52 PM

G'day,

Little Hawk lots of stuff that you wrote regarding the 'History of the Great Rebellion in the USA' I agree with.

So KimC if you are reading this please 'reveal' yourself.

Bcnu.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 22 Oct 00 - 06:18 PM

Contrary to popular belief, Lee did not go to Gettysburg deliberately. Stuarts cavalry went forraging for shoes and attacked a supply train near Gettysburg. The sounds of the fight drew nearby Union forces, Southern reinforcements, came up and the thing just grew.
Neither side wanted to fight then and there but circumstances dictated it. My father recalled as a small boy hearing three old men (two uncles and a cousin) talk about the battle which they had all survived unscathed. It was their voiced opinion that Picketts change was " the dumbest dang thang I ever seen" and that Lee could have won if he had hit the flank again.
These were relatives on my great-grandmothers side. My great-grandfather fought "fer the Republicans" as one of his sons said and Grannys brothers and cousins would not come to visit her until he died in 1905.

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Oct 00 - 08:15 PM

No, Troll, not Gettysburg specifically, but Lee DID go to Pennsylvania deliberately, with the intention of doing damage on Northern soil that would destroy the confidence of the North.

Pickett's charge was an uncharacteristic blunder on Lee's part, an awful mistake. I think he must have been tired that day or not feeling well.

I have numerous times played out Gettysburg on military board games, and it's a tough one for the South to win. They have to strike fast, before the Union forces can unite and consolidate in a good position, KEEP STRIKING FAST, and they can't afford one single mistake. The odds, I'd say, are about 3 or 4 to 1 in favour of the Union winning by the 3rd day.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Oct 00 - 09:21 PM

Okay, it's time to put an end to this thread, with the definite answer to the original question...

No. A scumbag is an open-ended, thin, flexible container, intended to hold scum or slimy material; or such a container with slimy, scummy material inside it.

Custer was a US Cavalry officer. He did some scummy things on certain occasions, but he was not, per se, a scumbag, nor were his men. They were just trespassing on Indian land, that's all, and their luck ran out.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 22 Oct 00 - 09:58 PM

Little Hawk.
Play Gettysburg where the South holds Little Roundtop. A whole 'nother ballgame.
They missed taking Little Roundtop by about 15 minutes. Had they suceeded, the war might have ended differently. There is a book called-I think- Bring The Jubilee, which postulates the South winning Gettysburg. It's a good read.

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 09:55 AM

Howdy, y'all, sorry I don't have computer access on the weekends.

I say that Sherman won the war because it was Sherman who destroyed everything in his path that was left to destroy. Here in the South he is still vilified for that. The main reason the Union was able to win, as (I believe it was Little Hawk) pointed out, was simply that they had more stuff and the South had run out of resources. People have written entire books about Why The South Lost The War. I don't think it takes a whole book. The South ran out of fighting men, ammunition, food, textiles, you name it. We just ran out of stuff.

Interestingly enough, before the war ever started, Sherman told a friend of his, you can't fight the North and win because you just don't have the stuff to do it with. And he was right.

BTW, back to Custer - I understand from my Army friend that they don't do brevets anymore.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 10:06 AM

Hey, troll, I think you are probably right about Little Round Top. A good defensive position was vital in those days, and could cause the decimation of a much larger attacking force. Most interesting point! Thanks.

- LH


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 11:18 AM

I thought a scumbag was something else a bit yukkier...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 11:44 AM

