General George Armstrong Custer. Not many world leaders, even today, evoke up such strong emotions and images as General Custer. I often get asked about why I read so much Custer materials, collect Custer items, watch Custer movies, and even go on vacations alone to Custer sites. Depending on how sincere I feel the interest is, I supply an appropriate answer. If it's a mere question of curiosity, I give the generic "I am just keenly interested in that period of American history.". If it's a genuine interest I'll flesh out the answer. My wife Chris will often yell out "Don't get him started!" and roll her eyes if she is within earshot.
This lifelong fascination started as a child. I was watching a movie and this very brave "army man" is standing in the center of a battlefield, surrounded by hundreds of Indians on horseback circling and killing the "army men". Finally just the one "army man" is left. The Indians charge him, he stands defiant to the end, is killed and an American flag is grabbed and ridden off with by the Indians. I asked my mother who this man was and she said "General Custer. He got killed by Indians.". I was hooked for life.
As I grew a little older I found out the movie was "They Died With Their Boots On" starring the strikingly handsome Errol Flynn as General George Armstrong Custer. A little later in life, due to family members in the military, I developed a love for rotary aviation and the 7th Cavalry. As I grew older I yearned to learn more about the US 7th Cavalry in the Old West. Having Shawnee Indian relatives also fed my desire to learn more about the United States of America's policy toward them.
In the 1970's General Custer began to be a whipping boy for just about every injustice, real and imagined, for what happened to the Indians. Movies filled with trash, like 'Little Big Man', and TV dreck like 'Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman' began to wrongly plant in the American psyche that General George Armstrong Custer was an evil dummy that loathed Indians. That General Custer was an outstanding US Civil War Officer and gave his life needlessly for a corrupt President Grant administration and Indian hating General Sherman didn't matter anymore. If the Grant administration hadn't lied to, starved, and stole from the Indians perhaps they wouldn't have had to fight to survive and General Custer and his men wouldn't have been killed. No one seemed to care anymore that this US Army combat vet was being destroyed in a smear campaign. If people want poster boys for mistreatment of the Indians from that era may I suggest that you transfer your sights onto Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan.
In addition, the faults of Indian leaders were largely ignored. If I could pick one Plains Indian to follow, in his time, it would the great Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was flawed like all great men. His lack of standards as a shirtwearer impacted that position for many years, his taking another man's wife, and the many accounts of his peculiar behavior are still often ignored while any Custer transgression is quite often portrayed as just another example of a crazed ego gone amok. Yes Custer was flawed, just acknowledge what he did right I believe. Am I slamming Crazy Horse? Not in a million years. I would have picked up my gun and followed him anywhere.
The worst for me was the renaming of the battlefield. When I heard the US senator wisecrack about the battlefield being named for a loser I immediately thought "How would Texans feel about renaming the Alamo to Santa Anna Battlefield or WWII vets reaction to renaming Pearl Harbor to Admiral Yamamoto Battlefield?".
I was hurt at work while chasing a wanted felon, in a stolen vehicle with a stolen gun, in late 2008. I tore a lot things in my right foot and was off work for about six weeks. I couldn't walk for about ten days and decided to write CusterLives.com to try to provide another view of General Custer and his Indian foes. I vowed to be as balanced as I could and if what I stated was an opinion I'd say it was an opinion and not try to pass it off as fact as so many others do.
What you see here is the result. I've done a lot on the site and have yet to scratch the surface of what I want to achieve here. I really enjoy the comments I get via email or the guestbook on the site. I feel extremely happy when people write me requesting more information on the General or having some other question. I even enjoy contacts from people who disagree with me or my material. Unfortunately I've received a few hate mails that have no real substance, just a profanity filled name calling email that reflects the senders limited intelligence.
I hope you enjoy my labor of love and will visit often as I try to add or change something weekly. You can check the "What's New" page for updates.
Garry Owen Troopers!