Gwynn Compton wrote:How is the history of Little Big Horn taught in American schools? I've always been under the impression that it was taught as if Custer was some hero...
On the same line of thought, how is the history of Wounded Knee taught? Is it portrayed as the massacre or as an actual battle?
It used to be taught that he was a hero, before it became fashionable to tear down real heroes and pump up paper pushing buffoons like Schwartzkopf and Eisenhower and Westmoreland and drunken fools like Grant who was terribly profligate with the lives of his men. That's why McClellan (who's name was mispelled in an earlier post) was relieved, he was more cautious than Grant and didn't engage in getting his men slaughtered unnecessarily. He was highly popular with his troops, unlike Grant, for that reason. He was made a scapegoat by Lincoln partisans. Grant was one of the worst field commanders ever (along with Braxton Bragg), and a thoroughly corrupt politician. He simply won because he had more lives and resources to waste. If what the guy who posted before the post I'm replying to is getting taught the bilgewater at "Infantry School" with apparently no real study of the battle, of Custer's orders or of what he knew or was told before
the survivors started villifying him to cover their own cowardly asses, it's no wonder the U.S. military got run out of North Korea, lost in Vietnam and is getting its ass kicked in Iraq and Afhganistan. BTW, my father was a career soldier who joined the army at age 15 in 1942, landed at Omaha Beach at age 17 and was awarded a battlefield commission and a Silver Star for the same action in Korea.
When I rode to Sturgis, S.D. for the annual biker rally in late July, 2003, I stopped at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. There some Indian female college intern Park Ranger was giving the new and politically correct version of George Armstrong Custer, the 1876 campaign and the battle to visitors. Off the side, as I was walking up, some older, gray haired Indian male had button-holed some tourist telling him "I'm not supposed to be here" as in the army in 1876 was on some sort of genocide mission (uh, who committed genocide on that hill?). About 5 minutes into her tirade, I interrupted this woman, because I could tolerate no more of this, told her "You're full of (feces), you know nothing about the battle, the personalities and what went before. I could do a better job of instructing here, since I've actually read books by serious scholars and survivors of the regiment and studied it for many years, you've got an agenda". After that I proceeded to so for about 45 minutes. It was not my first trip to the battlefield, but hadn't been there for about 15 years. I recommended some books such as To Hell With Honor-Custer and the Little Big Horn, and concluded with pointing to that monument to the Indians, called it an abomination that was about as appropriate as putting up a memorial to the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, and then continued my tour of the battlefield. I got applause as I was walking away. The "Rangers" looked like they wanted to kill, the feeling was mutual.
I could go into the details of the march across the divide, and the splitting of the command, and of the failures of the battalion commanders Reno (a more wretched officer may never have served the army and it's a disgrace that they finally put his remains at the LBH cemetary) and Benteen (a bitter spiteful, hateful and jealous man but at least a brave soldier); but that is not what this thread is for. If you read just one book on this action, read To Hell With Honor by Larry Sklenar. You'll learn more than from any other single source.