Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier

Robert M. Utley, Author University of Oklahoma Press $24.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-8061-2150-5
Had George Custer been killed at Appomattox, writes the author, he would have been remembered only as the great cavalry general who ranked next to Sheridan in the Union Army. At 23, the ``Boy General'' combined audacity, courage, leadership and an uncanny instinct for striking the critical blow in battle. By contrast, his reputation as a frontier commander was tarnished, and his claim to immortality rests on the debacle at the Little Big Horn. Utley, former chief historian and assistant director of the National Park Service, has written extensively about military action in the West. Here he examines the man behind the legenda man of contradictions who inspired devotion or hatred but not indifference. Custer's quest for money led to shady deals and probable kickbacks; he faced a court-martial and was suspended from the Army for a period. Utley gives a detailed picture of the frontier Army and the events that led up to the Last Stand. He refutes the notion that the battle was an act of bravado to secure personal glory for Custer. Rather, he argues, it was bad luck. Nobody expected the Indians to stand and fight; other companies mismanaged intelligence, and all of them underestimated their opponents. Utley makes a plausible case. This is heady material for western and military buffs. Illustrations. 13,500 first printing; BOMC and History Book Club selections. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-8061-2292-2
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-8061-3387-4
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