Consensus seems to be emerging: Custer was not a scumbag, unless one is an unintelligent person who simply flames with thoughtless namecalling, and of course there is none of that on the Mudcat.
Meanwhile-- alternate history novels are fun! Ward Moore wrote Bring the Jubilee back in 1953 IIRC and the South took Little Round Top and kept Meade from uniting his army, and was defeated in detail. Mackinlay Kantor took much the same approach. When Oldest Daughter took MacPherson's Civil War History course at Princeton, she found that he had once used as a final exam question "What single small change in history would you make so that the South wins the war?" Answers were judged on the size of change needed (no fair giving Lee an atomic bomb!) -- Turtledove has as his point of departure Special Order 191; it never got lost, Lee defeated mcClellan in September 1862 and Independence came a month later. My own change is George Thomas, who went South instead of staying with the North. . .
As for the Sherman quote, he was head of a Louisiana military academy as secession fever swept the South, and he told one of his Southern friends that they had no chance of winning as Kim remembers. But that's incomplete. I keep quoting Fletcher Pratt who said yes, the industrial power of the North was what decided the war, but only AFTER a series of battles were fought that set the stage for industrial power to be decisive. i like that answer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 12:01 PM

That's a good answer.

My change would be, Stonewall Jackson lived. :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 12:13 PM

Damn you Pete!! I always liked playing the "What IF" game about the war because I always had an answer that no one else did.....George Thomas.

He was without doubt the greatest defensive tactician of the time, and maybe of any time. Had he not been a t Mill Springs, Stone River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, etc.....What would have been the outcome. AND, what if he had been with the Confederacy paired with the Jacksons and the Lees......

JEFF DAVIS: "Okay Abe, I'll trade you 4 Braggs and 3 Polks, and a couple of Johnstons for ONE Thomas!"
ABE: "Kiss my tall ass Jeffy."

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: AndyG
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 12:46 PM

The Confederacy, (like Germany in WWI & WWII & Japan in WWII) cannot win by defense. Putting up a strong defense is a challenge, but no threat, to their powerful and resolute neighbours. The stronger power can sit back and prepare whilst the weaker power is denied this luxury. Even perfect defenses will fall to blockade, famine and pestilence.

Economically the odds are always in favour of the North and they improve as each month passes.

Short, Sharp, Demoralising and primarily Victorious War is the only real option open to a weak state fighting a powerful antagonist. Time is on the side of the rich.

One ATL that might bring on a Confederate victory would be to ensure that Lincoln never gets to political ascendancy. Lack of resolution in maintaining the Union might have a far more telling affect on the Norths desire to expend time, effort and resources pursuing their cause than all the resistance that the Confederacy could mount.

AndyG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 01:13 PM

It's true that the North's larger population and substantially larger industrial capacity proved decisive, and it's equally true that many people (not only Sherman) recognized this before the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter. But many people also recognized the overwhelming advantage England had held over the American colonies in their own war for independence (which the Americans also fought as a defensive war). This was the example that many southerners kept in mind when they went to war -- there was a great deal of sentiment in the Confederacy that they were carrying on in the tradition of George Washington (a Virginian, they would have reminded us).

The South never expected to win the war based on military might alone. They hoped to exhaust the North's will to fight. At a couple of points in the struggle, they almost succeeded. In fact, Lincoln himself was very worried that they might succeed, and that McLellan would win the election of 1864 and bring the war to an end through a negotiated separation. With the enormous casualty lists, and superior Southern generalship leading to seemingly endless Confederate victories on the battlefield, sentiment to end the war and let the South go its own way was very strong in the North.

The Confederacy also hoped to bring England in on their side, much as the American colonies had brought in France; not an entirely realistic hope in retrospect, but clearly a significant component of their strategy.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 01:21 PM

Has anyone else ever noticed that George Thomas looks a lot like the actor Richard Vernon?

I read that Thomas's sisters turned his portrait to face the wall and never spoke to him again as long as they lived.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 04:41 PM

Man, talk about thread creep! Well now I know what Richard Vernon (never heard of him) looks like! I heard the same story about Thomas the Virginian and his family's reaction.
I have seen it argued that the election of Lincoln was actually a very Bad Thing, and I have seen a plausible alternate scenario constructed where Lincoln is never nominated and the hotheads on both sides are kept out of power, and the Industrial Revolution slowly makes slavery obsolete (and replaces it with wage slavery? let's not pretend life in the North was so wonderful!) and the whole question of slavery is settled peacefully and without secession.
Catspaw, I think you underestimate A.S. Johnston. The way he got himself killed was totally in character and I sometimes wonder what he might have done if he had lived-- and I have the same wonder about an unwounded Jackson at Gettysburg. Remember also that Sherman was very sorry to see Joe Johnston go-- his memoirs say "At this point the Confederate government rendered us a most valuable service."
Just to bring this thread back to music, has anybody ever heard a verse to Marching through Georgia that went
So roll another barrel out, the party just begun
We beat old Joe E. Johnston, you oughta see him run
And when we crossed the Etowah, boys, didn't we have fun
As we were marching through Georgia
I learned it from my father who said he got it from his grandfather, Cpl. John Sparling 20th Ohio V.V.I.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 07:54 PM

