Wednesday, June 25, 2008

History: 132 years ago on the Greasy Grass; TV: 44 years ago on the tube

In her own fine blog, Friend Tamara makes note that this is the anniversary of George A. Custer’s demise at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. It is strange that this is how that conflict is known to most people. It is more customary for the victors in a battle to provide a label for the event. The Lakota referred to it as the Battle of Greasy Grass Creek.

Battle of Greasy Grass byTucson Artist Allan Mardon

One commenter, Ben, wrote, “Anyone else remember 'The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms'?'

Too bad you couldn't bring up the tank. It woulda helped.'

For some reason, I was thinking of that excellent fantasy/time warp episode of "The Twilight Zone" just the other day. I didn't recall the name, though, until Ben mentioned it. I’m glad he did. It provided me a good hour of Googling and watching the old TV show on YouTube. This link will get you to part 1 of 3 and links to the other parts. It is worth watching.

Yes, the acting was a bit heavy handed, but it was a good view. I only noted a couple of historical problems.

One was the National Guard’s use of a very old M5 Stuart tank instead of a later M4 Sherman or M24 Chaffee.

And both the MSGT and the CPL wore rifle cartridge belts while armed with carbines. For being such a history buff, you'd think MSGT Connors would have called Custer by his proper rank, Lieutenant Colonel. The officer was appointed to the temporary brevet rank of Major General in OCT 1864 and then reverted to Brevet Brigadier General 13 MAR 1865, near the end of the War for the Liberation of the Southern Confederacy. He acted as BG for a bit over a year before being returned to his permanent rank of LTC. (JUL 1866, until KIA 25 JUN 1876.)

Historically, George Armstrong Custer was an audacious, aggressive, courageous cavalry leader. He was also extremely egotistical, arrogant, and headstrong. These characteristics sometimes lead to glory, and frequently to one’s early demise. Unfortunately, they also often result in heavy losses amongst those who must follow the leader’s orders.


Steve Skubinna said...

George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novel, Flashman and the Redskins is worth reading (as are all of the series). According to the historical coneit of the book, Flashie is the only white survivor of Little Big Horn and thus provides an eyewitness account of the action, along with some excellent character sketches of the principals.

Matt G said...

It's not uncomon to call Custer a general-- see the obelisk dedicated to the fallen soldiers on the national cemetary, which refers to him as a Brevet Major General. (Well, okay, it actually says "BVT. MAJ. GEN'L. G.A. CUSTER")

I thought that he still retained his brevet commission.

Assrot said...

I'm glad Custer and his men got their asses handed to them. Serves them right. It's a disgrace what was done to the native american peoples back in those days.

I personally hope Custer's soul is rotting in hell. It's what he deserves. He's no hero in my book.