Talk:George Armstrong Custer/Archive 1

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Rank?

"He was first lieutenant in the 8th cavalry when he fell with his brother at the Little Big Horn." I'm not a specialist in American ranks, but I think a lieutenant is less than a General. --Braunbaer 19:46 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)

That's Tom Custer who was the lieutenant. - Hephaestos 19:49 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)
http://www.linecamp.com/museums/americanwest/western_names/custer_george_armstrong/custer_george_armstrong.html and
http://www.nps.gov/libi/custer.html indicate he (not his brother) does as "lieutenant colonel". --Braunbaer 20:15 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Right, he was a lieutenant colonel at Little Big Horn. He had previously been a general during the American Civil War, but lost rank due to reduction in service after the war. - Hephaestos 22:00 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Actually, the 'General' was a brevet rank, non-official. It's a bit hard to explain nowadays, but through the Civil War officers could receive 'brevet' promotions for meritorious service or special acheivements. After the conflict, because they had basically 'jumped the ranks' for the emergency, the brevet was rescended and the officer went back to his original place in the promotion order, but Custom had it that he continued to be introduced by the higher rank in social circles. If I recall correctly, the brevet promotions were dropped by World War 1. Custer was court-martialed in 1867 for later actions (disobeying orders, AWOL but basicaly deserting his command). CFLeon 23:05, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
No, Custer was appointed brigadier general of volunteers in June 1863, brevet major general USV in October 1864, brevet major general USA (regular army) in March 1865 and major general USV in April 1865. Brevet was an honorary promotion, as you say, that was replaced in the 20th century by awarding medals rather than pretend ranks. So he was a real major general by the end of the war, but as with all USV ranks, he reverted to a lower USA rank, in this case lieutenant colonel of the 7th U.S. Cavalry in July 1866. Hal Jespersen 01:15, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Tom Custer was a captain at the time of his death, having been promoted to that rank in December 1875 (see: http://www.medalofhonor.com/ThomasCuster.htm)

Is there anyone who can explain to me how Custer went from the rank of lieutenant to Brigadier General without ever passing grade or having a field command? I know he was on General Plesentons staff and through him Custer was given command of the Michigan Brigade, but to by-pass officers of higher rank!? Rytter —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ryttar (talkcontribs) 20:32, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, I'll give it a try until someone with more academic cred (and sources) steps in. The short version is that the rather egocentric and recently-promoted commander of the cavalry wing of the Army of the Potomac, Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, wanted both to get firm control of his brigade commanders and secure for himself political advantage, so he promoted GAC, Elon Farnsworth, Wesley Merritt, and I believe one other from captaincies to brevet brigade officer status. The common denominators among these three were that they were young, impetuous, ambitious, and to one degree or another skilled in some element of cavalry tactics, Merritt frequently cited as being the best of them. Custer was high profile, fairly well-known from newspaper articles that featured his dashing courage (to the point of recklessness) and undisputed flamboyance.
Pleasanton was trying to shake up the cavalry and Army/Potomac with a dramatic gesture in the weeks following the Union debacle at Chancellorsville. He wanted officers who were daring like Custer and not plodding like McClellan.
As far as how he did it - this was not the modern US Army of promotion lists and seniority. Battlefield and drumhead commissions were extremely common in the Civil War. Pleasanton was persuasive enough - and Congress and Lincoln desperate enough - to approve Pleasanton's choices - again in part because these three young captains had established some reputation for boldness and success. Sensei48 (talk) 22:39, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
A few minor corrections to your explanation. There were three promotions, not four. Custer was technically a lieutenant before his promotion. And the three promotions were not brevets, they were full promotions to brigadier general, USV (which is not the same as USA, or regular army, but still more legitimate than brevets). Hal Jespersen (talk) 03:34, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, Mr. J - my misunderstanding was based on GAC's eventual brevet rank of Major General of Volunteers and the caption under the fourth picture in the right hand margin of the article, which shows GAC with Pleasanton and identifies the former as a captain. Sensei48 (talk) 07:47, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Custer was a temporary captain while he was on McClellan's staff, but when Mac left the Army of the Potomac Custer reverted to his rank of first lieutenant. It's unclear whether the photo caption is correct or when it was taken. Hal Jespersen (talk) 13:28, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for the explanation. Was the practice of Leap Froging Ranks common in both armies? Rytter Nov. 27, 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ryttar (talkcontribs) 20:57, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

There were certainly a lot of cases of lower ranking guys--even privates--being appointed directly to colonel of a new regiment, particularly in 1861. Going from Lt. to Brig. Gen. was pretty unusual, which is why it's mentioned prominently in this article. Hal Jespersen (talk) 01:28, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

John Napier?

It is said that Custer has been represented by John Napier, leading to a link to that John Napier who died in the 17th century. Obviously not the same Napier. Someone knowledgeable in this area should correct this mistake.Sensei48 (talk) 05:05, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Alternate History Relevance?

Does anyone else think that the paragraph on alternate history Custer is totally irrelevant for the article? At least the size of a whole paragraph is inappropriate, also considering that there are a lot more fictional works that deal with Custer in one way or the other, that aren't mentioned. If this has to stay in the article at all, I'd say that a short reference in the trivia or literature section linking to the Turtledove article is enough. 80.140.242.116 22:11, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Someone(s) with Wiki likes Turtledove and adds the alternate history paragraph often Ralph15Feb06 Sensei48 (talk) 05:05, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Racist?

Whites?

"white Americans continually broke treaty agreements and advanced further westward."

I dont belive the Americans of that era did what they did because they where white so why this racial connotation ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 193.11.246.237 (talk) 09:20, 25 October 2007 (UTC)


I find the word hostile in the following paragraph to be a bit ethnocentric/racist.

"This delayed a scheduled expedition against the hostile Lakota and Northern Cheyenne tribes, in which Custer was to be involved."

Imagine that you're a 12-year-old kid doing research for a school project, you may just think Custer was justified in his actions, since of course the Native American tribes were "hostile." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.188.74.240 (talk) 09:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

I think the word "hostile" is acceptable (because it's true) as long as the reasons why they were hostile are set out clearly. Someone said "They were fighting for everything God gives anyone to fight for- land, homes and family."
Hostiles was the language of the day.Like the opposite of 'tame' Indian.

Still, the Native Americans weren't hostile. If you ask me, the American people were the ones who were hostile. The Native Americans were just doing what they had to do, which was protect their rightful claim to the land and perserve their ancient culture.

Eenyminy 01:43, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

I woulden't call it a rightfull claim since they didn't believe in land ownership and they weren't the only race living there. Thats like saying hispanics don't belong in the US because white people already live there, also your racist accusation of the american people as hostile is quite untrue since their "ancient culture" is based on raiding and "stealing" land from other native americans. If you ask a Souix about the west, he'll probably go on about "the evil white man" ask a Pawnee or a Crow and you'll see the Souix depicted in the same way with americans shown as more helpful than a "white menace". — Preceding unsigned comment added by 65.12.17.234 (talk) 00:42, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Author's Opinion

The following has no place in an "American" encyclopedia:

"Recent films and books including Little Big Man and Son of the Morning Star depict Custer as a cruel and murderous military commander whose actions today would warrant possible dismissal and court-martial. Much of this revisionism is unwarranted. Custer met Native Americans in battle just three times: Washita, where the Native American losses were small; Yellowstone skirmishes, and Little Big Horn. " — Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.253.176.249 (talk) 16:16, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

The comment about "Recent films..." are necessary. Historical facts must be protected. Very good article.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by 134.21.201.179 (talk) 19:47, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree and removed it. Grahamboat 20:52, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

I also removed “Within the culture of the U.S. Army, however, Custer was perceived as a self-seeking, glory wanting individual who placed his own needs above those of his own soldiers and the needs of the Army as a whole. His insubordination on various occasions led to problems with his own self-discipline.” As there was no citation.Grahamboat 21:00, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia Meets Custer

  • If you don't like the phrasing of something, hit the "edit this article" button and rephrase it. Also, you can automatically sign your comments but putting four tildes after your statements: ~~~~ jengod 06:21, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Time Life Series

The Old West book The Soldiers isn't near as nice to Georgie as this article was.By it,and everything else I've read,Custer was a fool whose men hated his guts.How reliable do you guys think these books are?Saltforkgunman 02:01, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

There was no middle ground with Custer - either you adored him or absolutely loathed him. There are a few books and articles written by survivors of the Little Big Horn, and some of these describe in detail what the common cavalryman thought of the once Boy General. Keep in mind that in the Civil War, Custer's aggressiveness and military competency was quite good, and under a demanding taskmaster (Sheridan), Custer rose in prominence to the point where he was present at Lee's surrender. However, he wasn't fighting the Army of Northern Virginia using conventional tactics at Little Big Horn. Scott Mingus 11:49, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, growing up I always received the impression that Custer was a fool who's gross mis-understanding of the situation caused his death, but after reading this article, it seems the truth is quite different. While there is no doubt that his attack was... presumeptious, there is also no doubt that the guy was fearless in the face of adversity. That in itself is more than most generals. Here was a warrior that was ultimately let down by the incompetence of his subordinate (however, perhaps his real mistake was thinking that others were as brave, or foolish, as he). Too bad his many acts of heroism in the civil war have been all but forgotten in the mists of time.