Aah, Alternative History! - here's one I outlined in a recent thread , which avoids having anyone winning in the Civil War, because there wouldn't be one on that timeline.

And all it takes is a sneeze:I've sometimes speculated about an alternative history in which some sentry on the Heights of Abraham spotted the British climbing up to attack, because sopmeone sneezes, and he gives the alarm.

French victory in the battle leads to an end of the war in which Canada stays French, the Thirteen Colonies stay British. No revolution, because the British are seen as a valuable protection against the French, and the taxes don't seem such a bad price to pay for it.

A generation later the French have consolidated from Louisiana to Canada, in partnership with the existing inmhabitants, and have probably broken off from the France, where there hasn't been a French Revolution, which had largely been precipitated by defeat in the Seven Years War. And so forth.

All because of a sneeze. Alternative history is great stuff.

(I thought the consensus was that Custer was no more of a scumbag than the people who carry out ethnic cleasning today, say in the former Yugoslavia. No more and no less.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 08:52 PM

You're right Pete....and I don't underestimate either Joe or Albert Sidney, but like many Confederate commanders they were somewhat trapped by the "generalship" of Davis and not their own. Both had the respect of their counterparts and neither dishonored himself in the manner of, say Bragg. Both Presidents had relationships with their field commanders which colored the way they operated in the field. I think though that Davis, being more militarily trained (although perhaps not as strategically savvy as Lincoln), tended to view the fieldwork thinking, "I could have done better." Maybe that's not true, but its hard not to get that sense. In Lee, he obviously saw something different, but for the rest I think he felt superior. I dunno'....Could be wrong.....often am.

I never had the pleasure of hearing from the "horse's mouth" either, but my grandfather talked often of his uncle, Lamphear Pittis, who served with the 125th O.V.I. out of Harrison/Muskingum/Licking Counties.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Colwyn Dane
Date: 23 Oct 00 - 09:16 PM

G'day,

After Gettysburg the army under Lee's command still existed albeit with a bloody nose - just like it did after Antietam.
So, for me, Gettysburg was a important event for the Union but not strategically important - more important was the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4th.

The problem for the Union was how to get to grips with Lee and how to deliver a knockout blow.
Do you think the Halleck/Meade combination would have brought Lee to bay after Gettysburg?
My reading suggests, to me, that Union generals were in the main better in defence than attack.
If Halleck/Meade had opened an 'on to Richmond' offensive in Viginia, they of course still would have have had to face the problems
that the Grant/Meade/Butler/Sheridan combination did face when the 1864 campaign was up and running only of course the director of the campaign was Grant.
Grant made the difference between military success and failure for the Union; he was an attacking fighter and as Sherman put it in a letter to Grant:

"I believe you are as brave,patriotic, and just as the great prototype Washington - as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest as a man should be -
but the chief characteristic is the simple faith in success you have always manifested, which I can liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in the Savior.
This faith gave you victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when you have completed your best preparations, you go into battle without hesitation, as at Chattanooga -
no doubts - no reserves; and I tell you, it was this that made us act with confidence..."

Grant in his Memoirs writes about Thomas:

"...He gained the confidence of all who served under him, and almost their love.
Thomas's dispositions were deliberately made, and always good. He could not be driven from a point he was given to hold.
He was not as good, however, in pursuit as he was in action.
I do not believe that he could ever have conducted Sherman's army from Chattanooga to Atlanta against the defences and the commander guarding that line in 1864.
On the other hand, if it had been given him to hold the line which Johnston tried to hold, neither that general nor Sherman, nor any other officer could have done it better."

