"It was a happy trip [from Washington, through Louisville, to Texas in May '65], marred only once on a dinner stop en route. Custer had Eliza sit between him and Libbie at their table, but the proprietor refused to serve her. he would not seat Negroes in his establishment. 'Poor Eliza, her appetite gone, said she was willing to go back to her car but [Custer], quietly but very firmly, insisted. She would stay, and she would be served. Suddenly his entire staff arose and civilians about them did likewise. One of the latter spoke for all: 'General, stand your ground; we'll back you; the woman shall have food.' the proprietor served Eliza her food though she was unable to eat it." - from Lawrence Frost's General Custer's Libbie, in Duane Shultz's Custer.
Last Edit: Jan 6, 2014 12:19:28 GMT -5 by moderator
"One of Custer's men blurted out the sentiments of the entire division. 'The Third Division wouldn't be worth a cent if it wasn't for him!' The press reported that Custer looked embarassed at the outburst, which 'showed that his modesty was equal to his courage.' Generals today have a flock of their own public information officers who monitor their remarks and often control their access to the media. And, as we see from the lack of stories from the current battlefields, the press is seldom on site to report on anything. No general today can be as free and easy with reporters as Custer was - not if he wants to keep his job." - Duane Shultz in Custer: Lessons In Leadership
"The threat from Kirby Smith and his Confederates had ended with this surrender, but now the U.S. Army was preparing to invade Mexico to rid the hemisphere of French troops. Preparations were well along, and Custer was even studying Spanish." - Shultz's Custer
"Custer ordered that any enlisted man who violated the order against foraging would have his head shaved and receive twenty-five lashes on his back with a leather whip. The U.S. Congress had specifically prohibited flogging in the army four years earlier, but that did not stop Custer. The men's resentment, even hatred of him, rose with each crack of the whip. The foraging and stealing from the farmers did decrease sharply, but Custer's troops seethed with anger..."
"The situation became potentially explosive when Custer sentenced two men to death by firing squad. One was a deserter; the other had been charged with mutiny. The alleged muntineer and several other soldiers had signed a petition demanding the resignation of an unpopular officer. Everyone who had signed it was arrested. All but one man apologized. The holdout, a sergeant, refused. The others were released, but the sergeant was sentenced to death."
Custer held a formal ceremony for the execution, blinding the prisoner and standing him beside an open grave. At Custer's order, the squad fired, but they were blanks. The soldier feinted and fell into the hole. Custer had granted him a reprieve.
"It was an exercise in imperial vindictiveness and mental cruelty, and a powerful lesson for all who witnessed it. Custer had demonstrated that his word was not to be trifled with. He would not be intimidated." - Shultz in Custer
"In Austin, Custer frequently visited the nearby Texas State School for the Deaf. He was fascinated by the use of sign language with its delicate movements of hands and fingers. He learned the basics of the technique and later put it to good use out west, when he needed to communicate with Indians." - Shultz's Custer
Dr Quinn had a thing where he fired blanks at some Indians who were to be executed, I had a feeling that it must have had some semblance of reality and it was probably one of the few things they got right (except it wasn't an indian unless he did this on another occasion).
"Sherman arrived the next day. When Custer told him about his meeting with Pawnee Killer, Sherman was angry. He said Custer should not have been so trusting, nor should he have meddled in politics by negotiating with an Indian chief. What Custer should have done, Sherman roared, was taken the chiefs hostage, to force the tribes to come to the fort. Sherman reminded Custer that his job was to fight, not to parley. Then he ordered Custer to go after Pawnee Killer's band and to pursue any other Indians he could find - and shoot them." - Shultz in Custer
"Custer's articles attracted a large following and were considered to be very well written. Libbie noted that 'the General,' which was how she referred to him, 'said to me that it was with difficulty he suppressed a smile when his publisher remarked to him that his writing showed the result of great care and painstaking. The truth was, he dashed off page after page without copying or correcting." - E. Custer, Boots and Saddles, in Shultz's Custer
"Custer was, in judgments handed down than and now, the ideal cavalry general. Cavalry units had to react quickly, to be spontaneous and flexible in their movements. In addition, to make best use of these tactics, decisions had to be taken instantly." - Shultz in Custer: Lessons in Leadership
"Custer had an uncanny ability to process what he saw, what he heard, and what he knew - the intelligence available in a situation - and then make a considered decision in an incredibly short amount of time. He could decide on a split-second course of action that turned out to be the right thing to do at the time." - Jeff Wert in Custer
Men like this sometimes mistakenly think that their subordinates can do the same. - Clair Conzelman, musing to himself