I too was under the impression that General Custer was less than the great leader that popular culture of late has portrayed him. Clearly, he was a great leader and it was the incompetence and cowardice of his captains that turned Little Big Horn into a disaster rather than the victory it very well could have been. --Jtpaladin 19:18, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Geneology Overkill

Is there really a point in listing 5 generations? He wasn't a king. Clarityfiend 23:20, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

[Hee-hee]. I agree, but we seem to have one or more Custer idolators lurking about. They even have their own Category! (Some Stonewall Jacksonites are out there, too.) But, there are a lot more trivial facts on Wikipedia than this. Hal Jespersen 01:12, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
The Geneology is missing Lydia, I'll have to find my notes and include her. CFLeon 00:32, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
It really doesn't seem appropriate for an encyclopedia entry; far too detailed. I've removed it. Shimgray | talk | 20:11, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Editing & Cleanup

I removed some biased remarks and cleaned up the layout a bit. Also, if you're going to have a Timeline, it needs to have more than just the dates of Birth and Death to it... CFLeon 00:24, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Some more clean-up and reorganization. I hope it flows a bit better in the Popular Culture section now. Also removed who played Tom and Boston in various productions, as it's irrelevant in this entry. If someone thinks it's important, put it on Tom's or Boston's pages. Lastly, I'm amazed that no one else caught the mistaken date for his graduation in the timeline! CFLeon 21:42, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, amazing things happen. I find that these small and superficial timeline sections that someone persists in adding are pretty worthless, so do not bother to check their contents closely. (If they were comprehensive and included full dates instead of simply years, that would be another matter.) Hal Jespersen 23:00, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I actually agree- I don't like the Timeline myself. But I felt that since someone put it up, it should be accurate and have more to it than 'Birth' & 'Death'. (And what do the Census Reports have to due with Custer in particular, anyway??? The article needs to include every Census he appears on????) CFLeon 01:31, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
If 2 or 3 people agree, we could just delete it and see what happens. Anyone else agree? Hal Jespersen 14:36, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
Another vote to get rid of it. Timelines are not common in most biographies, although you do occasionally see them. Scott Mingus 19:22, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
OK, here I go. If I get into a reversion war, somebody please step in to assist. Hal Jespersen 20:23, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

possible misleading Sitting Bull reference

In the introductory paragraph it says that the coalition of Natives was led by Sitting Bull, as this is true, it is somewhat misleading as Sitting Bull was not involved in the fighting. the two Indians that could best be described as military leaders for the Sioux were Crazy Horse and White Bull, the nephew of Sitting Bull

But the actual war chief of the Hunkpapa, Sitting Bull's band, was Gall, who was the chief leader of the initial push against Custer's battalion. White Bull was a very young man at the time - most estimates put him at between 14 and 16 years old. His account of the battle written down in 1932 is invaluable, but he was not at the time of the battle a war leader. In that interview, parenthetically, he raised the possibility that he may have been the one to kill Custer himself. Sensei48 15:19, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Let's stick with history and leave out the socio-political apologetics

I took it upon myself to remove the followng statement.

"Others equate the actions of the 7th Cavalry under his command with Holocaust-type atrocities perpetrated during World War II, or with ethnic cleansing of the 1990s."

This is clearly just an apologetic statement (and a rather melodramatic one) for the opinion that the Indians were the victims and the whites were the evil ones. It contributes nothing to the discussion of Custer and does not belong in an encyclopedia. At the very least, these "Others" should be named. If a citation is included, and it's a true academic source and not some modern political commentator, then I suppose it could be re-inserted. But, as is, it has to go.Sensei48 (talk) 05:07, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

German ancestry

Perhaps it should be mentioned, that his ancestry came from Westphalia in Northern Germany. They emigrated and arrived in America in the 17th century. The original family name was "Küster".

I found this section interesting, but it needs a reference which I duly noted. I added some material I found in The German Element in the United States which states he was a Hessian. Some "Hessians" did come from Westphalia, so perhaps all but this statement that he arrived in the 17th century is true. Or maybe Faust is incorrect, but this is all I have to go on at this point. Bob Burkhardt (talk) 17:59, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Custer in Census

--Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 08:32, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

The Curley Myth

Though I've edited other Wikipedia articles in the past, I hesitate to do so and infringe on the original author's rights and intent.

As an over-view, this is a competent ,often insightful , and generally factual report on a volatile and controversial topic.

There is, however, one glaring misstatement, and that is about the Crow scout "Curley" surviving the battle. This story is completely spurious and was denied both by Curley himself (repeatedly) and by the other Crow scouts, most notably by White Man Runs Him. The Crows were released from service once the Lakota village was found and none participated in the combat.

Documentation for this exists in a large number of sources. One of the most definitive of the "earlier" books on the battle (those published prior to the archaeological investigations of the LBH site in the 1980s and 1990s) is Col. W. A. Graham's The Custer Myth (Harrisburg, PA: Bonanza Books,1953). Graham assembled previously published interviews from a large number of the battle's surviving participants, including the above mentioned White Man Runs Him (first published in 1919) and several interviews with Curley himself, including the last to be completed before the scout's death in 1923. These interviews can be found in Chapter 3 of Graham's book, "The Crows," pp. 3-25. The "survivor" story is debunked in all of them.

Evan S. Connell also addresses the unreliability of the tale on pp. 314-316 of Son Of The Morning Star (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1984).

The only verified survivor of the cavalry forces in the Custer Hill/Last Stand phase of the battle was the horse Comanche, ridden in the battle by Company I commander Myles Keogh, who had received the horse from GAC himself as a gift. Comanche lived out his days as an honored mascot of the 7th Cavalry. When he died, he was stuffed and mounted and remains to this day on display at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. http://nhm.ku.edu/Hdocs/Comanche.html —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Sensei48 (talkcontribs) 22:30, 9 December 2006 (UTC).

I hope that the original author of this otherwise fine article on Custer will take note.

J.K. Moran —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sensei48 (talkcontribs) 21:32, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

[When I first saw this posting, I thought: "Did the Three Stooges do a movie about Custer?" :-)] Joking aside, there is no single author for this article, so you are invited to jump in and make responsible edits. I contributed a good deal of the information about the American Civil War, but have little expertise about his career after 1865. Hal Jespersen 00:45, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Antietam

This passage seems wrong or badly phrased at least:

When McClellan was relieved of command, Custer reverted to the rank of first lieutenant and returned to the 5th Cavalry for the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Chancellorsville.

McClellan was in command at Antietam, having been recalled. See George_B._McClellan#Maryland_Campaign_and_the_Battle_of_Antietam. The information with this photo Image:Lincoln-and-officers-Antietam-1862.jpg, taken from the Library of Congress web site, states that Custer was a Captain at Antietam. Tyrenius 02:22, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

The article is wrong and I have fixed it. Custer was still a temporary captain at Antietam, doing nothing notable enough to mention, other than being photographed. Thanks for catching this. Hal Jespersen 03:04, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Bias?

I intend to edit the section “Battle of the Little Bighorn” to remove some of the bias (Custer lovers/haters vs. Reno/Benteen lovers/haters) that I believe exists. Since this is my first Wikipedia edit, I thought it would be best to put it on the discussion page for comments.

  1. . I would remove the sentence “Some sources say…candidate for President…led him to foolhardy decisions.” No mainstream historian has ever proved that Custer had political aspirations and to suggest that this led him to foolhardy decisions on the battlefield is preposterous.
  2. . I would change the concept that Reno’s charge was “timid” and Benteen “instead” halted and “all” the Native Americans to many Native Americans.
  3. . I would identify Curley as a questionable witness to the “last stand”.

Grahamboat 21:36, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Very sensible to proceed like this, if I may say so.
  • "Some sources" - I agree. See WP:WEASEL anyway.
  • "Many native Americans", erm, see WP:WEASEL.
  • I had noticed Curley and thought it needed changing.
The main premise is that all statements should be referenced. See WP:ATT and WP:NPOV. Also see WP:BOLD and WP:BRD.
Tyrenius 04:09, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I executed changes as outlined in Grahamboat 1,2,and 3 above. I removed the Godfrey statement about “misstating the condition of Custer’s body” as that “letter” has never been verified. Godfrey admitted in the RCOI that he never saw Custer’s body and it seems unlikely he would refer to it while Libbie was still alive. Grahamboat 20:14, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Wasn't Custer a native American?

How does the term 'Native American' distinguish the subject from native Americans like Custer?

Wouldn't the term 'Amerindian' provide more clarity, acuracy and brevity?

— Preceding unsigned comment added by 138.162.5.11 (talk) 14:39, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

I don't think so. "Native American" is widely used in the U.S. for American Indians, though many of them prefer "American Indian." (See Common usage in the U.S..) "Amerindian" is probably too obscure or too academic to be helpful. —OtherDave 05:07, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Overall a Good Article

Custer was a tricky fellow. He was actively idolized and utterly despised even in his own time. Ironically the people that hate him today for fighting the Native Americans would be on the Grant Administration's side - who hated him for publically defending their rights. As for his competance, that was always open too. Being a balls to the wall aggressive cavalryman doesn't make him a military genius but being so, winning, and surviving is close. And in the end, close isn't always good enough. After Gettysburg he encountered General Longstreet and tried to convince General Lee's stout lieutenant he had him outnumbered and out gunned. He requested Longstreet's surrender in person. Longstreet ordered his staff to bring several Confederate divisions up to attack including General Pickett's. In reality these divisions existed only on paper and Pickett's was crushed at Gettysburg. But Custer bought Longstreet's bluff and retreated with his tail between his legs.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by 139.139.67.70 (talk) 13:32, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Battle of Little Bighorn section

This section is extremely hard to follow. I don't know enough history to attempt a rewrite, but I'm offering these comments / questions:

  • I recognize this section is probably the work of several authors, but for clarity I'd urge using "Indians" throughout, instead of "Native Americans, Indians, warriors, Sioux Indians."
  • Numbers of Custer's forces are unclear. How many in the regiment? (About) how many in each of the battalions (when their individual numbers matter)? About how many in a company?
  • ...Custer attempted a diversionary attack on the flank of the village, deploying other companies on the ridges in order to give Benteen the time to join him...
To me, this implies that the deployment was what would give Benteen time, whereas I'd think the attack would be the main way of buying time, with the deployment as a supporting tactic. But I'm no soldier.
  • What is the source for the claim that Custer attempted this diversion?
  • ...so the company trying to ford the river retreated to higher ground...
Would it not be clearer to put the fording comment earlier? E.g., "...Custer ordered X companies to make a diversionary attack across the Little Bighorn to the (left? right?) flank..."
  • ...There, the survivors of the command exchanged fire with the Indians and fell to the last man. The Indian assault was both merciless and tactically expected. Without the support of Benteen's battalion, the Sioux Indians outnumbered Custer's command by nearly 10 to 1. When the Indians realized their superior numbers, they closed in for the final attack and killed all to the last man..

