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George Custer

Facts, information and articles about George Custer, a Civil War General during the American Civil War

George Custer Facts


December 5, 1839, New Rumley, Ohio


June 25, 1876, Little Bighorn, Montana

Highest Rank Achieved

Brevet Major General of Volunteers

Battles Engaged

Battle Of Bull Run
Battle Of Antietam
Battle Of Gettysburg
Battle Of Chancellorsville
Battle Of Petersburg
Battle Of The Wilderness
Battle of the Washita
Battle of Little Bighorn


Civil War Cavalry Commander
Indian Wars
Little Big Horn

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George Custer summary: George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer who, after finishing last in his class at West Point, was still called to serve in the union army at the start of the The Civil War. After serving in the American Civil War, he then served in the Indian Wars, meeting his end at the battle of Little Bighorn.

George Custer’s Early Life

Custer was from the first thirteen German immigrant families. They arrived in North America about 1693 from Krefeld and The Rhineland area in Germany. He had older-half siblings, a younger sister and unhealthy brother as well as two healthy younger brothers who served and died with him at Little Bighorn. He had a wide range of nicknames: Autie, Armstrong, Boy General, Iron Butt, Hard Ass, Ringlets.

Much of Custer’s childhood was spent in Monroe, Michigan and he attended college in Hopedale, Ohio. Even without command experience he was one of the Union Army’s youngest generals. He was promoted to general at 23 for daring and because of the people he knew. It was because he was such a young general that he earned the title ‘Boy General.’

He was known to be very fastidious in scouting out an area before any battle, thoroughly gauging enemies and discussing battle tactics, the enemy strength and their weak points. From this information he would come up with the best way to engage in battle. In opposite to this his style for battle was often referred to as foolhardy. 

George Custer In The Civil War

A cavalry commander in the United States Army, Custer fought in both the Indian Wars as well as the Civil War. He was raised in Ohio and Michigan and West Point admitted in 1858. During the Civil War he gained a reputation that was strong because of whom he associated with. The Battle of Bull Run was his first major engagement. He had a temporary promotion to major general but returned to captain at the end of the war. He played an important role at Appomattox and was there when Robert E. Lee surrendered.

General Custer After The Civil War

He left for the west and the Indian Wars after the Civil War. He led the 7th Cavalry in the battle of Washita River. Later, in 1873, he was sent to the Dakota Territory to help protect a railroad survey crew from attacks by the Lakota Indians.  

Battle of Little Bighorn

By 1876, still in the Black Hills, tensions had risen between the United States and the Plains Indian Tribes, leading to a battle on June 25-26 by the Little Bighorn River between Custer’s 7th Cavalry and the Lakota and Cheyenne Tribes led by Crazy Horse and White Bull. Around 500 U.S. soldiers met an estimated 3,500 Indian warriors. All the U.S. troops were killed in what is often referred to as, “Custer’s Last Stand.”


Articles Featuring George Custer From History Net Magazines

Featured Article

George Armstrong Custer: Between Myth and Reality

George Armstrong Custer stalks America’s past with a disturbing presence. His popular image has been painted in the darkest tones — executioner of Confederate prisoners at Front Royal, Virginia; destroyer of homes and barns in the Shenandoah Valley; Indian killer for his attack on a Cheyenne village on the Washita River; and vainglorious fool who led himself and 262 men to their deaths at the Little Bighorn. Historians, novelists and screenwriters have engraved an indelible portrait of Custer upon the nation’s conscience.

However, the popular Custer overshadows, if not belies, the historic Custer. During the Civil War, his exploits and youth earned him the nickname ‘Boy General. He earned a major generalcy when he was 25 years old, the youngest man to hold that rank in the annals of the American military. By the conflict’s end, Custer had become a household name and a Northern hero. Controversy never left him, for he was a flawed and complex man encased in a compelling personality. But the measurement of the man extends beyond Front Royal, Washita and Little Bighorn to Hunterstown, Gettysburg, Yellow Tavern, Haw’s Shop, Tom’s Brook and Appomattox Station.

Born on December 5, 1839, in New Rumley, Ohio, Custer was the oldest surviving child of Emanuel and Maria Kirkpatrick Custer. His parents had been widowed before marrying each other and had lost two infant sons before the birth of their third boy, whom they called Armstrong. As he learned to talk, he garbled his name as Autie, and to his family he would be Autie for the rest of his life. Eventually, three more sons and a daughter were born to the Custers, all of whom survived into adulthood.

