‘George Armstrong Custer’ Book Review: Another Look at the Imperfect ‘Boy General’


George Armstrong Custer: A Navy Life, by Sandy Barnard, South Dakota Historic Society Press, Pierre, 2021, $14.95

Why one other George Custer biography? To creator Sandy Barnard the reply is evident: “Custer’s demise and defeat at Little Bighorn assured that he would ceaselessly stay greater than a footnote in America’s navy legacy.” The retired professor of journalism is properly certified to inform the story of this controversial soldier and does so in a fascinating method. A part of the South Dakota Biography Collection, this transient bio offers needed historic background after which correctly sticks to the topic with out detailed diversions on the Civil Conflict or the Plains Indian wars.

The navy portrait Barnard deftly paints is that of two totally different troopers. First is the aggressive, brave and largely profitable Union cavalry chief, who performed, for instance, a crucial function on East Cavalry Area at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Civil Conflict’s finish posed a problem to the previous basic, for whom civilian life was unlikely. The creator asserts the previous “Boy Basic” sought to reinvent himself throughout the confines of a reorganized Common Military tasked with guarding the frontier and imposing Reconstruction within the South. However Custer’s literary prowess and self-promotion, the accomplishments of his second navy profession had been at greatest blended, given, for instance, his few Indian fights and 1867–68 suspension from obligation.

Opposite to in style movie and fiction, Indian campaigns didn’t devour all of Custer’s power and efforts after his task to the West. When stationed in Kentucky on Reconstruction obligation, for instance, “he took go away for seven months to dabble in investments, hobnob with the wealthy and well-known and talk about politics, largely to no private benefit.” The creator portrays a much more complicated determine than the controversial Indian fighter who died on the Little Bighorn.

The ebook’s clear, concise overview of Custer’s final marketing campaign and his legacy accurately underscores the Military’s strategic miscalculations in the course of the Sioux Conflict of 1876 and the Plains Indian wars typically. The navy incorrectly “believed the Indians would at all times flee within the face of an armed power attacking their village.”

George Custer, Barnard concludes, “was an imperfect man requested to tackle harmful challenges on the nation’s battlefields.” That may be a honest evaluation. Nevertheless, one may query if he was “no extra bloodthirsty, if in any respect, than most American military officers who served alongside him within the Civil Conflict, in addition to these in subsequent American wars.” Barnard’s ebook is a pleasure to learn if for no different cause than for example of efficient historic biography. The creator tells an fascinating story.

—C. Lee Noyes

A Navy Life

By Sandy Barnard

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