Good observations below. I agree with the criticism of this passage, but am unsure as to what the rewrite should be.Doktorschley 12:02, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

    • The first sentence is both out of place and pointless.
    • The second seems superfluous and possible POV ("merciless").
    • "Sioux" seems incorrect since Cheyenne appear in a few more sentences.
    • In any event, the Sioux did not have the support of Benteen's battalion. ("The Sioux, without Benteen, outnumbered...")
    • A possible rewrite, starting in the previous paragraph:
But Benteen never came and so the company trying to ford the river retreated to higher ground. (new paragraph)
After a lengthy defensive fight, the surviving cavalrymen fell back to what is now called Custer Hill. Outnumbered nearly 10 to 1, Custer and all his forces were killed. The Battle of Little Bighorn became popularly known as Custer's Last Stand.
  • Start a new paragraph after "Custer's Last Stand."
  • Any reliable estimates for the overall duration of the battle?

OtherDave 15:44, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Merciless

"The second seems superfluous and possible POV ("merciless"). " The Native American warriors tortured and massacred the wounded soldiers. Some of them were spared but to be tortured in the Indian village on the night of the 25th (they were put in front of a pole and tortured during a wild dance (Little Knife's testimony). Their heads were cut off and their bodies were burnt. A young Sioux said that some of the soldiers were even burnt alive. "Merciless" isn't POV, it's an understatement. Custerwest 23:10, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

It's an editorial comment and therefore contravenes wiki policy. Let the facts speak for themselves. I think they will manage to. Tyrenius 23:17, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Nickname "Squaw Killer"?

12:23, 20 July 2007 134.21.9.180 (Talk) (34,718 bytes) (Custer wasn't nicknamed "squaw killer", but "Ramping Panther" and "Long Hair" by the Cheyennes)

Cite your source, please. "Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan" = "Squaw Killer" in Cheyenne.

Felix c 20:16, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

I've read of all three being nicknames, but Felix, what is your source for the Cheyenne-language nickname? Verifiable anywhere in print or online, esp. from primary source documents, e.g., reliably translated and published interviews with tribal members from that era? There are dozens of such for Lakota/Sioux warriors. Sensei48 15:01, 24 July 2007 (UTC)Sensei48

Sources ? Custer's nicknames were quoted by Kate BigHead and others as being Panther and Long Hair. The "squaw killer" is an hoax, a modern hoax.Custerwest 08:41, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Look, my question is not informational - EVERYone knows Kate Big Head etc. My point is self-evidently to treat the article like an encyclopedia entry and provide a verifiable source in print or online, not as a "gee, everyone knows that"- common knowledge type of comment that way too often is an attempt to disguise a point of view. So Custerwest, if you want to discredit Felix's unsupported observation, you do so by providing a supported, affirmative source from Kate Big Head and other Cheyennes. That is exactly what I'm asking Felix to do for "Squaw Killer." That and only that can give an entry in a populist document like Wiki on a controversial topic like Custer the integrity worthy to make it a source for research. Sensei48 06:21, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

@Sensei48

"Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan" = "Squaw Killer" in Cheyenne: Just found it here.

But even if this nickname would really exist in Cheyenne (better described as "woman killer"?), the nick has perhaps nothing to do with Custer. But you find this urban legend often when you search the web, an example:

"In November 1868 the 7th cavalry fought at the battle of Washita during which over a hundred Indians were killed including some women and children which the Cheyenne nicknamed Custer Squaw killer for". Felix c 22:31, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the response and the links, Felix. I'm a bit confused by the first one, which seems to indicate two somewhat different translations of your phrase. The second looks like a very interesting site, and you have it there in B&W - and as I noted, I have seen this before. But, in the interests of objectivity and maybe to nail it shut (for CW?) - are there any primary source or earlier secondary sources that you know of?Sensei48 23:50, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

I wouldn't say a forum on cryptozoology.com counts as a reliable source, by any stretch of the imagination. And "Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan" looks nothing like Cheyenne, so if it does represent Cheyenne is must be a very poor transcription system. However! Apparently the USA Today mentioned that Custer was vilified with the label "Squaw Killer", in a 1994 article, available here (the mention of the epithet is on page 3). That would certainly be a reliable source, I should think --Miskwito 00:15, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I checked the online version of a recent good Cheyenne dictionary (I can't link to it because the site is blacklisted, but you can get there from here), and it lists Gen. Custer's Cheyenne name as Tsêhe'êsta'éhe, meaning "Long Hair", with a variant Háa'êsta'éhe (same meaning) that was less commonly used. Tsêhe'êsta'éhe would sound to English-speakers approximately like "tse'sta'eh" (with ' representing a glottal stop, a catch in the throat). This could be part of "Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan", but I'm not really sure which part. Alternately, the suffixal form of "woman" in Cheyenne is -e'é, which could conceivably be the "He" part of "Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan". But I don't see any words for "kill" or "murder" that resemble "Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan", and the Cheyenne word for bigfoot or other giant monster is ma'xeméstaa'e ("big spook"), which also doesn't resemble any part of "Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan". What does all this mean? I have no idea. I somewhat doubt "Zet-Ape-Taz-He-Tan" actually means "woman-killer", assuming it's even a representation of any Cheyenne word, but...I don't know. --Miskwito 00:35, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

A bit more on this nickname. In The Day the World Ended at Little Bighorn by Joseph Marshall III (pg. 116), Marshall is talking about the Battle of Ash Hollow, and says: "News of [William Harney's] attack on Little Thunder's peaceful village was reported in the eastern newspapers, and the general was vilified and dubbed Squaw Killer. Among the Lakota, he was known as Winyan Wicakte, or Woman Killer." Reading this immediately made me suspect that it was Harney to whom this epithet was originally applied. Checking online, I've found a number of references to this nickname of Harney's, e.g.:

None of these are particularly reliable as sources, but taken together with the book passage, they make me confident that Harney did indeed receive the nickname "Squaw Killer". And, evidently, the nickname is mentioned in other published works as well, such as on pg. 124 of The First Sioux War: The Grattan Fight and Blue Water Creek 1854-1856 by Paul Norman Beck (2004, University Press of America). Now, whether all this means that the label has only recently been applied to Custer, or whether multiple U.S. army officers were referred to as "Squaw-Killer", I have no idea. --Miskwito 05:57, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Interesting addendum. Not to open another can of worms - and I have no doubt about the accuracy of Marshall's report - but this is the first I've heard of such an allegation against Harney,who in several other sources (which I'll find) is portrayed as somewhat more of an advocate (as well as general against) the Plains tribes. Not a logical stretch to make the inference you do - and CusterWest's original assertion - that this was a recently-applied monniker for GAC - may in fact be true. S/he just didn't offer any support for saying as much.Sensei48 08:07, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Concerning nicknames and an earlier section on this page as to how his men felt about him.... I remember reading a book (Please don't ask for a citation.) that had a listing of the names given to post-Civil War plains military leaders by the enlisted men. Custer's nickname was "hard ass." Thomas R. Fasulo (talk) 14:33, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Removed link

I've removed links to an external blogsite as violative of WP:LINKS#Restrictions on linking, which without exception prohibits linking to external websites that include unlicensed copyrighted material. For details, see Talk:Battle of Washita River#External link violates Wikipedia policies. --Yksin 22:15, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Fair Warning - Correction About Out of Wedlock Child

I'm afraid that most of the post-Civil War material here is beyond saving as a respectable source, but I suppose some repair is possible in a step by step manner. Before we get to the stupid and entirely inappropriate term "merciless," which reeks of POV and whose author should be completely blocked from further edits to this article (bias having been incontrovertibly established by that one word) -

the matter of Custer's paternity of any child is debatable at best. While the rumor of such a child certainly dates back to stories contemporary to Custer, both among the Cheyenne and among Custer's detractors among the whites, it should be identified in the article as a rumor and not as a fact.

With all due respect to the LDS' work with genealogy, the religious/doctrinal aspect of the project disqualifies it as an independent source among serious, non-LDS academicians, who tend to use the work only in conjunction with other verifiable non-religious sources.The LDS databases focus on genealogy of members and relatives; part of the reason for the collection of the data has been the post-mortem baptism of the un-christened, a practice of great controversy and in any event a product of religious belief and not verifiable fact.

In the absence of DNA evidence or any other scientific verification, the story remains unestablished as a fact and needs to be treated as such.

And need I point out that under no circumstance would there EVER have been a child named "Yellow Bird Custer" because -

a) the Cheyenne identified clan membership through the mother and in no case used surnames derived from the father, and

b) among white Americans, the father's surname could not be passed to a child born out of wedlock, which according to this story Yellow Bird was, Custer's only recognized marriage being to Elizabeth Bacon Custer.