From the outset, Autie was special in the family, spoiled by his parents and later worshipped by his siblings. He reveled in mischief. George was a wide awake boy, recalled a schoolmate, full of all kinds of pranks and willing to take all kinds of chances. A teacher described him as irrepressible, while another childhood friend asserted, He was rather a bad boy in school. Autie was bright, but he hated homework, preferring to read novels, biographies and military history. His efforts in school centered upon creating mayhem.

At the age of 10, Autie joined Lydia Ann Reed, his mother’s daughter from her first marriage, in Monroe, Mich. His parents sent him there for schooling, and Monroe became his adopted hometown. He lived with his sister and brother-in-law for six years before accepting a teaching position in Ohio. He failed miserably, however, in various assignments. An acquaintance at the time remembered: Custer was what he appeared. There was nothing hidden in his nature. He was kind and generous to his friends; bitter and implacable towards his enemies.

It seemed, however, that fate or circumstances conspired at timely moments to favor Custer. He had aspired to an appointment to West Point, but his father was a staunch Democrat in the congressional district of Republican John A. Bingham. Custer, meanwhile, had begun a fervid courtship of Mary Jane, or Mollie, Holland. Her father discovered a note to her from Custer that mentioned a rendezvous on a trundle bed. Determined to rid the family of Mollie’s suitor, it would appear that Holland requested of Bingham — an old friend — that Custer be given the West Point appointment. Others may also have interceded with the congressman, who ended up nominating the 17-year-old Custer.
After George Custer’s death in 1876, his wife Libbie would dedicate her life to preserving, if not embellishing, the memory of his military exploits. (U.S. Army)

Custer entered the U.S. Military Academy in June 1857, a member of the class of 1862. His cadetship remains renowned in the institution’s history. As he had as a boy, Custer tested boundaries and rules. In four years, he amassed a total of 726 demerits, one of the worst conduct records in the academy’s annals. He told a fellow cadet that there were only two places in a class, head and foot, and since he had no desire to be the head, he aspired to be the foot. A roommate noted, It was all right with him whether he knew his lesson or not: he did not allow it to trouble him.

Like their fellow Americans, the cadets divided by region over the events of the 1850s. With the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 and the secession of states, Southern cadets began leaving the academy in the winter and spring of 1861. The firing on Fort Sumter increased the number of resignations. Ironically for Custer, all his roommates except one had been Southerners.

The advent of war forced academy officials to graduate the class of 1861 in May. But with the demand for trained officers, the War Department compressed the class of 1862’s final year into six weeks. The second class of 1861 was graduated on June 24, with Custer ranking last among the 34 members. He would be the final member to be assigned to a command, his departure delayed by his court-martial for another infraction. Weeks prior to his graduation, he had written to his sister, If it is my lot to fall in the defence of my country’s rights, I will lay down my life as freely as if I had a thousand lives at my disposal. On July 18, Custer left West Point.

Second Lieutenant Custer arrived in Washington, D.C., two days later. By happenstance or good fortune, he secured one of the last, if not the last, available government horses in the capital and carried War Department dispatches to Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell at Centreville, Va. Assigned to Company G, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, Custer reached his regiment in time to participate in the First Battle of Bull Run. His regiment covered the retreat of the routed Federals. One trooper later wrote, Though famished, exhausted, spent, Custer never let up, never slackened control.

For nearly the next two years, Custer served in various staff assignments, rising to the rank of brevet captain. He gained a reputation for fearlessness, if not recklessness. He ascended in a balloon to survey Confederate works, led reconnaissance parties and was cited for gallant and spirited conduct. By the end of May 1862, Custer had joined the staff of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, serving under the Army of the Potomac commander during the Seven Days and Antietam campaigns. When McClellan was relieved of command in November, Custer accompanied the general and later assisted in the preparation of McClellan’s reports.

Custer had written a revealing letter to a cousin on October 3, 1862, after he witnessed the terrible carnage of Antietam. You ask me if I will not be glad when the last battle is fought, he stated, so far as the country is concerned I, of course, must wish for peace, and will be glad when the war is ended, but if I answer for myself alone, I must say that I shall regret to see the war end. I would be willing, yes glad, to see a battle every day during my life. Now do not misunderstand me. I speak only of my own interests and desires…but as I said before, when I think of the pain & misery produced to individuals as well as the miserable sorrow caused throughout the land I cannot but earnestly hope for peace, and at an early date.

