Custer Myths

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The deification of American historical figures and events is one of the most pervasive and problematic issues facing historians today. Far too often the founding fathers, and other American figures are enshrined in the public memory as heroes and defenders of freedom and democracy. History is often obfuscated by the filiopietistic tendencies of Americans to over venerate historical figures. The objective historical narrative is lost and shrouded by American exceptionalism and the myth of progress and expansion in the American West. Nowhere is this more apparent than the mythos surrounding Custer and the battle of the Little Bighorn. For many Americans, Custer is remembered as a war hero who was “gallantly” vanquished with his men on Last Stand …show more content…
In fact, her account of the battle was nothing more than a fallacious panegyric praising Custer’s valor and glory in the face of death. But despite being faulty, it became very popular and it actuated the rise of Custer’s myth in becoming mainstream in both historical thought and the public’s popular imagination. According to Welch, “But for all the sentimental verses and the anger of the public, Custer’s legend might have died a lingering, but merciful death had it not been for Buffalo Bill Cody and Elizabeth Custer. Together they managed to keep Custer’s memory alive, and furthermore, they were able to make his name a household word in Both America and Europe.” Welch further elaborates that “But it was finally the tenacious Libbie Custer who did the most to keep her husband’s name and honor bright and shining.” Because of Libbie Custer’s accounts and Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West shows; Custer and his legacy became enshrined in history in the pantheon of American heroes. Custer was remembered by both historians and citizens as a tragic hero. Lastly, Welch stated that “it was inevitable that historians would get into the act and perpetuate the myth—objectivity be damned—that Custer was “brave” and “noble” and Sitting Bull was “clever” and “cunning”. In our historical memory the Indians remained savages, redskins, fiendish, bloodthirsty, soulless.” However, …show more content…
On the contrary, Custer made several miscalculations and he recklessly underestimated the strength of the Native Americans. Furthermore, Viola stated that “Custer disastrously misjudge the size of the enemy camp, the quality and quantity of firearms in Indian hands, and the willingness of his opponents to stand and fight.” Moreover, as explained by the journal Archaeologists: Detectives on the Battlefield, “evidence indicates that the troopers with Custer melted away as their units dissolved in the face of superior firepower. The end came so suddenly and quickly that few troopers did much effective fighting. Many panicked and ran toward the center of the large, uneven square that Custer and his officers had attempted to form while waiting for reinforcements that never

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