The "fair warning" of the header is that in a week or so I will remove or edit this reference unless someone out there comes up with a more accepted sourcing for this very debatable assertion.Sensei48 17:56, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Having done lots of genealogical work, I concur with your opinion that the LDS family archives are not a sufficiently reliable source to prove the assertion about "Yellow Bird Custer." There are numerous errors in those archives, which are uploaded by individual family historians, whose original data (if any) upon which their assertions are made is not even shown. See for yourself: here's the LDS Ancestral File record for Yellow Bird cited by 204.9.11.123 (talk · contribs), the user who added this info to the article. Note the disclaimer that the LDS site itself provides on this page: "Ancestral File is a collection of genealogical information taken from Pedigree Charts and Family Group Records submitted to the Family History Department since 1978. The information has not been verified against any official records. Since the information in Ancestral File is contributed, it is the responsibility of those who use the file to verify its accuracy." Some of the user-uploaded genealogies at Rootsweb also make this genealogical claim about "Yellow Bird Custer" -- for example, this one -- but suffer from the same problem of unverifiable information. They are not reliable sources. If there are primary source documents such as birth certificates, or reliable secondary sources that are based on such primary sources, that's a different -- but user-uploaded genealogies at Rootsweb or LDS Ancestral File are only starting points at best in tracking down such sources. They are not in & of themselves reliable sources.
204.9.11.123 is also inaccurate in his/her statement that "He [Custer] entered into a bigamous marriage with her [Monaseetah] on 27 Nov 1868." Although there is evidence that Custer did have a sexual relationship with Little Rock's daughter Monaseetah, it most certainly did not begin on 27 Nov 1868, which is the date of the Battle of the Washita. That's the date Monaseetah became a captive, not the date their alleged sexual relationship began. Nor is there any evidence that the sexual relationship was a "marriage" or a "bigamous marriage."
I don't think it's necessary to wait a week to remove this kind of unverified claim. So I'm removing it now. If anyone can find a reliable source for this claim (which, again, the user-uploaded genealogies at LDS Ancestral File or Rootsweb do not qualify as), they can readd the info with proper sourcing. --Yksin 22:57, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
Addendum. I have also added back info from a reliable source (Utley's bio Cavalier in Buckskin) about the allegations that Custer had a sexual relationship with & child by Monaseetah made by Benteen, scout Ben Clark, & Cheyenne oral history. However, in this source no name for the child is given. Nor should it be, unless a reliable source giving a name can be found. I've used qualifying language ("alleged"/"alleges") because so does the source. --Yksin 23:13, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
Nicely done, as far as I am concerned. I would point out though (and I don't recall if Utley mentions this because I haven't read the book in years) that Benteen is hardly a reliable source for literally anything concerning Custer, for whom he had an abiding and career-long hatred. If memory serves, Benteen made the allegation after Custer's death, not within the time frame of the alleged birth (s). I raise this point merely in discussion with you Yskin and not in any attempt to revise what you've amended - as I said, it finally looks like a real encyclopedia section. Great work with the genealogy. I have no doubt that GAC was as capable of such behavior as anyone else, but I have also wondered about the story because no argument has ever been made about which partner in the Custer marriage was incapable of conception, despite an apparently robust sex life (covered and sourced admirably by Jefferey Wert in his 1996 Custer.Sensei48 01:20, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Sensei48. I did a bit more research on the claims about Monaseetah & Yellow Bird -- especially after discovering how completely inaccurate the Monaseetah article is at the moment (see its talk page) -- so I'll be doing more after I get the research actually compiled a bit more sensibly. I am aware of Benteen's biases against Custer. But, based on the research I did last night, I think the first Benteen claim about Custer's alleged relationship with Monaseetah was simply as a marginal note in his copy of Custer's My Life on the Plains (I'll have to doublecheck that though). And of course Ben Clark also made the allegation. Cheyenne oral history makes the same allegation. I don't know whether Benteen & Clark were aware of each other's allegation, but neither was aware of the allegation in Cheyenne oral history; nor were the Cheyenne's aware of Benteen's & Clarks' allegations: the claims were made independently, which tends to strengthen the case for those who say that there was such a sexual relationship. Cheyenne oral history also speaks of a fair-haired child named Yellow Swallow or Yellow Bird that Monaseetah had, & alleges it was Custer's child... enough so that the tale pretty early entered into white writings. I figure that a longer account of the allegations, well-sourced & with care taken for the requirements of NPOV & NOR as well, would be better placed in the Monaseetah article than this one, but that this article should have a brief summary that points to that longer article.
I personally think that the allegation of a sexual relationship between Custer & Monaseetah is probably true. I'm not convinced of the allegation that Yellow Bird was his son, however. It has been argued that Custer might have been sterile because of a bout with gonorrhea, I believe in the 1850s (though not proven); some sources I came across yesterday also have suggested that Yellow Bird could have been Tom Custer's child, on speculation that he may also have had a sexual relationship with Monaseetah. --Yksin 06:03, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I am also wondering why someone feels that such a fact (that Libby and GAC had no children) - common knowledge historically, not at all controversial or in question - should need a source. It would be nearly impossible to source a negative, in any event; they had no children and so there are no records of any.Sensei48 01:30, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Although well-known to people who are well-up on Custer, it wasn't known to me until recently -- & my bet is that a lot of other people didn't know that about Custer either. I kinda came to Custer by way of getting involved in earlier problems at Battle of Washita River. But my main reason for adding the {{fact}} tag was in order to make it clear that source of the statement in the sentence following the one about Custer's marriage to Libbie & their childlessness was not a source for that statement. In any case, it should be very easy to add a source about their marriage & childlessness, as any Custer bio will probably include that info. I just didn't have the time to look up page numbers at the time. --Yksin 06:03, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

BTW - computer problem caused me to misplace the comment on the GAC/Libby childlessness. I thought I had deleted it from the article where I mistakenly put it and added it to the discussion page.I appreciate the good faith presentation of the child controversy, and while I am all but certain that GAC was involved with Monaseetah based on the evidence, I am leery still about the child. Oral traditions are compelling anthropologically but not as much so historically. There are viable oral traditions that the world is flat, that it was created in seven days, and that the moon is made of green cheese. Each has validity within its own sphere but does not meet the kind of objectively-provable criteria that post-Enlightenment rational inquiry demands. The other two sources - Benteen as noted; Clark's possible motives deserve some investigation as well. Three contemporary sources for the story constitute a powerful argument - but, then, nothing appears in The National Enquirer without having three sources as well. Insert smiley following this last if needed.Sensei48 09:59, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, in this case "oral tradition" is just historical narratives passed down orally rather than through writing, so I don't see how they're much less reliable than written sources as far as veracity goes. I don't know about the Cheyenne or Lakhota, but among the Anishinaabe, there are two types of oral presentation considered quite distinct: oral histories, meant as factual tellings of real, historical events, and mythological/religious stories, understood as being highly symbolic and containing lessons and the like. The main reason the former would be unreliable, aside from the unavoidable biases in any historical account, would probably be the distortions that would happen with each retelling. So older oral histories are probably less accurate than younger ones. All that being said, you're quite right that oral histories alone aren't reliable sources, and in any case can't be cited by Wikipedia; we can cite secondary sources that draw on oral histories though, as long as it's clear that's where the claims come from. --Miskwito 15:32, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Well stated. Here you raise the ironic point that an oral tradition quoted, say, in a book could be construed as an acceptable source whereas the same oral statement made originally might not. For the record, I have no doubt that the oral traditions of many Native American groups are at least as accurate as published histories - but my sense of that is an intuition that I could not use to justify reliance on it.

On another tack - I just re-read the section on the battle and find as noted that it is much too long - and there is still (despite good efforts by Yskin and Miskwito) POV like the word "recklessly" and the very debatable description of what transpired with GAC's battalion ("driven from the fords"? even the 1984 archaeological digs could not establish how close to the river they ever got - and that's more appropriate for the battle article anyway.) A less detailed summary would indeed be appropriate here.Sensei48 15:47, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

The good news is, I just got three books on Custer/Little Bighorn/Crazy Horse, so hopefully I can help fix a lot of the article soon. --Miskwito 16:18, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Re: oral histories: These oral histories have since been written down by ethnologists & other researchers, so have availability now through reliable published sources. The article (whether this one or the Monaseetah article) can only say what reliable sources permit; reliable sources do include questioning of Benteen's & Clark's motives, so that will get mention too. --Yksin 16:32, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

A bit more concerning Monaseetah and Custer: evidently Custer himself writes about his relationship with her in My Life on the Plains, though obviously he doesn't come out and say it was a sexual relationship (and certainly he doesn't claim to have fathered any of her children). I don't have My Life on the Plains, but Welch in Killing Custer (p. 173) quotes briefly from Custer's description of her. Welch comments:

Custer himself acknowledges a ceremony in which he and Me-o-tzi (or Mo-nah-se-tah, as she was also called) held hands while a Cheyenne woman said some solemn words. To his surprise (or so he claimed), he discovered that he had just become the nineteen-year-old Me-o-tzi's husband. Although he professes nothing more than a passing admiration for the girl, his description of her is glowing. ... Such a description seems to indicate a sexual attraction, but whether it was acted upon is conjectural. Rumors circulated--that an army doctor caught Custer and Me-o-tzi in the act of making love, for instance--and a child was born to the young woman shortly after she met Custer. The time frame was all wrong and the infant looked purely Cheyenne, but the rumors persisted. Another rumor had it that Me-o-tzi had another child shortly thereafter and it had curly blond hair.

Apparently, Custer's description of Monaseetah is on page 282 of My Life on the Plains, according to Welch's endnotes for pg. 173 (pg. 306). --Miskwito 21:24, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Fair warning: Battle of the Little Bighorn

I removed the two instances of "mercilessly" in the article, but I agree that most of the later half of the article is truly terribly. In any case, this isn't an article on the Battle of Little Bighorn, it's an article on Custer, so the level of detail on the battle is inappropriate for this article. The section should link to that article, so readers can get more info there, and only provide a summary here. Not to mention that the entire massive section is virtually unreferenced, and those references it has are to entire books, rather than providing page numbers. Which is essentially the same as being unreferenced. This seems as good a place as any to state my similar intention to delete the entire section in a week or two, and replace it with a much briefer summary of the battle, that's sourced. --Miskwito 18:59, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Okay, I'm working on a draft of a new version of this section, which I've got at User:Miskwito/Notes right now; anyone who wants to is more than welcome to help out and improve it. I'm not sure how much background to the battle should really be given in this article, but I think probably at least mention of the overall reason for the Custer and the army being there in the first place (removing the plains tribes to agencies), and of the Battle at the Rosebud 8 days earlier, should be mentioned. Also I haven't added sources yet. --Miskwito 01:47, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Wow. That is very smoothly & cleanly written; a definite improvement over the too-long section currently in place, much more appropriate for this article. --Yksin 01:55, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Allow me to echo that comment. It's exactly the right length and tenor, a fine job. I would like to see one minor change if possible, and that is regarding GAC's"attempt to ford the river" with his battalion. I'm going to leave a bit of a longer note on Miskwito's user talk page. But I see no reason why this version should not replace the current flawed text immediately. Sensei48 03:43, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Problems with George Armstrong Custer and Battle of the Little Bighorn