Since youth, Custer had read stories of past warriors and had dreamed of martial glory. While he understood war’s fearful costs, he saw in it an opportunity for personal fame and advancement. His ambition was inordinate, and perhaps it impelled his fearlessness. Although he assured his family that he would not risk his life, Custer led men from the front, whether in command of a company or later of a division. Combat inflamed his soul and held incalculable opportunity for glory. Devoted to the Union cause, Custer saw the conflict as a trumpet calling.

His coveted opportunity came in June 1863, when Lincoln replaced Joseph Hooker as army commander with George G. Meade. The president granted Meade authority to replace any officers he chose. Cavalry Corps commander Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton recommended to Meade the promotion of three of his staff officers — Custer, Wesley Merritt and Elon Farnsworth — to brigadiers. On June 29 Custer received a general’s star and command of the Michigan Brigade of cavalry, comprising the 1st, 5th, 6th and 7th regiments. At 23, he was the youngest general in the Union Army.
Starting with the Overland campaign in the spring of 1864, Custer (seated, far right) served under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan (far left), along with (from left) Colonel George Forsyth, Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt and Brig. Gen. Thomas Devin. (Library of Congress)

On the day of his promotion, Custer joined two of his regiments as the army marched north into Pennsylvania. To the Michiganders, he was a sight to behold. He wore a uniform of black velveteen, with gold lace that extended from his wrist to his elbow, a wide-collared blue sailor shirt with silver stars sewn on and a red necktie around his throat. He had apparently had the uniform made by a tailor at an earlier date. Custer said later that he wanted a distinctive uniform so his men could see him during combat. Superior officers and newspapermen could also see such striking attire, unlike any other in the army.

Whatever doubts the Michiganders had about their new brigadier, Custer removed them within days. At Hanover, Pa., on June 30, he directed them in dismounted fighting. Two days later, at Hunterstown, he personally led a company in an attack down a narrow road, and his horse was killed under him. Custer had been deploying skirmishers to test the Confederate position and numbers when his superior, Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, ordered the mounted charge. When Custer rode to the front of the company, he evidently wanted to demonstrate his personal bravery to the men.

The renown that he had sought for so long came a day later, on the John Rummel farm east of Gettysburg. In an engagement with Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s Confederate horsemen, Custer led the 7th Michigan and then the 1st Michigan in mounted counterattacks. Riding in the van of each regiment, Custer shouted to the men, Come on, you Wolverines! The charges blunted Stuart’s thrusts, and the Yankees held the field.

During the Southern retreat from Gettysburg, clashes occurred almost daily between the mounted opponents. Custer’s Wolverines were often in the forefront of the action. On July 14, at Falling Waters, Md., Custer encountered the final contingent of the Confederate army as it prepared to cross the Potomac River. As he had done at Hunterstown, Custer deployed dismounted skirmishers. But Kilpatrick joined him and without knowledge of the enemy’s strength or disposition ordered a mounted assault. Two companies of the 6th Michigan ascended a ridge and plunged into the Rebel works, held by infantrymen. In the ensuing melee, the Federals lost more than half their numbers and were routed. It had not been Custer who had acted rashly, but Kilpatrick.

After Gettysburg, a lieutenant in the 6th Michigan claimed: The command perfectly idolized Custer. The old Michigan Brigade adored its Brigadier, and all felt as if he weighed about a ton. A private declared that Custer had put the very devil into the regiments. They had called him at first the boy General of the Golden Lock. But he had shown them, in the estimation of one Wolverine, that he was not afraid to fight like a private soldier…and that he was ever in front and would never ask them to go where he would not lead. An officer told his mother in a letter, It is an honor to belong to Mich Cavalry.
Never camera-shy, Captain Custer posed for photographer James F. Gibson in 1862 with Confederate prisoner Lieutenant James B. Washington and his slave at Fair Oaks, Va. (Library of Congress).

