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General Custer ... or not???

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  • General Custer ... or not???

    On page 8 of the July issue, I read how George Custer was the youngest Major General ever in the US Army. The article about Custer on page 14 is called "General Custer, what about those Gatling guns?" yet in the article Custer is called Lieutenant Colonel Custer???

    This had me confused so I did some research. Custer's regular Army rank was Lt Col. But he also held the rank of Brevet Major General.

    My understanding is that meant he was paid as a Lt. Col but could call himself a Maj General.

    Is that right? Is the Major General rank achieved by Gavin a true Maj General thereby making Gavin the youngest true MG ever in the US Army?

  • #2
    Re: General Custer ... or not???

    Originally posted by WestPointer
    On page 8 of the July issue, I read how George Custer was the youngest Major General ever in the US Army. The article about Custer on page 14 is called "General Custer, what about those Gatling guns?" yet in the article Custer is called Lieutenant Colonel Custer???

    This had me confused so I did some research. Custer's regular Army rank was Lt Col. But he also held the rank of Brevet Major General.

    My understanding is that meant he was paid as a Lt. Col but could call himself a Maj General.

    Is that right? Is the Major General rank achieved by Gavin a true Maj General thereby making Gavin the youngest true MG ever in the US Army?
    General Custer was promoted to General during the Civil War because of ability and the huge growth of the US Army. This was a brevet rank. After the war, the US Army "downsized" and General Custer's rank was Lt Col. He was entitled to be referred to as General Custer because of his rank as General in the Civil War.

    General Gavin was prmoted because of ability and huge growth of the US Army in World War II. Although the US Army "downsized" after World War II, reduction in rank was not part of the process.

    I think both can be considered "true" Generals since both led divisions in a war time situation. IMHO, this still entitles General Custer to the claim of youngest. He was and did perform the duty of a General in a war time situation.

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    • #3
      While you have the brevet rank you have the authority and responsibilty of that rank...so yes he qualifies.
      Publisher
      Armchair General Magazine
      Weider History Group

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Keef
        While you have the brevet rank you have the authority and responsibilty of that rank...so yes he qualifies.
        I agree. Funny though ... after the US Civil War there were a lot of generals in charge of regiments!

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        • #5
          Could someone explain "brevet" to me please? Is it synonymous to temporary or honorary?
          http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

          Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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          • #6
            I think its root is from the french word which means brief... it is a temporary rank given to officers during wartime when the ranks swell. Officers are promoted quickly so as to have enough officers to go around. When the war ends, they go back to their pre-war rank.
            Publisher
            Armchair General Magazine
            Weider History Group

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Keef
              I think its root is from the french word which means brief... it is a temporary rank given to officers during wartime when the ranks swell. Officers are promoted quickly so as to have enough officers to go around. When the war ends, they go back to their pre-war rank.
              10-4!
              http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

              Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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              • #8
                Re: General Custer ... or not???

                Originally posted by WestPointer
                On page 8 of the July issue, I read how George Custer was the youngest Major General ever in the US Army. The article about Custer on page 14 is called "General Custer, what about those Gatling guns?" yet in the article Custer is called Lieutenant Colonel Custer???

                This had me confused so I did some research. Custer's regular Army rank was Lt Col. But he also held the rank of Brevet Major General.

                My understanding is that meant he was paid as a Lt. Col but could call himself a Maj General.

                Is that right? Is the Major General rank achieved by Gavin a true Maj General thereby making Gavin the youngest true MG ever in the US Army?
                There was a history channel documentary that stated that there was no Custer's last stand. It's true. There was no stand and the Native American version of the story ended up true

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                • #9
                  Re: Re: General Custer ... or not???

                  Originally posted by nreese21
                  There was a history channel documentary that stated that there was no Custer's last stand. It's true. There was no stand and the Native American version of the story ended up true
                  Latest historical evidence shows there was a "last stand" but at the very end, many of the troopers were broken by sheer numbers and many groups of troopers attempted to escape. The Native-Americans refused to take prosioners and butchered the living and wounded. The bodies of USA Servicemen were also desecrated. Their is alos strong evidence that one or more of Benteen's men were tortured to death.

                  The Native American version of the story is as varied and different as the number of witnesses and in many case, was not properly recorded due to language barriers, cultural differences, racism, politics and fear.

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                  • #10
                    You should check out that episode.

                    Battlefield Detectives: Custer's Last Stand

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                    • #11
                      Re: Re: Re: General Custer ... or not???

                      Originally posted by Custer
                      Latest historical evidence shows there was a "last stand" but at the very end, many of the troopers were broken by sheer numbers and many groups of troopers attempted to escape. The Native-Americans refused to take prosioners and butchered the living and wounded. The bodies of USA Servicemen were also desecrated. Their is alos strong evidence that one or more of Benteen's men were tortured to death.

