January 2008

Native Americans and the Custer Massacre

A few issues ago I made reference that history books tend to portray George Armstrong Custer as being a blood-thirsty savage. In reality, it is just the opposite. A few subscribers sent emails asking for more details.

The Custer Massacre is not the only case of the military battling with the Native Americans in the 1870ís. In fact, for several years, in the mid-1870ís, there were dozens of cases of the military invading Native American camps and slaughtering them. This era has become known as the Indian Wars. Reading July, 1876 issues of various newspapers around the country paint an entirely different image of the Native Americans and Custer.

Baltimore Gazette: "The war was caused by the extortions and cruelties and robberies of Grant's Indian Ring, and then the daring and intrepid Custer was sent with his slender band into the jaws of destruction. Grant sowed the seeds of war and Custer reaped the bravest of death."

Baltimore Sun: " While breaking our pledges with the Indians and in various ways exasperating them to vindictive retaliation, we have put arms into their hands and furnished them with ammunition to slaughter our troops and massacre our people in the outlying frontier settlements."

Newburyport (Mass.) Herald: "The Indians have been swindled and exasperate by our agents, and whenever they have been justly treated they have been friendly. When they have been swindled and abused they have revenged themselves with the most barbarous cruelty."

Jersey City Argus: "The attempt to make him responsible for the disaster may be fully characterized as conduct unbecoming a soldier and gentleman."

Wilmington (Delaware) Herald: "General Custer was an honorable, brave soldier. He appeared in Washington before an investigating committee and furnished evidence harrowing some of the Presidentís plan. For this he was reduced in rank and another appointed to take command of an expedition that he lost his life in. So, although humiliated by the President, he goes to his grave clothed in the honor of a brave man who died at his post."

Elizabeth (New Jersey) Herald: "Can the act of the administration in invading the Black Hills country and waging war upon the Sioux be justified? If not, General Grant is clearly responsible for the terrible fate that has befallen the gallant fellows who, at his command, have marched to an inglorious death, with no palpable object except to produce a sensation for political effect."

Chicago Courier: "The crime is not with the men in the ranks; it is not with the brave officers who led them on to death; it is with the corrupt administration that sacrifices the lives of brave men upon the altar of political and personal preference and promotion."

Yonkers (New York) Graphic: "In a fit of spite, President Grant degraded General Custer, who, in a position where he would not otherwise have been, was massacred at the head of the Seventh Regiment of cavalry by the Sioux Indians on the 25th of June. The entire command shared the fate of their daring leader. Naught but contempt can be felt for a President through whose jealousy and petty pique we are indebted for the murder of General Custer and his brave soldiers."

Cincinnati Gazette: "For whatever other causes have helped kindle this war, the gold-hunting invasion of the Black Hills country was the present occasion. In this regard our vacillating course has given the Indians cause to think that our treaties would not protect their rights in any lands which attracted the greed of even the most lawless of our people."

Norfolk Virginian: "He was insulted by the President and subordinated in his command of this expedition, because in obedience to a lawful summons he testified as to the corruptness of the post traders and army settlers, and it may be that it was the sting of disgrace that sent him recklessly into the thickest on the charge from which he emerged."

Albany Argus: "Custer was degraded from his command because he went to Washington without leave and testified to the rapacity of the administration. Stung with the sense of unjust treatment the brilliant scholar and brave solider offered up his life as a sacrifice for the very country which had grown so sordid as not to appreciate his worth. The administration is justly held responsible not only for the existing Indian War, but for the slaughter of Custer and his brave command."

Baltimore Gazette: "Grant canít bear a high-spirited, honorable man. He likes the Babcock type of solider better. The same spirit that makes him shield and protect Babcock now that he is known to be a rascal, made him send the gallant Custer back to his command and deprive him of his well-earned post of honor out there."

So what is the bottom line and truth behind the Custer Massacre? The United States government had signed treaties with various Native American tribes giving them their own sections of barren, unproductive land (reservations) and promising not to interfere with their ways in the future. Peace lasted only a short time as gold was discovered in the Black Hills. President Grant, due to greed, decided that they should take the land back at all costs. General Armstrong Custer was ordered by President Grant to invade Indian Territory and take the land back at all costs. Custer was faced with a lose-lose decision; Defy the President and get court marshaled and hung or proceed with the battle and be killed. Some choice!