Praise for Custer’s bearing and leadership in action continued during the numerous cavalry clashes in the summer and fall. A captain in the 2nd New York Cavalry, after seeing Custer in an engagement, later said: It seemed to be the general impression that he would not have the nerve to `Face the music’ with his bandbox equipment, but he soon proved himself equal to the occasion….No soldier who saw him on that day…ever questioned his right to wear a star, or all the gold lace he felt inclined to wear. One of his aides confided in a letter: To say that General Custer is a brave man is unnecessary. He has proved himself to be not only that but also a very cool and self possessed man. It is indeed difficult to disturb his mental Equilibrium. A Michigander put it bluntly to his wife, He is a very odd man but he understand his business.

Custer’s emergence as an outstanding brigade commander coincided with the increasing prowess of the Federal mounted arm. He, Merritt and others brought aggressiveness to Federal cavalry tactics. Jeb Stuart’s vaunted Confederate horsemen, plagued by shortages of men and mounts, no longer dominated the battlefields. Union troopers had achieved parity, which eventually became superiority. The troopers’ confidence in Custer reflected a confidence in themselves.

In February 1864, Custer secured a leave, returning to Monroe for his wedding. For much of the previous year, he and Elizabeth Libbie Bacon had conducted a clandestine courtship through letters. Her father, Judge Daniel Bacon, had vehemently objected to Custer’s attentions toward Libbie. By the fall of 1863, however, Judge Bacon had relented to her wishes, and on February 9, 1864, the couple was married. Autie and Libbie’s marriage was one of love and passion. After Custer’s death, Libbie devoted her remaining 57 years to molding and guarding his image as an American hero.

Custer and Libbie enjoyed a honeymoon and another extended leave together before he rejoined the army for its spring operations. By then, General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant had appointed Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan as commander of the army’s Cavalry Corps. Thirty-three years old, Sheridan was a barrel-chested man with unusually short legs. Lincoln wryly described him as a brown, chunky little chap, with a long body, short legs, not enough neck to hang him, and such long arms that if his ankles itch he can scratch them without stooping. His men called him Little Phil.

Sheridan possessed, however, a combativeness that Grant wanted instilled into the mounted arm. With Sheridan’s appointment, additional leadership changes occurred, and Custer believed that he himself deserved promotion to division command. Although disappointed, Custer told his sister, Gen Sheridan from what I learn and see is an able and good commander and I like him very much. In time, Custer became more closely identified with Sheridan than any other officer in the Cavalry Corps. Their personal and professional relationship was destined to endure until Little Bighorn.

As the Michiganders prepared for the forthcoming campaign, their writings revealed their abiding respect for and devotion to Custer. They now called him Old Curley for his long, flowing blond hair. We swear by him, asserted Major James H. Kidd of Custer in a letter to his father. His move is our battle cry. He can get twice the fight out of this brigade than any other man can possibly do. A member of the 5th Michigan Cavalry believed that he is the best cavalry officer left in the Army of the Potomac. Another officer in the brigade explained: His men were always at the front, and were always on the best of terms with him. A private could talk to him as freely as an officer. If he had any complaint to make, Custer was always ready to listen.

During the Overland campaign in May-June 1864, under the leadership of Custer and his regimental commanders, the Michiganders — fighting mounted and dismounted — showed time and again that they were arguably the finest cavalry brigade in the Union Army. On May 11 at Yellow Tavern, a Wolverine mortally wounded Jeb Stuart. Seventeen days later at Haw’s Shop, the brigade routed a Confederate force. Writing after the engagement, Major Kidd declared: For all this Brigade has accomplished all praise is due to Gen Custer. So brave a man I never saw and as competent as brave. Under him a man is ashamed to be cowardly. Under him our men can achieve wonders.

A fierce test came for the Michiganders on June 11 at Trevilian Station. When the 5th Michigan surged ahead into a Rebel wagon train, Southern horsemen counterattacked. Custer hurried forward the rest of the brigade as additional Confederate regiments charged. The Federals were trapped on the inside of a living triangle, according to a scout from Merritt’s division who witnessed the fight from a distance. For three hours the Wolverines repulsed enemy attacks from three directions. Custer was everywhere present, recalled Kidd, giving directions to his subordinate commanders. Finally, their comrades in the other brigades punched through the Rebel lines and relieved the Michiganders.

The Confederates had captured 309 members of the Michigan Brigade and Custer’s headquarters wagon, which contained his personal belongings and letters from Libbie. A Richmond newspaper received the letters and published them, embarrassing the Custers. At the campaign’s end, the War Department promoted Custer to a brevet lieutenant colonel in the Regular Army. Custer, one of Sheridan’s aides contended, was a man of boundless confidence in himself and great faith in his lucky star.