(cross-posted to Battle of the Little Bighorn)

The current text of these article violates a number of Wikipedia policies, notably No Original Research, Neutral Point of View, Attribution, and to write in an encyclopedic style. Essentially:

  1. Don't write your own personal interpretation or the inferences you personally draw from the facts; add the facts themselves and then the interpretations or inferences of others
  2. Provide sources for your edits and claims, and cite specific pages of works where possible, not just entire articles or books (this makes it much easier for other editors to verify the claims)
  3. Write neutrally. This doesn't mean we can't discuss Custer's flaws and mistakes; rather, it means we need to give equal time to the various interpretations that various historians have drawn about Custer. We can say "So-and-so argues that Custer made a number of serious tactical errors...", but not "Custer made a number of serious tactical errors...", for example.
  4. Use balanced, encyclopedic writing (i.e., not overly-descriptive or overly-narrative things like "a bullet splattered the brains of the Indian scout next to him across the side of his face")

The additional material that has been added recently by some editors, and that I reverted, further went against these policies (which is why I reverted it). If those editors adding new information, or revising old information, could provide sources for their edits, properly reference them, keep neutral and balanced, and write neutrally in an encyclopedic style, both articles could be greatly improved. I'm not sure how many of the editors working on these articles were aware of these Wikipedia policies, and I should have brought them up immediately instead of just reverting, but hopefully this comment of mine can help us move forward and improve these articles. --Miskwito 21:51, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Good points all. Another helpful thing is to include edit summaries to briefly explain your edit, which makes it a lot easier for other editors to understand your reasoning & also helps prevent misunderstandings. --Yksin 01:49, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Another Mistake In the LBH Section

This may be moot because of announced intentions to revise the whole section, but I'm not sure how this sentence survived as long as it has:

"The action was probably intended as a general massacre."

- meaning the attack on the village. If there is either documentary evidence for this or even an unprejudiced non-POV logical inference that can be made, I'd let it slide. HOWEVER -

a) the stated purpose of the 1876 campaign was the "return of the hostiles" to the various reservations; The orders to Gibbon, Terry and Custer were to force movement, not to exterminate.


b) The likeliest and most widely-held theory on GAC's pincer strategy was the capture of the women, children, and older men. It was a brutal enough concept as it was - grab the warriors' families and force them into submission and return by threatening the lives or simply the freedom or presence of their families (as in "We'll send them to Oklahoma or Florida and you'll never see them again"). But "general massacre"? Source it or delete it! Sensei48 18:54, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Undoing The Undo Edit - Speisr

Whoever edited the original text on the battle toward the end of the combat section made marked improvements, two of which should be mentioned here:

a) the singular of "troops" is trooper, not troop. The original editor corrected this accurately - "a single trooper" alleged to escape, not a single "troop." A "troop" is an unspecific number of soldiers, not a single soldier.

b) The volley firing from Custer's detachment is a significant element in the battle and should not be deleted. The best and most level-headed of Reno's officers, Capts. Weir and French, heard at least three distinct volleys coming from Custer's fight from their advanced position known today as Weir Point, several hundred yards to the north by west of Reno's position. The 1984 acchaeological dig found additional evidence to support the conclusion reached in June 1876 by Gen. Terry's men - that Calhoun's and Keogh's companies had offered stiff and organized resistance as indicated by the number of shell casings found around the bodies of the men. The regular positioning of the corpses and the nearly identical number and position of ejected casings around Keogh's mention suggest strongly that the volleys came from his troop, either as a signal of distress or as and indication of the typical military tactic of the day (by infantry or dismounted cavalry)of massed firing to blunt a frontal assault. The volley fire is important because it indicates that at least for some period of time the resistance of the cavalry soldiers in GAC's detachment was disciplined and organized under pressure - not completely the wild rout or meleé described by a few of the Native American combatants (not to say that it was not a rout at other parts of the field [see all the stuff on the Deep Ravine, which should be mentioned in any discussion of the battle] but that there was initial structure to the command).

Spiesr undid the edits for reasons I cannot understand, since for the reasons listed here the edit was superior to the original text, and Spiesr has edited back IN the mistake regarding the word "troop" above. I'm going to undo Spiesr's undo and suggest that s/he justify the change here or leave it alone.Sensei48 17:06, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for explaining; I agree with your assessment of these improvements, & hopefully they will help Spiesr feel comfortable with them as well. It may have helped if User:71.219.243.176, who made these improvements, had used edit summaries to explain his/her edits, & if particularly on the volley firing there was source given. Without those things, it would be easy for User:Spiesr or anyone to assume that some of the changes were to introduce factual inaccuracies. Though it would have helped had Spiesr included edit summaries saying something like "rv unsourced info; please add sourcing if you readd". --Yksin 17:40, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
I am myself relatively new to the whole Wikipedia editing process, and at points confused by it. I tried to provide an edit summary (so as to let Spiesr know that this undo is NOT "vandalism," which Spiesr alleges in his/her undo of the edit)but it does not seem to be showing up.. I actually read into the vandalism allegation of bit of pique, apparent in Spiesr's reactions on his/her own talk page when someone undid Sp's revisions on another topic.
Sourcing on the volley fire is easily available and I will try to provide some later today.
I've held back on editing the egregious assumptions and POV of the section on the battle because you and I (and Miskito, I believe) agree that it needs to be shortened and objectified. But I come back to my objection above - Custer was probably intending a massacre? Source it. Sitting Bull "recognized the impending massacre for what it was"? Source it - but one can't unless both Sitting Bull and the editor are clairvoyant. And the only source for the GAC battalion attempting the fords are some Indian accounts who may have confused Custer's battalion with Reno's. But there is no archaeological evidence (bullet casings, bone fragments, personal effects) that prove to the point of fact that Custer was ever any closer to the river than he was when he died.

[From Doktorschley: the claim that archaeological evidence could somehow confirm or deny whether Custer approached the river or not in an attempt to ford it is absurd. Cartridges expended there would have been washed away over the years, unlike those on the ridge which were left to lie in the prairie grass. For much of the battle, the historian is left with various eye witness accounts and has to choose. Michno's work does the best job of this. He has collected the independent Indian accounts of this attempt, and we should take these seriously. This evidence corresponds to the hammer-anvil strategy that Custer seems to have sought to deploy (otherwise, how does one explain Reno's lone sortie against the camp?). Doktorschley 00:55, 6 October 2007 (UTC)(talkcontribs) 00:31, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the comment, but it's not absurd. Cartridges expended IN the river might - might -have been washed away, but not those on the approaches to the river, which is a stream at that point so narrow and shallow even in wet years that had there been a significant skirmish there involving any number of troopers firing their rifles some evidence of the same would almost certainly remain. And please note that the archeology following 1984 traces troop movements through buttons, bone, buckles, and personal effects in addition to shell casings, no significant amount of any of which has been found at any alleged or likely ford. My comment to which you respond emphasizes to the point of fact, for which hard physical evidence is all but a sine qua non given the contradictions in Lakota/Cheyenne testimony that even Michno acknowledges. And as much as I respect his informed opinions, Michno is neither a professional historian nor archaeologist. His is a work of impressive speculation and is POV. He does not refer to the scouts and is selective and indirect in his use of Lakota accounts. W. A. Graham, on the other hand, includes in The Custer Myth without interpretation the full and original published texts of dozens of Indian accounts, including all the Crow scouts, the Rees, and even the handful of Arapahos who were there in addition to the (to any serious student of the battle) very familiar accounts of the dozens of Lakota and Cheyenne whose recollections and accounts were later published, including those related to Thomas B. Marquis, who derived from the Cheyenne his controversial theory that GAC's command committed mass suicide. Insisting on evidence beyond the Indian accounts is not to disrespect them; it is rather to understand that the nature of their perception of the battle differs radically from the standards that and encyclopedia demands of history. More below. Sensei48 06:16, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Not much shooting is reported in the vicinity of the river, save that between Reno's men in the timber along the river, and their Indian attackers. The report on Custer attempting to ford the river at the north end of the camp notes a single rifle shot. The claim that archaeology would cast any light on this stuff is absurd. Bones, buckles, buttons, personal effects and the like were certainly shed in the disorderly flight along the ridge to the site of "Custer's last stand." Archaeology is quite inexact as a discipline, and does not allow one to recover exact details Sensei claims, unless, as in the case of Calhoun's ridge, the area lies undisturbed save for the occasional wildfire. One cannot consider that the area along the river has remained "undisturbed" for over a century and a quarter. Since Sensei writes as if he is a professional archaeologist, I will note that I have worked professionally in that field, too.Doktorschley 00:55, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

No DoktorS, I am not a professional archaeologist, though I have worked in the field as well. I believe you are slightly overstating the point I was trying to make. Allow me to restate: as above, without archaeological evidence as mentioned to support suppositions about the GAC battalion troop movements (and I say again as above "support to the point of indisputable fact"), we are left with POV interpretations of what evidence there is - physical (the dead bodies of men and horses and their positions on the battlefield) and oral as you mention in your note above - the accounts of the Indian participants that usually mention an attempt to cross the river but vary as to whether it was at the north end of the village (which would have been Custer with Yates' F company) or at the center where Medicine Tail Coulee opens to the banks (which seems to have been Smith's C company, the Gray Horse Troop).

Therein hangs the tale and the dispute - Edgerly and Godfrey and later Graham and more recently Wert favor the initial white view that part of the battalion moved toward the river while the rest was deployed at or near the points where the bodies were found. More recent interpretations that give more weight to some of the native accounts (those that seem to point to a more general movement toward the river)project a panicked rout of the entire command. Yet Calhoun's AND Keogh's companies were found in relatively good order, company personnel largely intact except for individuals who might have attempted to cross the intervening quarter mile to Custer's hill and have been killed in the "buffalo run" in the process.

