So, you’ve probably heard of Custer… some western movie somewhere? No idea? Well, you need to know who he is – because he’s often a focus for an exam question. Ready to learn all about Custer, his successes, and his failings? Then here we go…
George Armstrong Custer, born in 1839, eventually became regarded for his “heroic” death at the Battle of Little Bighorn, when he led his regiment, the Seventh Cavalry, to attack the Indian troops stationed at Little Bighorn, as he was ordered. However, seeking glory, Custer ignored his orders, went straight through the Wolf Mountains instead of circling them, and arrived a day early at Little Bighorn by pushing his men and his horses hard. The Indians were not expecting an attack, but Custer’s men and horses were exhausted.
One of Custer’s main failings in his attack of the Indians, was underestimating their numbers, and their resolve. Estimates placed the number of Indians at around 800, when in fact there were nearly 2000, and, as the Indians only normally thought in small raids, Custer didn’t think that they would fight a true pitched battle against him – but they did, as a result of their resolve to fight.
At the aftermath of The Battle of Little Bighorn, the only survivor of the 260 men Custer had taken with him to attack the Indians, was Curley, a Crow Indian scout who disguised himself to escape. Custer had led his men into a slaughter in pursuit of glory – probably his greatest failing.
Throughout his life, other people had said that Custer was often unkind to his men, thought only of personal glory.
You may be asked to judge whether Custer was a hero or not – arguably, he could have been considered one for his supposedly heroic death at Little Bighorn, or for finding gold in the Black Hills, or even for originally being the youngest General ever in the US Army – so be sure to remember these things, if you are asked whether he was a hero, as you need to have a balanced answer (showing both sides of the argument) to get the top marks.
And that’s about it for Custer! We’ll cover the Battle of Little Bighorn in another article, so don’t worry about that. If you have any questions, post a comment. Hope this helped!