Bcnu.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Oct 00 - 12:38 AM

Wow! Great stuff, people. I did not know about George Thomas...a major gap in my civil war knowledge, it seems. Could you maybe start a thread about him and fill me in further? I am so damn busy tonight with a rush order that just came in and has to go out tomorrow AM, that I will not be here for a bit...but how about it? I'll take a look tomorrow.

Thank you.

- LH

Time for a new thread, I think.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 24 Oct 00 - 09:46 AM

I -think- Thomas was also commanding Federal forces in Franklin and Nashville in November/December 1864. (shame on me, I should be able to say that with certainty; I have not had enough coffee yet)

Richard Vernon is a character actor who you've probably seen at least once if you've ever been to the movies. I reckon most of you might remember him as the man who chased after Josey Wales.

I also think it's uncanny how much Don Henley looks like U.S. Grant.

Somebody start another thread. :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Oct 00 - 10:08 AM

On what? Actors that look like Civil War generals?

And yes, Thomas did command then, but as has been pointed out, ne was not as effective on the offense as the defense. Now if you paired him on the same side as Longstreet, you'd have a tough combo to beat!

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Kim C
Date: 24 Oct 00 - 11:57 AM

Well, unfortunately, by November 1864, the Army of Tennessee wasn't much to beat anyway; and Hood, in his infinite wisdom, pretty much decimated the forces that were left at Franklin, sending them on a full frontal assault across an open field. (I guess he had been sleeping at Gettysburg.)So by the time they got to Nashville, there warn't much left to fight.

(Jeff Daniels does sorta look like Chamberlain, too, come to think of it... and Ferris Bueller was kinda scary as Robert Gould Shaw, but he was only a Colonel...)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: Troll
Date: 24 Oct 00 - 12:34 PM

Oh, now I'm headin' homeward,
My heart is full of woe.
I'm goin' back to Georgia,
To look for Uncle Joe.
You may talk about your Beauregard,
and sing of Gen'ral Lee<
But the "Gallant" Hood of Texas,
Shore played hell in Tennessee.
To the tune of "The Yeller Rose Of Texas"_ the old version, NOT the Mitch Miller one.

troll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 24 Oct 00 - 02:50 PM

yes, "the gallant hood of Texas" sure "played Hell in TN", just like the song says. I sometimes tack that verse on when trying to sound like DaCosta Woltz's Southern Broadcasters. . . but I digress
Once again I am quoting Fletcher Pratt; he wrote so well that sometimes I accept his ideas little too uncritically, and it's been years since I read this passage, but Here Goes:
Thomas died in 1870, which was too soon for the great military debates of the 70s and 80s, where the generals fought and refought the war in the pages of the Century magazine (Pete's note; these were the articlesthat were collected as "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" that four volume set which keep coming into and out of print. I gave them to my father sometime in the 1960s and therefore inherited them back in 1983. . . ) The controling voice in those debates was, of course, Grant's, and he and his lieutenats repeated the theme on Thomas' slowness until it became one of those things that everybody knew. It happens not to be true. Look at the battle of Mumfordville, which never got fought because Thomas had moved so fast that he put Bragg into such a pickle that he retreated rather than fight. Look at his bursuit after Nashville, which destroyed Hood's army and Hood himself, who asked to be relieved after the battle.
so there's one of the greatest military historians in the US reminding us that No Way was Thomas "slow" when it counted. Sometimes Sherman blamed his own lack of speed in the Atlanta campaign on Thomas because "everybody knew" he was so slow. Want another "what if?" Sherman gives the job out outflanking Johnston at Resaca to Thomas instead of Macpherson. I see the Army of TN surrendering in the field in early May 1864, and the veterans marching through Georgia six months early.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Oct 00 - 03:35 PM

Grant never seemed to have a "feel" for Thomas as he did for others, especially Sherman. I'm not real sure why that is as he consistently proved himself very able. Was there some pre-history between them or perhaps the fact that Thomas was a Virginian? I don't believe it was an outright kind of thing, Grant always seemed cordial enough, but the more you read about them the more clear it becomes that there was some "disdain" (for lack of a better word) on Grant's part. You almost get the feeling he wanted somebody like Thomas......just not Thomas.