The simple fact is that no one knows, and that's my point. The article states that Custer attempted to ford the river, and that is just not a statement that can be made as an indisputable fact. It would be a relatively simple fix in the article - identify troop movements of the GAC battalion as theories and mention the prominent ones. Sensei48 15:46, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

In further editing, it is well to remember that the official army view has always been to exculpate Custer, whereas real reasons exist from both outright evidence (the jettisoning of the battery of Gatling Guns early in the campaign and the division of his forces in the face of superior numbers) and the Indian accounts, that Custer made serious strategic errors. These aspects of the campaign need to be brought out to the lay reader. Otherwise, all we are doing is codifying the "official history" which can best be characterized as "lies upon which men have agreed".] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Doktorschley (talkcontribs) 00:31, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

You may well be right about this in your first sentence, and I would hate to be put in the position of defending GAC's strategy or behavior. But I have to disagree with your apparent intent in the rest of this paragraph. A discussion - say between you and me or Michno and Utley - might well feature passionate exchanges about GAC's strategy or troop movements or native accounts. But what an encyclopedia owes a "lay reader" is a dispassionate presentation of facts, where facts are available, and all important sides of a controversy where facts are not. For example, both of the decisions you mention have a counter-argument in their favor (the Gatling guns would have slowed them down and could never have been brought to bear on LBH terrain, the division of command worked at Washita. A good article informs the reader that these are matters of dispute by people of both information and good faith. If after all the published sound and fury about this battle there remains an "official" or "army" version being foisted on an ignorant public, then the encyclopedia should present the alternative versions and let the reader decide. Sensei48 06:16, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

The bulk of this section includes errors of assumption, POV, fact, and grammar. It's a major challenge to try to rectify these errors. Sensei48 18:02, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
True story: the Battle of the Little Bighorn section is waaaaaaaay too large -- more-or-less a content fork of the article Battle of the Little Bighorn where most of this material (or at least the accurate parts of it) should be.
Re: edit summaries when doing reverts: I don't know if you've heard of the tool WP:TWINKLE, but it's what I use. It provided three options when reverting an edit: a "Good faith" revert; a plain revert; & a vandalism revert. The good faith & vandalism reverts both automatically add text to the edit summary indicating your judgment of the edit you're reverting; both the "good faith" & the plain revert also both provide you with an opportunity to add further text to the edit summary, as you wanted to do here. Here's an example: the text "Replace end quotes" in the edit summary was added by me; the rest was added automatically by the tool when I picked the plain version of the revert. Here's a vandalism revert using this tool: the entire edit summary was automatically generated. Here's a good faith revert using Twinkle. This tool also makes it easy to place warnings on user talk pages, to make vandalism reports, to request page protection, etc. --Yksin 18:40, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

THANKS - now I know what the "TW" is and will start using it for clarity and consistency with a kind of "best practices" Wiki consistency. Sensei48 19:15, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Sensei's "The facts, ma'am and nothing but the facts" is naïve and overlooks the reality that all history has to be reconstructed from bare "facts". The best a work such as wikipedia or any encyclopedia can do is to give an informed and rationally defensible reconstruction of what happened, with facts attested from cited sources. That is what is going on here. Length would only be an issue if we were paying for paper, or if the treatments were overly loquacious.Doktorschley 00:59, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Sorry Doktor, but it seems to me that you are trying to redefine both Wikipedia and encyclopedias in general. Your "an informed and rationally defensible reconstruction" is a very thinly veiled attempt to reduce an article such as this to a single "defensible reconstruction" rather than present all defensible reconstructions - as you note, the price of paper not being a hindrance here. Why state as a fact that GAC attempted to ford the river when for 131 years people of "information and good faith" have argued about that exact point? You'd be making Wiki/encyclopediae vehicles for advocacy and not sources of information. And that's not naive; it's insidious. Sensei48 15:56, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

This comment by UTC that I am trying to redefine policy should be taken seriously. When the facts can't be agreed upon by all (and in history they rarely can), and strong, defensible reconstruction using the best and widest range of evidence is the best. Right now what we have is simply a re-statement of the traditional White view, based on the quesitonable information provided by Gall that placed him in the dominant leadership role. This is unfortunate, given all the good information that has come out in the last 16 years to cast light on what really did happen that fateful day in June, 1876. The testimonies of a host of Indian participants are jettisoned to make way for the White interpretation based almost solely on Gall's account. Good historiography demands the repudiation of Gall's and these other accounts. Reliance on Ambrose's second-hand account is even more egregious, with so many first-hand sources available that are now ignored (Black Elk, White Bull, etc.).Doktorschley. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Doktorschley (talkcontribs) 07:12, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

The point at which you and I disagree, DoktorS., seems to be about what the nature of an encyclopedia article on history should be. As I read the article now, your sense of historiography is represented by the comment that "white sources" credit Gall but that Indian sources dispute that. Certainly there is room for sourced amplification about that - amplification that gives more weight to the Native accounts than the article does. Where I disagree with you is that I do not believe that the accounts of Black Elk, White Bull, Red Horse, and many more - all of which have been available in published form for half a century or more, and all of which I read as a student more than forty years ago - are the sole and exclusively valid statements about the battle. The initial forensic report on the battlefield reported by white sources - officers with Reno like Godfrey and Edgerly and others with Terry - reconstructed the engagement with the eyes of professional military men who knew cavalry tactics as well as the personalities of many of the dead officers. Some of the second hand accounts - especially Wert's and Connell's - consider those professional perspectives and the archaeological evidence of the recent investigations as well.

Those perspectives - white and Native - differ radically for both military and cultural reasons. The whites fought (or tried to fight) as disciplined, hierarchically-organized units; Native Americans fought as individuals under no chain of command. If they chose not to fight (Sitting Bull, for example), they did not do so and no taint was usually attached to the decision. The NA's "followed" a warrior as a war chief only if he had proved himself and was at that moment proving himself on that particular field of battle. It would be far more accurate to say that warriors fought with Gall or Crazy Horse than "for" or "under" them.

The consequence of this is that the NA point of view on this or any battle was horizontal, derived from the line of sight of any individual warrior, who described in the accounts what he saw and did and where he was. No Native account renders a picture of a tactical plan - because there wasn't one. Native accounts differ on even basic time/space facts such as where and when Crazy Horse and the warriors with him attacked (at the "center" in the middle of the battle or from the left rear of Last Stand Hill to end the battle?). Note as well that NA depictions of the battle - White Bull's probably the most famous - are paintings along a horizontal axis that recapture the warriors' line of sight.

But the whites were trying (as Euro militaries have since the time of the Romans and before) to understand the battle from a vertical point of view - the point of view that maps depict or that one would see from a helicopter, an over-view, if you will. Where was Co. C when Co. E was overrun? How many individuals escaped temporarily to Last Stand Hill and how many were ridden down? Was the action in the Deep Ravine at the beginning or the end of the battle? The Native accounts shed no light on these and hundreds of other questions because they were of no concern to the participants, who were focused on the defense of their families, their homes and horses, and on their own valor.

Wiki policy requires that if a controversy exists all sides of it be fairly represented in an article. Ignoring viewpoints that are not in accord with one's own violates that policy. You may prefer one source to another as more accurate and are entitled to shape the article accordingly, but not to eliminate perfectly respectable, established academic sources like Ambrose or Utley.Sensei48 (talk) 23:14, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Sensei: Thank you for restoring the article to something of its former semblance. In comparison with scholarly treatments such as Brian Perrett's in Last Stand I think it surpasses most of what is available, and is a real argument for what a collaborative effort of this sort can produce. 11 December 2007. Doktorschley.

Minor Edit - Name

Somebody keeps vandalizing the early parts of the GAC bio - I just removed two "d's" from the surname early in the article (which made references to GAC read "Custerd" - I'm guessing a really lame attempt at a pun. Idiots abound.) Sensei48 05:15, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Removal of Non-NPOV Material: "Custer Died In Victory"

The entire LBH section of this biographical article is fraught with illegitimate POV observations in both language and content, but the section I am removing - "Custer Died In Victory" - transgresses the most basic Wikipedia dictate for inclusion in an article: non Neutral Point Of View (the title of the section itself betrays this) and no adequate sourcing, since the links in the section purporting to support that POV lead directly to a web blog written by the author of this Wiki section. That is not sourcing: see WP:SOAP[[1]] and No Original Research[[2]]. Except for the reincarnation part, I would not oppose re-introduction of the ideas - that the LBH victory ultimately contributed to the defeat of the Plains peoples - properly supported and written dispassionately. Sensei48 06:41, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Editing Out NPOV Material II: Last Paragraph Of "Controversial Legacy"

The section on LBH and in fact most of Custer's post-Civil War activities have seen substantial improvements in objectivity and support in recent months. That is what makes the following paragraph, the final one in "Controversial Legacy," stand apart from the general upgrade. Here is the paragraph:

Many criticized Custer's actions during the battle of the Little Bighorn, claiming his actions were impulsive and foolish,[citation needed] while others praised him as a fallen hero who was betrayed by the incompetence of his subordinate officers.[citation needed] The controversy over who is to blame for the disaster at Little Bighorn rages to this day. Yet plenty of criticism can be directed at Custer. His worst mistake was to divide his force in the face of mounting evidence of superior Indian numbers.[1] Yet he had made at least two significant errors before that. Overconfident in the campaign, despite intelligence that said he would be facing at least 1000-1500 warriors, and thus outnumbered nearly two-to-one, or closer to three-to-one[2], Custer on 21 June, 1876 had refused the offer another battalion by General Terry. He had even left a battery of Gatling guns parked at the riverboat Far West on the Yellowstone River.[3] Such rash decisions deprived his command of critical support and firepower in the campaign, errors that would bear fruit four days later.

