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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
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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.


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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.


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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.


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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*


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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...


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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*


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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.


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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.


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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


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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??


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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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."


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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.


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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


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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--


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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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


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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.


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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."


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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"


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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


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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.



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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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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?


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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.


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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


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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.


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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