A National Phenomenon – George Armstrong Custer
A long time ago, a person wrote an article about judging historical figures from the 20th century perspective, cautioning readers to use a wide lens. George Armstrong Custer is one of those historical, larger-than-life characters requiring an uncritical mindset at the beginning of the research. According to the librarian at the Monroe County Library in Monroe, Michigan, no other historical figure has had as many books written about him as Custer. Just mention his last name and most people recall Custer was a Civil War hero, Indian fighter, and died in the line of duty as the commander of the famed Seventh Cavalry attacking a sleeping village of innocent Native Americans.
Discovering the truth, setting aside the myths or legends about Custer, from a distance of 137 years is time consuming but not very difficult. While I cannot interview the man, or anyone who knew him personally or casually, what I do have is a staggering amount of government documents from West Point Military Academy and the U.S. Army available to me. In addition, personal letters written by Custer to his wife, family members, friends, superior officers, and books he wrote describing his life on the plains, serial articles he wrote for magazines and lectures he gave on his adventurous life. I can also read the many numerous books written about Custer authored by fellow U.S. Army officers both friend and foe. Moreover, I cannot overlook the numbers of books written by Custer scholars and historians in this century.
My journey into Custer’s world began with a story idea I had where he and his wife are secondary characters, hometown neighbors and friends of my heroine. What I learned about Custer made me want to call him George or Autie as a friend would call him. I would also like to ask him “What were you thinking, George, when you . . .”
I decided to write a series of blog articles about the controversial boy-general, focusing on the myths surrounding Custer’s military career and some of his personal life. I am not a Custer scholar or historian. I have a passion for writing inspirational historical romance and want to pass along some of the information I have found in my research.
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