The excellent opening of this paragraph is undercut by its highly opinionated conclusion - a conclusion that in fact abandons any pretense of NPOV. The phrase "rages to this day" is the last factual statement in the paragraph. Once again, the editor slips into the smokescreen of passive voice immediately thereafter: "Yet plenty of criticism can be directed at Custer. His worst mistake was to divide his force..." - "Can be directed" - By whom? And why? What is the point of advancing such an agenda-driven observation in an NPOV biographical article? The easy solution - one that I will edit in unless reasonable argument can be made on this Talk page against doing so - is to attribute those criticisms to third parties (easy to do so given the legion of GAC critics) and then to balance them with the counter-arguments to the main points about Gatling guns (impractical), division of command (worked at Washita) and overwhelming numbers (not an obstacle to earlier victories - see my comments in the LBH Talk page). That act of balancing is what NPOV means. The assumption of controversy-ending authority by a single auctorial voice (as above) is not. Sensei48 16:21, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I have taken out this egregiously and offensively POV paragraph again and will continue to do so. If its author wishes it to remain, it needs to be packaged as described above - with a balanced, NPOV presentation of informed and scholarly opinions that differ from this. I am frankly appalled at a) the supposition that a paragraph such as this is anything other than gross opinion and that b) anyone who would presume to write about GAC would do so without understanding the issues of the numbers and the Gatling gunsSensei48 20:44, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Sensei: I would not mind editing the language, but Custer's refusal of firepower and reinforcements, as well as his dividing his forces, contradicted both present and contemporary military doctrine. These actions are documentable, and should not be left out of the treatment, however you want to word them. 11 December 2007. Doktorschley. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Doktorschley (talkcontribs) 05:58, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

DoktorS: I can certainly agree and see the value of including these points,documented as you say. But I do believe the wording is crucial to NPOV treatment. GAC had plenty of critics at the time who blamed him completely for the disaster for these and other reasons. I think the critique as a mistake should be phrased as their observations and charges. Others like Gen. Nelson Miles (likely for political reasons) defended GAC - Miles even stated that he "admired" Custer's tactics at LBH, and the precedent (which I believe misled GAC into his fatal misjudgements) from the Washita battle parallel LBH here. In any event, I'd be happy to see a fair presentation of these two criticisms in the article. The refusal of companies from the Second Cavalry is an equally significant point that can be presented as a serious mistake. Sensei48 (talk) 08:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree. As you point out, a large part of the problem is the phraseology used, not necessarily the points being made. It's fine to report that many historians think Custer made a number of significant errors, and to name some of those historians. It's not okay to state as if it were a historical fact things like "Custer made many mistakes", because that's ultimately a matter of opinion, even if it's one held by many people. The offending language is actually quite well-sourced; what's most important is changing things like "Custer made lots of mistakes [citing John Doe]" to things like "Many historians, such as John Doe [cite] have pointed to what they consider many mistakes made by Custer". --Miskwito 21:39, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes, and you explain it better than I. I'd stand by the thought, however - and a valid one - that in addition to these criticisms there are other respected historians (sourcable) who differ sharply on exactly these points. I retain the (likely vain) hope that an article such as this can be a valuable NPOV source and not an extension of someone's blog. BTW, nice to see you back in my part of the Wiki world, away for a moment from your linguistic interests. Sensei48 01:13, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Query For Doktorschley: Latest Edit

Hello DoktorS. - I think most of your most recent edit improves the LBH section of the GAC article substantially. I wonder if you would consent to a slight revision to accommodate differing speculative views of the GAC battalion fighting. Would you permit a change from your "led his command to the northern end" to "led his command toward the northern end," which could act as a preface to adding the phrase "According to Indian accounts" before your "he was driven from the ford..."? Doing so would allow your take on the action, based it would seem greatly on Michno's work, to occupy center stage in the discussion while at the same time acknowledging the existence of competing theories, including the more traditional view that I've advanced on the Talk pages suggesting that the GAC wing of the battalion never made it to the river - a view that I know you know was and is held by many scholars of the battle and disputed by an equal or greater number. I am not going to revise it unilaterally; I would rather that you, I, and other editors could agree on language appropriate to communicating to the general reader the differing points of view.Sensei48 05:01, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Sensei: This is all fine, but someone deleted all this stuff and rewrote the account according to the accepted White account, based solely on the self-serving and disputed testimony of Gall. It is a shame. I am just reading your note and it makes sense. The article has worsened considerably. Doktorschley, 11 December 2007. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.221.125.144 (talk) 05:37, 12 December 2007 (UTC) ~~Doktorschley

Sensei48: I take it that you are the one who restored the article. Again, thanks. Wikipedia says it needs more sourcing. Is there any way the editorial staff can note those instances where sources are required and some of us can run these down? Please let me know.~~Doktorschley 12 December 2007 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.221.125.144 (talk) 16:50, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

More Editing Needed

The section on the LBH battle is hugely improved, but there are two points that need addressing. The first is this paragraph:

Meanwhile, unaware of Reno's failure, Custer had led his command to the northern end the main encampment, where he apparently planned to sandwich the Indians between his attacking troopers and Reno's command. He was driven from the ford at that end of the camp and was pursued by hundreds of warriors onto a ridge north of the encampment, where he was prevented from digging in by Crazy Horse, whose warriors had outflanked Custer and were now to his north, at the crest of the ridge.[17] Traditional white accounts attribute to Gall the attack that drove Custer up onto the ridge, but Indian witnesses have disputed that account.[18] For a time, Custer's men were deployed by company, in standard cavalry fighting formation--the skirmish line, with every fourth man holding the horses. This arrangement, however, robbed Custer of a quarter of his firepower, and as the fight intensified, many soldiers took to holding their own horses or hobbling them, further reducing their effective fire. When Crazy Horse and White Bull mounted the charge that broke through the center of Custer's lines, pandemonium broke out among the men of Calhoun's and Keogh's command.[19] Many of the panicking soldiers threw down their weapons[20] and either rode or ran towards the knoll where Custer, the other officers, and about 40 men were making a stand. Along the way, the Indians rode them down, counting coup by whacking the fleeing troopers with their quirts or lances.[21]

The problem with it is that no one knows absolutely what the nature of the action of Custer's battalion was. Some Lakota reported that the conflict was as short as twenty minutes or a half an hour and was of the nature of a "buffalo run"; other attribute a longer duration of an hour or more. The fact is that two hundred plus bodies were found two days later scattered across a wide area; some were in groups, others alone. The native accounts conflict about whether or to what degree there was command and control in the different "wings" of this battalion, and the archaeological evidence (and reports at a distance from cavalry survivors like the Reno/Benteen combined battalion, trumpeter Martini, and others)are ambiguous. The overall point is that the observations here should be reported as a speculative reconstruction, not as incontrovertible fact. How do we know, for example, that "pandemonium" broke out? Or that the skirmish line included the stated per centage of horse holder? I'm queasy about the reliance on a very limited number of good but opinionated historians (Utley and Michno), neither of whom are "academics" in the traditional sense of the word. Additionally, I have expressed my hesitation above about the certitude with which a previous editor has related Custer's actual movements, especially since this is still a point of debate.

Second, this section is illustrative of a related problem:

The Indians fielded over 1800 warriors,[22] although historically, the numbers do seem to have been exaggerated to explain Custer's defeat, and again, to exculpate him from his numerous errors before and during the battle. As the troopers were cut down, moreover, the Indians stripped the dead of their firearms and ammunition, with the result that the return fire from the cavalry steadily decreased, while the fire from the Indians steadily increased.

The suggestion of exaggerated numbers to "exculpate" GAC from his "numerous errors" - and the latter phrase itself, are bald POV statements, unsourced and unsourcable. By way of contrast, the observation about the Indians picking up and using the weapons of slain troopers is supportable (but is not annotated here) by the archaeological evidence from the mid-1980s onward.

A simple fix would be to identify the first of these paragraphs as a speculative reconstruction and to re-phrase the second.

Sensei: The 1800 figure is about halfway between the low of 900 suggested by one writer, and the high of 3000 that was given by earlier White authors. The goal was indeed to exculpate Custer, as the subsequent court-martials and military treatment of Reno demonstrate. I will go back and research all of this if you want me to. Otherwise, this passage is not a "bald POV statement", but is comprised demonstrable facts, almost all of which I annotated over the several weeks I was working on the passage. First, Custer refused reinforcements at the Far West on the Yellowstone four days earlier; second, he refused a battery of Gatling guns. Finally, on the day of the battle, Custer divided his command in the face of vastly superior numbers. These actions all constitute documentable, demonstrable errors according to generally accepted military doctrine, both then and now. The Indians stripping the dead troopers of their weapons is documented in any number of Indian accounts. I cited White Bull's and Black Elk's originally, and don't know what became of the citations. Michno's work has more.11 December 2007. Doktorschley. DoktorS: I can agree that the Reno Inquiry indeed was aimed at exculpating GAC; I'm not so sure that the subsequent century of a number of academically developed White theories were all formulated to do the same thing. Again, I favor as narrow a presentation as substantiatable facts allow. Because of my sense of why white and Native accounts differ on key points (outlined above), I think that the accounts from White Bull and Black Elk gain additional weight from the archaeological results from 1984-1985 which traced the movement of individual weapons across the battlefield by following and forensically identifying shell casings (yes, back to the archeology).

I'm sorry about your deleted references. While I enjoy trading opposing observations with you and other objectively inclined editors, I am getting a bit tired of the vandals and bloggers who enter the article and try to bend it either toward political correctness or revisionist adulation of GAC. I do appreciate your efforts and research to try to establish an article of value, even when I disagree with your conclusions or judgments. I am confident that you and I and like-minded editors can establish an article that fairly represents the best scholarship about this still-controversial topic.

Sensei48: Thanks for your work on this. We don't have to agree on everything, and in fact the forecful debate is improving the article. I would just like to know where to enter in the information on GAC refusing Gatling Guns and reinforcements while preparing to depart from the Yellowstone 4 days earlier, and on dividing his command. These are demonstrable facts, and however anyone spins them (and I deliberately put them in the controversial legacy section because these actions remain controversial), they had a decisive outcome on the battle, and on Custer's life.~~Doktorschley. 12 December 2007.