                      The Native American version of the story is as varied and different as the number of witnesses and in many case, was not properly recorded due to language barriers, cultural differences, racism, politics and fear.
                      Native American oral tradition is often the most accurate. Do NOT discount its veracity JUST because it is not a written history.
                      Lance W.

                      Peace through superior firepower.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Re: Re: Re: General Custer ... or not???

                        Originally posted by Lance Williams
                        Native American oral tradition is often the most accurate. Do NOT discount its veracity JUST because it is not a written history.
                        Not discounting it at all. I do have troubles with the way it was recorded though. Because of language barriers, racism, and cultural differneces, what the Native American was saying and what was recorded are often two different things.

                        Also, many Native Americans (like all other humans), realized that it was personally beneficial to say what "they wanted to hear" rather than what happened.

                        Aslo, many had an agenda.

                        Oral history is very good at recording emotions, not so good for facts. This is true for Native Americans, as well as, all humans.

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                        • #13
                          I never understood what the attraction was to this (arguable) "last stand"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nreese21
                            I never understood what the attraction was to this (arguable) "last stand"
                            For me, it is the solving of a mystery. When you get right down to it, we simply are not sure what happened at the end. When did General Custer die? Did his brothers die first? What affect did the death of the Custer family members have on the millitary command decisions? Did the men attempt to signal Benteen/Reno? At what point did General Custer (or his replacement) make various decisions? What were the percieved facts that those military decisions were based on?

                            Many feel that "The Last Stand" was really an attempt at an organized volley fire by the troopers to let Benteen know where they were and the direction at whcih Benteen should "march to the sound of battle".

                            Also, a last stand denotes the belief that they held out to the end and persihed honorably and did not break under overwhelming odds. They "died with their boots on". To some, a breakdown of military order at the end could be construed as bad leadership or cowardice.

                            The belief that a last stand was heroic and the mark of good leadership and good soldiers was held very closely immediately after the battle. News of the defeat hit the East around July 4, 1876...the 100th anniversary of our country. Many tried to find comfort in the fact that they "died like heores" fighting to the very end despite overwhelming numbers. This attitude was held by many for years afterward.....even into the 1940's. Errol Flynn played General Custer right before World War II in a movie called "They Died With Their Boots On" (1941). Although, the political climate at the time (USA about to go into World War II) created a film that said more about World War II America then Gerneral Custer, some themes of the "Heroic Last Stand" were present in the film.

                            And sadly, for many, our history is determined by Hollywood then and now.

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                            • #15
                              Custer Documentary

                              I think the Custer documentary in question here is the one produced by Bill Curtis who also narrated it. If so, then it is one Curtis produced around 1997 and in which I was somewhat involved in when I was the Director of the Army's Combat Studies Institute, the 'history department' of the US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. My deputy, the distinguished historian, Dr. W. Glenn Robertson, appears on camera as a 'talking head' at several points in the documentary.

                              Although we at CSI were not responsible for the final product, we tried to provide Curtis with what we felt was the latest scholarship on the subject, including the continuing 'discoveries' by our friend, Dr. Doug Scott--the forensic archaeologist who conducted the field studies on the battlefield after the prairie fire in 1983. Doug lectures at Ft. Leavenworth each year on that ground-breaking archaeological investigation, and seems to come up with something new for each lecture.

                              If I recall correctly, the documentary spent quite a bit of time investigating whether or not Reno and Benteen could hear the "volley firing" by Custer, and suggesting that Reno and Benteen were somehow derelict in their duty by not "marching to the sound of the guns". That seems to me to be somewhat of a 'red herring'. Although both Reno and Benteen claimed that they, personally, heard no such firing, several members of their command, including several officers such as Lt. Charles Varnum, clearly heard volley firing around 4:25pm. The idea that Reno and Benteen could have done something about it, however, seems far-fetched. Prompted by Captain Weir, D company commander, an effort was indeed made to move toward Custer's presumed location, but made it no farther than Weir Point where Indian pressure sent all of them scrambling back to Reno Hill.

                              As far as the question of "last stands" goes, there was likely more than one "last stand", since the Calhoun (L company) position and Keogh's I company position were both individually overrun, presumably, before the position on Last Stand Hill where Custer's body was found was 'overrun'. 41 corpses and 39 horse carcasses were found at Last Stand Hill, more or less in the positions where the markers are found today, south of the Monument. Arguing over the issue of a "last stand" is mainly an argument about semantics. Whether this marks a "Last stand" or not, it certainly marks the position where the men died.

                              The Indian accounts, when properly put into cultural context and when white prejudice is ignored, are generally consistent with Dr. Scott's archaeological evidence.

                              By the way, in Armchair General, Issue 6 (January 2005) we're featuring 3 major articles on Custer, the Little Bighorn battle, and a Walk Where They Fought tour of Custer's entire approach march from Busby, MT to Last Stand Hill on that final day.
                              J.D. Morelock
                              Editor in Chief
                              Armchair General Magazine

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