Perhaps too, the things that made Thomas a great defensive leader led to a methodical approach on the offense that is often interpreted as slow. Just prior to Chickamauga, his forced 20 mile night march cannot be considered slow at all, although at that point Thomas had already moved to a defensive thinking and had it not been for the complete ineptness of the Army of Tn, the Union would possibly have been chopped up by pieces. Part of the salvation for the Union at that point was the haste with which Thomas moved to close ranks.

Thinking about that though.........Don't you also just "feel" a bit for Braxton Bragg? I mean he was not brilliant or anything, and it can be legitimately argued he was highly neurotic, but has anybody ever had so much trouble getting getting a simple message across to his commanders?????

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 08:53 AM

The picture I have is not that Thomas and Grant disliked each other at first, but that their staffs saw them as rivals, and the insults started lower and worked their way up to the top. (Gee, nothing like that could happen NOW) So, by the end of the Chattanooga campaign, Grant disliked Thomas especially after he had just won Grant the battle after Sherman had failed. I think the other problem might have been the mutual resentment felt between two men, one who had been allowed to resign to avoid charges for conduct unbecoming , and the other man well in the old-boy network of 2nd Cavalry. IIRC every officer in that unit went South-- with the exception of Thomas!
and yes, sometimes I feel sorry for Bragg.Of course, his bad moods brought it on himself; I remember one sketch of Bragg that ended with the words "and he died the singularly appropriate death of distemper." I've never been part of a formal hierarchical organization (except in theory) but I can well imagine what kind of Hell a man of Bragg's personality could make for his subordinates.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?
From: GUEST,Colwyn Dane
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 08:19 PM

G'day,

The way I read it is that Sherman's attack on Tunnel Hill during the Chattanooga campaign
was held up by by the Confederates bringing extensive re-enforcements to that part of the battleground.
The most that Sherman could do was to maintain his position until the success of Thomas and Hooker
n the centre and right would give him a chance to attack with advantage.

Thomas couldn't move in the centre until Hooker was in position on his right, and Hooker progress was delayed because of a destroyed river bridge; his assault started about five hours late.

I don't think it was Sherman trying to win the battle single-handed;the topography in his sector didn't give the attacker much advantage.
He done his best - in this case having to hold the nose of the enemy while Thomas & Hooker kicked the rear end.
Bragg's report of the battle blames the troops who "first fled, and brought this great disaster and disgrace upon our arms."
Preident Davis in his message to Congress (7 December 1863) seems to concur in attributing the blame to the troops and talks about "the first defeat that has resulted from misconduct by the troops."

About the Thomas - Grant relationship:
In October 1863 Thomas commanded The Army of The Cumberland and Grant was in charge of the newly formed Division of the Mississippi(which included everything from that river to the Appalachians).
Grant's staff surely were not concerned about Thomas as a candidate for Grant's job - I would have thought that Sherman was the King in waiting.
Grant and Thomas had overlapped at West Point for a year and both had fought in Mexico.

Grant's official report about Nashville reads of his impatience over, to him, was the unnecessary delay of Thomas starting the action.
"This impatience was increased upon learning that the enemy had sent a force of caalry across the Cumberland into Kentucky.
I feared that Hood would cross his whole army and give us great trouble there."

That sounds reasonable and what Grant did next suggests it is how it was.

"After urging upon General Thomas the necessity of immediately resuming the offensive, I started West to superintend matters there in person."

Grant closes his report as follows:

"But his [Thomas's] final defeat of Hood was so complete that it will be accepted as a vindication of that distinguished offer's judgment."

I rest M'lud.

Bcnu.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
 


This Thread Is Closed.


Mudcat time: 19 October 12:03 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.