Sensei48: Also, these actions by Custer are so egregious and had such an important outcome during the battle, that modern readers need to know about them to form their own conclusions about these events. I had heard this information from various sources, but could not source it until I got my hands on Goodrich's excellent work, Scalp Dance, in which he compiles both Indian and soldiers' accounts. Anyway, so while I am not disputing the NPOV, the information should be included. It's just a question, as I see it, as to where and how to include this information. Wikipedia does best when it can give and source this kind of information.~

DoktorS: I think that your points about the Gatling guns, division of command, and refusal of more troops are correctly placed as you did initially in "Controversial Legacy." Perhaps you could replace them there and I could add a sentence (one that would not undercut your point but simply allude to the older theories). For our own standards and satisfaction, I think we should both source our observations, and I know we both can. As far as your query elsewhere on this page about sourcing goes - those "citation needed" insertions were placed by another editor. I tend to agree that each of those in "Controversial Legacy" would make the section stronger - I can source a couple of them from GAC's My Life On The Plains. Maybe you could list a source of two for the observations that GAC has come under fire in recent years for his actions. Finally, I tried to restore some of your editings that a vandal had removed, but I couldn't get to all of them and I could not find your excellent documentation. Back to work on this, I guess.

Sensei48: I think you did a great job on restoring what was taken out, and I will look at adding anything that I think needs to be there. Over the Christmas break, I will look into sourcing as much of the citation-needed places [though I did not enter them]. I did alot of this when I was on my 7-week fall "sabbatical". Thanks for your excellent work.~~Doktorschley.

Sensei48: I have added back in the information deleted from the "Controversial Legacy" section, and will complete fleshing out the reference wiht page numbers tonight when I have Goodrich's book in hand again. I consolidated the references in the earlier posting to one in this one, but will see if this need further beefing up. Once the article is up to where you want it, you could limit the editing.~~Doktorschley. Sensei48: I beefed up the Goodrich reference with the exact page numbers, and also added references and insights from Grinnell's account, based on the testimony of the Cheyennes in the fight. Notes and references both updated in both the GAC and LBH accounts.~~Doktorschley.

DoktorS: Allow me to congratulate you (and I hope I'm not being presumptuous here) for the excellent additions that you've made here and on the LBH article regarding armaments. I think that the Goodrich references really give the points some serious weight, and I very much like the professional and objective way that you've integrated them into the existing writing. I also especially appreciate the way that you phrased the Indian accounts about the GAC battalion troop movements, allowing for some leeway in understanding the problems with ascertaining the exact movements while giving what I think is appropriate weight to the Cheyenne accounts that you source from Goodrich. I too will be on a Christmas break and intend to do a bit of sourcing work here. I'm not sure if your interest in these Plains wars extends beyond LBH, but we have some POV, sourcing and editing issues going on also over on the Battle of Washita article. It could use some perspective and commitment to accuracy that your work here demonstrates. Again, I really think that the additions you've made have all but completed the task of turning this into an article of which all of us who have worked on it can be genuinely proud.Sensei48 (talk) 08:00, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I would like soon to add a sentence regarding the tactics and suggest a change to the comment about the Keogh/Calhoun formations. Here is an example of a testimony vs. archeology conflict. The Indians had no way of knowing who Keogh and Calhoun were or exactly where. Forensic investigation in the immediate aftermath suggested to the Terry/Reno observers that Calhoun was overwhelmmed on Calhoun Hill and that command structure dissolved; a small number from his company were found between his command and Last Stand Hill and on Last Stand Hill. But the bodies of Keogh's men were found almost completely in tact as a company, in good order suggesting an in tact skirmish line. The 1984 archeology found a very large number of shell casings around the markers for each man, and a nearly identical number per trooper. This all suggests that Keogh's company maintained good discipline until they were all killed - neither a "buffalo run" nor pandemonium as the Natives remember. The clearest summary source of this is in Connell's section on Keogh. More on this later.

I concur wholeheartedly. That would mean it was Calhoun's men who were the subject of the "buffalo run". I don't disbelieve the Native account, but this is the kind of distinction that would also have gotten lost in the heat of battle.~~Doktorschley. 13 December 2007 <

January 31, 2008 Lead - Why Rewritten

I commend the energy and professionalism of editor HLJ for the clean-up of infobox material. but the rewritten lead into the article tries to do too much, especially since the proper sections for much of the information in that edit appear below, notably in the well-crafted and laboriously produced sections on GAC's Civil War career. I believe that Hlj adds some interesting new information - but details about GAC's career and death should not precede birth and family in the article. I believe HLJ's edit upset some of the balance that the article demonstrated prior to that edit. I'd invite HLJ to re-integrate some of the relevant material into sections other than the lead. Sensei48 (talk) 22:31, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

I disagree with you here Sensei48, for several reasons, not the least of which is the version you restored has zero wikilinks where there were a dozen or so before. I prefer Hal's version to the one which existed on the page before, and certainly to the non-wikified version which occupies the slot as of this edit. BusterD (talk) 01:40, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
The reason I expanded it is that guidelines for the lead section (WP:LS) indicate "... the lead section as a whole should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article." The new length of the lead section also meets with the guidelines of that page. At one time I recall discussions that indicated a printed version of Wikipedia might consist solely of the lead sections from selected articles. I do not believe that any of the information I added to the lead section cannot be found already in later portions of the article. (I generally limit myself to Civil War topics so I did not make much of a change to the Little Big Horn summary, even though I think excessive detail was given to his Indian opponents.) Hal Jespersen (talk) 02:14, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks to BusterD and Hlj for their justifications. The wiki-links aspect of the edit is necessary, I'm sure, and were the edit confined to that I would have no inclination to touch it. Further, I know that Hlj is responsible for much of the considered and detailed sections on GAC's Civil War period of service.
However - if in fact the current lead were to become a precis of GAC's life for inclusion in a printed Wiki, I would have serious reservations regarding it in terms of proportion and emphasis. Custer's Civil War career has as noted been under-played and neglected, most likely because of his dramatic final defeat at LBH. Jeffery Wert and others have sought to rectify this in print in recent years. But scores of Civil War generals played parts in that drama as singular as Custer's or more so; the fact that many of them are not household names or flashpoints of controversy a century and more later derives not from GAC's Civil War service but from his actions, mostly military but also political, on the Plains. To equate in importance what Custer did in the Civil War with what he did on the Plains by creating paragraphs of about equal length (and I believe the CW one is more involved in terms of detail) strikes me as at least mildly distorted.
The answer might be to expand the Plains Wars section of the lead significantly. I still think it's already too long (as I've said), but if it is going to remain in the form that it is, I for one would be happier with more balance.
And on a completely minor note - I'm curious as to why GAC's "humiliating defeat"and loss of baggage (including the personal letters published in the Richmond newspapers) following Trevilian Station merits mention in a precis over and as opposed to, say,the specifics of the charges at Gettsyburg or the defeat and killing of Stuart at Yellow Tavern, both of which were far more significant and had a lot more to do with the outcome of the war than the comparatively minor embarrassment of losing some uniforms and underwear to a former classmate.Sensei48 (talk) 04:22, 1 February 2008 (UTC) J.K. Moran
Addendum - from WP:LS - "The emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic according to reliable, published sources" - hence my concern that too much weight is given in this rewrite to the Civil War career. LBH is reputed to be second only to Gettysburg among American battles (and third only to Waterloo worldwide)in terms of the number of books and articles published about it. I'm not sure such a statement is verifiable in any way, but it is indicative of a trend at least.Sensei48 (talk) 05:32, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
I believe I see what you're saying, Sensei48. If I understand correctly, you believe the three paragraph lede gives undue weight to his ACW service, while understating his western service. I take your point, and perhaps even Hal is sensitive to what you've said. You've also mentioned the lede length, and you may have a point here too. All that being said, Hal's introduction has the benefit of clarity, inclusiveness, and excellent wikilinks to pagespace to which a Custer browser might want to visit. My experience is that when a pagespace gets mature enough, it's time to upgrade the intro to about 3-4 paras, then keep slimming the intro over time until it pretty much says what it should. That's what Hal has done, build the intro up. It needs a copyedit or two, IMHO, and will need time to mature. If you feel Custer's Indian wars experience needs more emphasis, this is the time to add another paragraph. If you want to trim what Hal has inserted, I'm sure he has no personal investment to defend, and would appreciate the copyedit. Reverting to a damaged (unlinked) version of the original lede seemed a bit harsh action. BusterD (talk) 14:15, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Thank you BusterD for a balanced rationale. In no way did I intend the revert to be harsh or final - I went to Hal's user:Talk page to explain again why I reverted and to invite conversation about it. Most of the sections of this article following Civil War service have reached their current states through reversion (too often unexplained) and re-editing. For the moment, I'll try a re-draft of the paragraph on the post-Civil War GAC career and post it for consideration (or - reversion - add smiley). Sensei48 (talk) 15:32, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
I certainly do not object to modifications of my work that represent improvements within Wikipedia guidelines. If the consensus of editors is that his Plains service needs to dominate, so be it. As I said, I am primarily interested in the Civil War and I did not expand any of the information in the previous lead paragraph about activities post-1865. However, you should notice that the article itself devotes considerable length to the Civil War, so there should be a rough balance of content in the lead section. My personal opinion, echoed by a number of Civil War aficionados, is that Custer's very significant Civil War contributions have been unfairly eclipsed in popular history by Little Big Horn. He was arguably the most interesting Union cavalry commander in the Eastern theater and some historians have come to believe that he was the unsung hero of the battle of Gettysburg. (My other personal opinion about this article is that there is too much detail about the Battle of Little Big Horn. Typically, Wikipedia biographies spend a few paragraphs on such subjects and refer to the main battle articles for the details. However, as I have said, I have only reviewed or edited the Civil War portions of this article.) Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:00, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Here's what I'd like to see: Para 1) Two to three punchy sentences identifying Custer; Para 2) An abbreviated version of the ACW narrative, the biggest paragraph; Para 3) An enlarged version of the IW narrative including his death at LBH, the second largest paragraph; Para 4) Three to four sentences mentioning the influence of his death on his legacy in history, his wife's influence, and the comparatively large interest in his biography. BusterD (talk) 16:11, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
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