In August Grant assigned Sheridan to command of the Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley. By midmonth, two cavalry divisions from the Army of the Potomac, including the Michigan Brigade, joined the command in the region. Sheridan’s Federals opposed Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley in a campaign that resulted in four Union battlefield victories and the destruction of hundreds of barns, mills and stockpiles of supplies and foodstuffs.

Custer distinguished himself throughout the operations. On September 26, with the transfer of Brig. Gen. James Harrison Wilson to the West, Custer assumed command of the 3rd Cavalry Division. His successor in command of the Michigan Brigade stated in his report that with Custer’s promotion the four regiments suffered the most severe loss of the campaign. A Vermonter in the division claimed that its members welcomed the change, though they knew it meant mounted charges, instead of dismounted skirmishes, and a foremost place in every fight.

Custer led the division in the cavalry engagement at Tom’s Brook and in the Battle of Cedar Creek. At 25 he was promoted to brevet major general, to date from Cedar Creek, October 19. In a ceremony at the War Department, Custer and a detail of troopers presented captured battle flags to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. One of the cavalrymen told Stanton, the 3rd Division wouldn’t be worth a cent if it wasn’t for [Custer].

Sheridan and the two cavalry divisions spent the winter of 1865 in the Shenandoah Valley before marching south in late February. On March 2 at Waynesborough, the 3rd Cavalry Division routed the remnants of Early’s Army of the Valley. By the end of the month, Sheridan’s command had rejoined the Army of the Potomac at Petersburg. When the Federals broke through General Robert E. Lee’s defensive works on April 2, the Union cavalry led the pursuit of Lee’s retreating army. It was Custer’s men on the evening of April 8 who interdicted the Confederate flight at Appomattox Station and cut off the Rebel army’s retreat route. During that final week, Custer’s men captured more than 30 enemy flags. His brother, Tom, seized a pair and received two Medals of Honor.

The end came at Appomattox on April 9. During a truce between the armies, before Grant and Lee met, Custer rode into the Confederate lines and demanded the surrender of the army from Lee’s senior officer, James Longstreet. It was a brazen act, and Longstreet evidently berated the young Union general. After the surrender ceremony, however, Sheridan confiscated the table Grant had used and had it delivered to Libbie Custer. In an accompanying note, Sheridan wrote in part, permit me to say, Madam, that there is scarcely an individual in our service who has contributed more to bring about this desirable result than your gallant husband.

On May 23, the Army of the Potomac marched through the streets of Washington in the Grand Review. Earlier in the morning as Custer joined his command, every member of the 3rd Cavalry Division was wearing a red necktie in his honor. The Michigan Brigade had adopted it as its badge, and now so had the 3rd Division. During the review, a woman stepped from the crowd and tossed a wreath of flowers and evergreens at Custer. His horse bolted toward the reviewing stand, and he lost his sword and hat. Whether deliberately or not, Custer had dramatically seized the moment.

Sheridan later wrote of Custer, If there ever was poetry or romance in war, he could develop it. He was perhaps the Civil War’s last knight. He had dreamed of glory and had found it in the terrible confines of combat. The words of the men he led testified to his abilities, bravery and leadership. He had been a superb cavalry commander. But ahead of him lay a rendezvous on a Montana ridge that has darkened his achievements as the Union’s Boy General. He craved greatness for himself, and this ambition earned him immortality.



This article was written by Jeffry D. Wert and originally published in the March/April 2006 issue of Civil War Times Magazine. For more great articles, be sure to subscribe to Civil War Times magazine today!