The email address for HistoryBuff.com is up to receiving over 800 SPAM emails a day! I've tried various Anti-SPAM programs but they ALL have their faults. The most common fault is blocking legitimate emails too! I've given up trying these programs. Effective immediately, I have changed the email address for HistoryBuff.com. From this point forward, please replace the word help with at historyreference.org. (By placing an email address on a Web site, SPAMers have "robotic" software the crawls around the Web and lifting any and all email addresses found. I had a custom program developed that encrypts the email address and only decrypts it when it is clicked. Move your cursor to the word "curator" in the previous sentence to see it at work. In the bottom left of your browser window you will see the complete address.) I will keep the help email address active for a week or so. After that, it will be deleted and ALL emails to the address will automatically bounce back as user unknown.) Be sure to change HistoryBuff.com's email address in your email program's address book. In the event you lose or delete this newsletter, going to any page on the site and clicking the email link will give you the current email address.

A Cure to Stop Drop-ins at Supper Time
Like many mothers, mine related several stories of her childhood. Perhaps one of my favorites involved an incident that took place at suppertime in the 1930's. New neighbors moved in across the street from their home and it wasn't long before the husband and wife began dropping in at suppertime. Wanting to be polite, they meagerly gave an invitation to join in their meal. They never hesitated and piled on the food. They did this for several nights in a row. When grandpa had enough, he announced it was time to do the dishes. Then he called out to Rex, their family dog, to come over to him. He then held his plate down for Rex to lick the left over food off it. He then took grandma's plate and did the same. The neighbors quickly left and never dropped in again at mealtime! Unfortunately, my grandfather died before I was born. I wish I had the opportunity to know him.

December Contest

CONTEST ONE QUESTION: Members of what Native American tribe were forced to walk the 'Trail of Tears' in the 1830's?

ANSWER: The Cherokee.

CONTEST TWO QUESTION: Which American in history is known as the 'Great Compromiser'?

ANSWER: Henry Clay.

One-thirty-seven people entered the contest. Unfortunately, Sixty-five were disqualified. Most of these were disqualified because they did not select the prize they wanted if they won. The remainder answered the Contest One question but selected a Contest Two prize, or the other way around. One prize was unclaimed.
The December Contest Winners Were:
  • Debbie Gardner - North Carolina
  • Ray Braverman - Delaware
  • Julie Eshelman-Lee - Colorado
  • Jerry Collins - Michigan
  • Grant & Cyndi Bennett - Missouri
  • Lois Weber - Florida
  • Lois Schill - Illinois

This Issue's Questions:

To enter Contest One, answer the question: Of the following, which is NOT the middle name of a United States President?

  • Rudolph
  • Clark
  • Earl
  • Sampson
  • Howard
  • S
  • Alan
  • Henry
  • Abram

    To enter Contest Two, answer the question: Which state was the first to legally allowed women to vote?


  • Contest Rules

    • Contest entry deadline is Thursday, January 17, 2008. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

    • To enter Contest One or Contest Two, email your answer to the address you see when you .

    • To enter Contest One, use "Contest One Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

    • To enter Contest Two, use "Contest Two Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

    • Subscribers may enter both contests, but only win one prize.

    • If entering both contests, entries must be sent in separate emails.

    • You MUST select ONE prize from the list.

    • From subscribers entering the contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE contest prize they want to win, EIGHT will be selected to win ONE of the contest prizes below.

    • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.
    January Contest One Prize Selection
    (Only one of each offered)


    Superman Adventures
    Classic Animated Cartoons (1940's)
    Nine full length episodes
    Produced by Fleischer Studios

    Gardens of Remembrance
    The men and their destiny

    In Normandy, over 100,000 combatants from 14 different nations lie in 28 war cemeteries on land given by France in perpetuity.

    The book is an all-inclusive guide to the Gardens of Remembrance and the origin of each war cemetery, its surroundings, characteristics and geographical situation. Profusely illustrated with color photos. The book can be ordered from Amazon.com


    January Contest Two Prize Selection
    (Only one of each offered)

    Classic TV DVD
    Episodes of the 1950's Howdy Doody
    children's television series

    D.O.A. (1950)
    Staring Edmond O'Brien & Beverly Garland

    Original Historic Newspapers

    Original Manchester American & Messenger (New Hampshire) historic newspaper from 1853

    New York Tribune historic newspaper from 1860

    Original New Hampshire Patriot historic newspaper from 1868

    Original Coldwater Republican (Michigan) historic newspaper from 1876
    That's it for this issue.

    Rick Brown

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