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For the last 6 months, I've been on an Indian Wars kick, culminating in this book, which I just finished reading for the second time. If you think you have an idea of who Custer was or what the Battle Of The Little Big Horn was, read this to get the up-to-date 411. It's also a great sketch of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and the final clash at Wounded Knee. I think I left my heart there, too. *As with most historical charicatures that we were raised on, the common portrait of Custer as an arrogant, foolhardy leader is a false one that sadly lingers on. At the very least, he should be remembered foremost as a Civil War hero for the North. * The truth is, the battle commonly known as Custer's Last Stand was an Army clusterf*ck of the highest order, that was pinned on a dead man to bury the truth of multiple blunders, from the highest to lowest levels. -Right after the battle of June 25/26, 1876, telegraphs flew between chains of command assigning blame on the dead. Newspapers intercepted these memos and the public never got the whole truth from the first. -No enquiry was made until 3 years later, when Captain Reno was held up to scrutiny. Unfortunately, the brotherhood of arms was stronger than telling the whole truth, and many men lied under oath about what happened. The enquiry findings were then sealed for 75 years. *Libby Custer did a great job of creating a romanticized version of her husband in the public eye until her death, but then paperback authors and Hollywood got ahold of him, and the lines of truth were further blurred. He was either painted as a saint or an unhinged madman. Neither is anywhere close to the truth. *As of 2010, there has been some great scholarship and findings on Custer's life and on this particular battle. Once you take the forensics from the site, extant letters, diaries, private memos and other primary sources and sandwich them in with the accounts of the Sioux and the surviving regiment, you're getting somewhere. *What really blows my mind is how long it sometimes takes to get to some semblance of an accurate historical record. We'll never know 100%, but the quest to get close to it fascinates me.
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