Articles 2

Brulé Sioux Chief Spotted TailSpotted Tail, chief of the Brulés, fought well, but his diplomatic skills were even better.
America’s Civil War: Images of Peace at AppomattoxEvery picture tells a different story about Lee's surrender.
Battle at Sand Creek: The Military Perspective (Book Review)Reviewed by Alexander CookBy Gregory F. MichnoUpton and Sons, El Segundo, Calif., 2004 If you want to read another retelling of the Sand Creek tale (traditionally referred to as a “massacre”) in which the blood-thirsty Coloradoans led by Colonel John Chivington did the peaceful Cheyennes in Black Kettle’s village an immoral wrong, then this is …
The 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment Fought in the Battle of the Little BighornAmong the troopers advancing with Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer on the Little Bighorn in June 1876 were 1st Lt. Charles DeRudio and Privates John Martin and Augustus De Voto.
Frederick W. BenteenBenteen, though he displayed daring and audacity during his military career, would probably not be remembered today if not for his supporting role at the Little Bighorn more than 125 years ago.
Battle of Little Bighorn CoverupConcerned that the Indians in the village would escape, George Armstrong Custer ordered his force forward to the attack. Did Reno and Benteen try to hide the true nature of the attack?
Battle of Little Bighorn: Were the Weapons the Deciding FactorGeorge A. Custer's 7th Cavalry had Springfield carbines and Colt .45 revolvers; the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians had a variety of long arms, including repeaters. But were the weapons used on June 25, 1876, the deciding factor in the famous battle?
America’s Civil War Comes to West PointThough the Corps of Cadets was forced apart by political differences in 1860-61, and passions grew intense, there were more tears than hurrahs among the Northerners when their Southern friends resigned. The last institution to divide, the Academy was one of the first to reunite.
The Last Stand of Crazy HorseAfter helping his people win the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the daring Oglala leader fought thesoldiers again at Slim Buttes in September 1876 and the Wolf Mountains in January 1877 before finally surrendering at Camp Robinson that May.
African American Troops of Company K, 9th Cavalry Fought in the Battle of Fort LancasterCaptain William Frohock, Lieutenant Frederick Smith and the black troopers of Company K, 9th Cavalry, received an after-Christmas surprise from Kickapoo raiders in 1867.
Lakotas: Feared Fighters of the PlainsThe Teton Sioux, or Lakotas, battled other tribes to become the dominant force on the Northern Plains and then took on the U.S. Army in an effort to maintain their way of life.
America’s Civil War: George Custer and Stephen RamseurGeorge Custer and Dodson Ramseur had a friendship that survived the Civil War -- until the Battle of Cedar Creek.
America’s Civil War: Union General Phil Sheridan’s ScoutsCivil War Union General Phil Sheridan put together a group of daring scouts who wore Rebel uniforms and captured Confederate irregulars, dispatches and generals.
America’s Civil War: John Mosby and George Custer Clash in the Shenandoah ValleyWhen Civil War's John Singleton Mosby's Partisan Rangers clashed with George A. Custer's Union Cavalry, the niceties of war were the first casualty. Reprisal and counter reprisal became the order of the day.
Cheyenne Chief Tall BullTall Bull led the Dog Soldiers in battle, but his death at Summit Springs ended Southern Cheyenne power.
The Dodge City WarWhen saloon owner Luke Short was told to get out of Dodge in 1883, he went. But he soon came back, and he was joined by the likes of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday.
Wild Bill HickokIn the wild west, few men could match colorful Wild Bill, whose exploits as a well-dressed but deadly frontiersman, peace officer and gambler have made him an enduring legend.
Death at Summit Springs: Susanna Alderdice and the CheyennesIn May 1869, Tall Bull's Cheyenne Dog Soldiers carried out a series of brutal raids in north-central Kansas, and though the white soldiers later caught up with them, vengeance could not make everything right.
Tecumseh, Red Cloud and Sitting Bull: Three Great Indian LeadersDiplomacy, courage and charisma were among the attributes of this trio of great Indian leaders.
George Crook: Indian FighterAgainst the Apaches in Arizona Territory and the Sioux and Cheyenne in the northern Plains, Crook did his job more effectively than most Army leaders on the Plains.
Nez Perce WarWhen a white settler killed a Nez Perce warrior in 1876, the incident set off a chain of events that led to war.
Philip Wells: Wounded at Wounded KneeThe son of a white father and a half-blood mother, Wells nearly lost his nose in the tragic 1890 affair but still managed to be merciful.
Wild Bill Hickok: Pistoleer, Peace Officer and Folk HeroA legend in his own time,James Butler ('Wild Bill') Hickok was no average Joe when he went head-to-head with his enemies--he reportedly could 'draw and discharge his pistols with a rapidity that was truly wonderful.'
Buffalo Soldiers in Utah TerritoryAt Fort Duchesne, black 9th Cavalry troops served alongside white infantrymen while dealing with the sometimes restless Ute Indians and the wild and woolly Duchesne Strip.
The Fatal Fetterman FightCalled a massacre at the time, the December 1866 clash near Fort Phil Kearny was, in fact, a military triumph by the Plains Indians and the Army's greatest blunder in the West until the Battle of the Little Bighorn 10 years later.

