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BS: Was Custer a Scumbag?

GUEST,Colwyn Dane 25 Oct 00 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 25 Oct 00 - 08:53 AM
catspaw49 24 Oct 00 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 24 Oct 00 - 02:50 PM
Troll 24 Oct 00 - 12:34 PM
Kim C 24 Oct 00 - 11:57 AM
catspaw49 24 Oct 00 - 10:08 AM
Kim C 24 Oct 00 - 09:46 AM
Little Hawk 24 Oct 00 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 23 Oct 00 - 09:16 PM
catspaw49 23 Oct 00 - 08:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Oct 00 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 23 Oct 00 - 04:41 PM
Kim C 23 Oct 00 - 01:21 PM
Whistle Stop 23 Oct 00 - 01:13 PM
AndyG 23 Oct 00 - 12:46 PM
catspaw49 23 Oct 00 - 12:13 PM
Kim C 23 Oct 00 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 23 Oct 00 - 11:44 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Oct 00 - 11:18 AM
Little Hawk 23 Oct 00 - 10:06 AM
Kim C 23 Oct 00 - 09:55 AM
Troll 22 Oct 00 - 09:58 PM
Little Hawk 22 Oct 00 - 09:21 PM
Little Hawk 22 Oct 00 - 08:15 PM
Troll 22 Oct 00 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 22 Oct 00 - 05:52 PM
Little Hawk 21 Oct 00 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 21 Oct 00 - 08:56 AM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 06:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Oct 00 - 06:27 PM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 06:11 PM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 05:55 PM
Lonesome EJ 20 Oct 00 - 04:50 PM
Melani 20 Oct 00 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 20 Oct 00 - 04:19 PM
Troll 20 Oct 00 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 20 Oct 00 - 03:41 PM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 03:12 PM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 01:45 PM
Little Hawk 20 Oct 00 - 01:35 PM
Kim C 20 Oct 00 - 01:26 PM
Skeptic 20 Oct 00 - 12:55 PM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 12:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Oct 00 - 07:22 AM
catspaw49 20 Oct 00 - 12:11 AM
Troll 19 Oct 00 - 11:36 PM
Troll 19 Oct 00 - 11:22 PM
Lonesome EJ 19 Oct 00 - 09:58 PM
Little Hawk 19 Oct 00 - 09:31 PM
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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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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


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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...)


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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


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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. :)


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.)


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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. :)


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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.


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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...


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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


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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?


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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


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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?


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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"


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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"


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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


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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.


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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. :)


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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


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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


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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.


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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