General Custer’s defeat and obituary (1876)

The fierce Sioux

Details of Custer’s defeat

The massacre

The massacre of the Custer party in the Big Horn river ambuscade was the principal topic of conversation yesterday. General Custer was known as the bravest of the brave men, but in view of the dispatches received so far it was generally felt that the dash and bravery of a Custer or a Kilpatrick, with their waiving of judgment to be in the front in a fight, could only be atoned for in the fact that the old motto, de mortius nil nisi bonum, wiped out every pang of the death of the brave three hundred who followed him, and excused disobedience of orders in the man who led them his reckless way. So it is with the engineer who dies wrecking a train and killing all the passengers.

The massacre of the brave Custer and his brave force is generally looked upon by Congressmen and well-read and experienced army officers as the most horrible thing in history outside of the Spanish Inquisition, as detailed by Leorento, and the Democratic house comes in for the larger share of the glory of it. Reducing the army is a good peace policy, and Sitting Bull is a good man to exemplify it. He is the chief of the so-called mythical Teton Sioux, for whom the Democrats have for three years argued against an appropriation for supplies, on the ground that they did not exist. General Custer was a Democrat, and the probabilities are now that the army will not be so materially reduced as Sam Randall has proposed. The gory track in a Montana ravine, where two hundred brave men lie buried in a mass, is a warning.

>> Also see: Dispatches from Custer’s last stand (1876)

The fallen braves

General George A Custer

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General Custer, reported killed in a fight with the Indians a few days since, was born in Ohio about the year 1844. He was educated at the West Point Military Academy, whence he was graduated in 1861, a year in advance of the ordinary course. He at once entered active service, having been appointed a second lieutenant in the 2nd Cavalry on the 24th of June. On the 17th of July, 1862, he was appointed a first lieutenant in the 5th Cavalry, and on the 8th of May, 1864, was promoted captain of the same regiment in the regular army.

Meanwhile, owing to meritorious services, his promotion in the volunteer service and by brevet commissions was much more rapid. He was brevetted a major July 3, 1863, for gallant conduct at Gettysburg; a lieutenant colonel May 11, 1864; a colonel September 19, 1864, and a brigadier and major general March 13, 1865. He was made brigadier general of volunteers June 29 1863, and major general of volunteers April 15, 1865. He was mustered out of the volunteer service February 1, 1866.

The Seventh regiment of cavalry was organized July 28, 1866, and General Custer was appointed its lieutenant colonel the same day. This position he has held in service on the frontier for nearly ten years without promotion.

General Custer was a great favorite with his men, and generally popular with his brother officers.

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Top photo: General George Armstrong Custer in 1865; Photo 2: Scene of Gen. Custer’s last stand [The Battle of the Little Bighorn] looking in the direction of the ford and the Indian village. A pile of bones on the Little Big Horn battlefield is all that remains (c1877)

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