Articles 3

Book Review: Custer, Cody & The Last Indian Wars: A Pictorial History (Jay Kimmel) : WWCUSTER, CODY & THE LAST INDIAN WARS: A PICTORIAL HISTORYTwo of the most famous figures of the Old West, George Armstrong Custer and William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody, were alsotwo of the most photographed individuals of their time. So if you want to do a Western pictorial history, those are two goodchoices to be your …
Book Review: Little Big Horn Trading Cards (Martin G. Lord) : WWLITTLE BIG HORN TRADING CARDSI can just see it now: Two kids from Hardin, Mont.–or New Rumley, Ohio, for that matter–are doing some card trading. Firstkid: “I’ll give you a Captain Frederick Benteen, a Lieutenant J.J. Crittenden and a Private Giovanni Martini for a Sitting Bulland a Gall.” Second kid: “No way, man. That’s a …
Book Review: Men With Custer: Biographies of the 7th Cavalry (Kenneth Hammer with Ronald H. Nichols) : WWMEN WITH CUSTER: BIOGRAPHIES OF THE 7TH CAVALRYWhen it comes to the Little Bighorn, far more ink than blood has been spilled. How and when some 210 soldiers under George Armstrong Custer’s direct command died remains a mystery because there were no acknowledged survivors. This is a book about his men, not their battle, and …
Book Review: A Dispatch to Custer (Randy Johnson and Nancy Allan) : WWA Dispatch to Custer: The Tragedy of Lieutenant Kidder, by Randy Johnson and Nancy Allan,Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula, Mont., 1999, $15 paperback. The mission seemed simple enough. Lieutenant Lyman Kidder, with 10 soldiers and a friendly Siouxguide, was to take a message that General William T. Sherman had received at Fort Sedgwick, Kan.,and deliver …
Book Review: Legends and Lies: Great Mysteries of the American West (Dale L. Walker): WWLegends and Lies: Great Mysteries of the American West, by Dale L. Walker, Forge Books, New York, 1997, $22.95. When we read history, we like to believe we are reading truth. But as Dale Walker so adroitly points out, individuals as well as history can become masses of contradictions. Truth and facts become blurred. Walker’s …
Book Review: A Frontier Army Christmas (compiled and annotated by Lori A. Cox-Paul and Dr. James W. Wengert) : WWA Frontier Army Christmas, compiled and annotated by Lori A. Cox-Paul and Dr. James W. Wengert, Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, 1998, $12.95 paperback. Christmas on Army posts between 1865 and 1900 often brought the only real relief from the monotony of soldiers’ lives. The firsthand accounts, collected from diaries, letters and other sources, offer …
Book Review: Little Big Horn (Robert Nightengale) : WWLITTLE BIG HORN“The easiest way to start an argument is to bring up religion, politics, or Custer’s Last Stand,” writes longtime Custerania student Thomas E. O’Neil in his introduction to a book that, if it doesn’t start arguments, will surely cause readers to rethink the “facts” of the battle. Robert Nightengale says that George Armstrong …
Book Review: The Great West: A Treasury of Firsthand Accounts (Charles Neider) : WWThe Great West: A Treasury of Firsthand Accounts, edited by Charles Neider, Da Capo Press, New York, 1997, $22.95 paperback. The almost 60 accounts and nearly 100 black-and-white illustrations selected by editor Charles Neider fill 457 pages–enough to give the reader a great taste of the Great West. How can you go wrong when your …
Book Review: Lakota: An Illustrated History ( Sergio Macedo) : WWLakota: An Illustrated History, by Sergio Macedo, Treasure Chest Books, Tucson, Ariz., 1996,$18.95. The Lakota, or Teton Sioux, were prominent in the Indian wars, with such leaders as Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, and their courageous deeds as warriors certainly look splendid in the beautiful illustrations that fill this all-color 56-page book. Brazil-born …
Book Review: Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends (by Allen Barra) : WW‘Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends, by Allen Barra, Carroll & Graf, New York, 1998, $27. On the heels of Casey Tefertiller’s big (403 pages to be exact) 1997 biography Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend comes another big book (426 pages) about the well-known frontiersman. Some readers might cry, “Why Wyatt …
Book Review: Custer: The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer (Jeffry D. Wert.) : WWCuster: The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer, by Jeffry D. Wert, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1996, $27.50 hardback. Will the real George Armstrong Custer please stand up? The man who died in a “Last Stand” at the Little Bighorn on June 25,1876, has had his performance that day examined, interpreted and judged in …