"Custer swallowed whole what the press wrote about him, which may have contributed to his ultimate undoing - a chracteristic that is not uncommon to leaders in every age. He had come to believe in his own invincibility; he personally could do no wrong, and as far as his military leadership was concerned, he saw no need to change what had worked before to fight the new kind of war against the Indians." - Shurtz
A place to study Custer's knowledge of the local environment on the Plains, through his relations with the Indians and local whites, such as:
Not long after Custer settled in, a delegation of Sioux chiefs, led by Pawnee Killer, came to his camp. Custer smoked a pipe with them, gave them gifts of sugar and coffee, and tried to persuade them to move their people close to the fort, where they could live in peace. He told them he was prepared to kill any Indian he found between the Arkansas and Platte rivers. Chief Pawnee Killer assured Custer that he wanted to live in peace with the whites and promised to bring his people to the fort, but he kept pressing Custer to reveal his plans and his intended routes. Custer refused. – Schultz
Theodore Davis accompanied the expedition, along with the scout William Comstock. Born in Michigan, the twenty-five-year-old Comstock had lived with Indians for two years and knew the countryside well. Custer enjoyed his company. He was amused that Comstock had named his dog, Cuss, after Custer. -- Schultz A few days later some Cheyenne murdered Bill Comstock, Custer’s favorite scout, who previously had always been welcome in the camps of the Cheyenne and other tribes. They shot him down on the prairie under the pretext of escorting him and a companion to safety. -- Schultz
The most prominent of the white scouts, and Custer’s current favorite, was Moses Embree Milner, known as “California Joe,” even though he hailed from Kentucky…Because he was fond of California Joe, he kept him around for years but selected the far more sober Ben Clark to be chief scout. -- Schultz
Custer’s scout, Ben Clark, stopped a band of troopers who were preparing to shoot at a group of fleeing women…Custer was also mindful of the events at Sand Creek and hoped to stop the brutal and senseless killing of dependents wherever possible. He did not want attached to his name the kind of shame that would forever be attached to Chivington’s. Early in the attack, when Ben Clark saw troopers shooting at fleeing women and children, he asked Custer if he wanted them all killed. “No,” Custer said. “Ride out there and give the officer commanding my compliments and ask him to stop it. Take them to the village and put them in a big teepee and station a guard around them.” Custer also stopped the actions of the Osage, who had been dragging women by the ankles, then killing and scalping them. – Schultz
On January 26, Custer located the Arapaho camp of Little Raven, Black Kettle’s old friend, who had placed his mark on many peace treaties. Custer had no trouble persuading Little Raven that it was futile to resist the soldiers; the Arapaho village came along with him peacefully. That left the Cheyenne. Custer vowed to bring them in, or to kill them; it was their choice. – Schultz
It took almost two weeks, until March 15, before they found the Cheyenne. The Indians were camped in a large village of some 260 lodges on Sweetwater Creek in Texas. Their major chief was Medicine Arrows …With his usual blend of audacity, bravery, foolhardiness, and blind faith in his phenomenal luck, Custer followed the warriors into the enemy camp. Several hundred well-armed Cheyenne, pained for war, watched the whites with undisguised hostility but parted to let them pass. LT Cooke was taken to one lodge; Custer to another….Custer had won again. He was back at Camp Supply by March 28, where he wrote to Libbie. “I have been successful in my campaign against the Cheyenne. I outmarched them, outwitted them at their own game.” -- Schultz
The question may also arise as to what influence the wild nomadic tribes of the West are most likely to yield and become peaceably inclined toward their white neighbors, willing to forego their accustomed raids and attacks upon the frontier settlements, and content to no longer oppose the advance of civilization. Whether this desirable condition of affairs can be permanently and best secured by the display and exercise of a strong but just military power, or by the extension of the olive-branch on one hand and government annuities on the other, or by a happy combination of both, has long been one of the difficult problems whose solution has baffled the judgment of our legislators from the formation of the government to the present time. My firm conviction, based upon an intimate and thorough analysis of the habits, traits of character and natural instinct of the Indian, and strengthened and supported by the almost unanimous opinion of all persons who have made the Indian problem a study, and have studied it, not from a distance, but in immediate contact with all the facts bearing thereupon, is that the Indian cannot be elevated to that great level where he can be induced to adopt any policy or mode of life varying from those to which he has ever been accustomed by any method of teaching, argument, reasoning, or coaxing which is not preceded and followed closely in reserve by a superior physical force. In other words, the Indian is capable of recognizing no controlling influence but that of stern arbitrary power. – Custer