Book Review: Best of the Wild West (Cowles HIstory Group) : WWBest of the Wild Westfrom the publisher of Wild West Magazine, CowlesHistory Group, Leesburg, Va., 1996, $16.95 hardback. Wild West the magazine is plenty colorful for three reasons. First, it chronicles a frontier full of exciting characters. Second, it displays some splendid Western artwork, color maps and other color images among its many illustrations. Third, …
Book Review: Little Bighorn Remembered: The Untold Indian Story of Custer’s Last Stand (by Herman J. Viola) : WWLittle Bighorn Remembered: The Untold Indian Story of Custer’s Last Stand, by Herman J. Viola, Times Books (a division of Random House), New York, 1999, $45. Indian accounts of the Battle of the Little Bighorn are fascinating and add much to the wealth of knowledge about George Armstrong Custer’s shocking defeat on June 25, 1876, …
Book Review: Legacy: New Perspectives on the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Charles E. Rankin) : WWLegacy: New Perspectives on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, edited by Charles E. Rankin, Montana Historical Society Press, Helena, 1996, $45 cloth, $19.95 paper. For readers who can’t get enough of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, this 382-page book (with 58 illustrations, including 10 in color) is bound to please. But it also …
Book Review: The Black Infantry in the West (Arlen L. Fowler) : WWThe Black Infantry in the West, 1869-1891, by Arlen L. Fowler, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1996, $12.95 paperback. Arlen Fowler’s interest in the “buffalo soldiers” grew out of his 1952 assignment as a white officer in the 25th Armored Infantry Battalion, the last remnant of the all black 25th Infantry Regiment. Fowler became a …
Book Review: Lakota and Cheyenne: Indian Views of the Great Sioux War, 1876-1877 (Jerome A. Greene) : WWLAKOTA AND CHEYENNE: INDIAN VIEWS OF THE GREAT SIOUX WAR, 1876-1877THE BATTLE OF the Little Bighorn and the annihilation of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his command inJune 1876 has been recounted in numerous books, articles and motion pictures. Bracketing the famous battle, however, werenumerous skirmishes and encounters between the Plains Indians and United …
Book Review: To Hell With Honor (Larry Sklenar) : WWTo Hell With Honor: Custer and the Little Bighorn, by Larry Sklenar, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2000, $29.95. Almost 125 years since George Armstrong Custer and members of his 7th Cavalry were hurtled intoeternity and mythology, the Battle of the Little Bighorn of July 25, 1876, remains one of the mostpopular subjects among Western …
Book Review: Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn: An Encyclopedia (Thom Hatch) : WWCuster and the Battle of the Little Bighorn: An Encyclopedia, by Thom Hatch, McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, N.C., 1997, $45 hardback. If all the different published perspectives on the Little Bighorn were stacked up under the big sky of Montana, would the resulting tower dwarf Custer Hill? Yes, we contend, though others would no …
Book Review: Crazy Horse: The Life Behind the Legend (Mike Sajna) : WWCrazy Horse: The Life Behind the Legend, by Mike Sajna, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2000, $27.95. He was quiet, shy, and avoided attention off the battlefield, but on it, he was bold, brave and successful–as William Fetterman, George Crook, George Custer and many other U.S. soldiers found out in the 1860s-70s. His name …
Book Review: The Dahlgren Affair: Terror and Conspiracy in the Civil War (By Duane Schultz) : ACWJudson Kilpatrick’s failed raid on Richmond opened the way for a new and decidedly nasty kind of warfare. By Phil Noblitt In the winter of 1864, Union cavalry commander Hugh Judson Kilpatrick visited the White House to propose a daring raid on Richmond, Virginia. Well-placed and reliable Union spies had sent word that the Rebel …
The death of Wilhautyah: December ’98 American History FeatureThe death of Wilhautyah When a white settler killed a Nez Perce warrior in 1876, the incident set off a chain of events that led to war. By Mark Highberger From across a freezing Montana battlefield on October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce rode into the camp of U.S. Army Colonel Nelson …

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