I: This interview is
being conducted on the morning of June 22nd the year 1876. For the
record, can you state your full name?
C: Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.
I: What would you
like me to call you?
C: Well, I have been
called a lot of things. You could try "Iron Butt" or "Hard
Ass" that’s what many have taken to calling me?
do you think that is?
know why, it’s because of my physical
stamina in the saddle and my strict discipline.
hear some have called you Ringlets or Yellow
Hair due to you vanity about your appearance and curling
have heard that one too. None of those to my face though. I would suggest you not be the first.
have no intentions….Can I just call you
Colonel, you said I could ask you any
questions today so; I am going to take full advantage of that invitation. Please,
don’t think me rude, but I do want
I have been in the public’s eye since
the start of the Civil War, you aren’t going to offend me.
let begin then. I have to ask, do you actually wear cinnamon
oil in your hair?
C: (laughing) Would you care to smell?
thanks, I will just take that as a yes.
Colonel, you have many that admire you but nearly as many detractors
that say you have an obsessive personality. That this drive to end the Indian
wars has made you…I don’t know, overly—driven? Sorry, just couldn’t think of
the word…How would you respond to that?
has been said that I have an obsessive
personality, that I am too driven…To those who say this, I simply reply…mind
your own damn business.
I: That’s really not
C: You asked, “How I
would respond?” I think that is how I
would respond. (pause)
Obsessed…me? I do
not understand how one who has a passion to succeed; to see a task to its end
can be so wrongly labeled. It is clear
that we must finish the job and the fact that I am the perfect man to see it
through and have expressed resolve to do so, should not be a disparagement upon
my good name. It is those who fail who
are written of as lunatics and loons, but those who succeed are men of great
fortitude and drive…the task does not define rationality- only whether one is
successful in the attempt of that task.
Sailing across the oceans to find a new continent only seems irrational
if you fall off the end of the Earth.
I: So, why do you
think people don’t like you?
C: I think in part I am attacked due to my natural good
looks and charisma. Others who lack
these traits often wish to paint me in poor light. I wish to note that
my fame is of little
importance to me but the world should not be denied the background and story of
my great doings.
I: Do you see how
that could come across as arrogant?
C: I have little
concern of how I come across.
I: Okay, I see….let’s
change tracks here a little bit and go back to how you got started.
C: Young man, if you
are going to ask me about West Point, that is not news…I finished last in my
class…is that what you’re going to ask me.
C: Like I am some
dummy that wouldn’t know buffalo dung from Shinola? You listen here, I
meant to finish last…you
hear me? There are only two places
in a class, the head and
the foot, and since I had no desire to be the head, I aspired to be the foot.
It was all right with me, whether I knew my lesson or not: I simply did not
allow it to trouble me.
what about the demerits, they say had
the war not broken out you would wouldn’t have graduated or at the very best
ended up as some obscure post.
you going to keep dragging up things from
fifteen years ago? I was a boy and I liked
to pull pranks. That was it; silly jokes
that those in charge just didn’t cotton to.
You try to make it sound like I was some idiot and son, that couldn’t be
farther from the truth. I will not sit
here and answers questions that are as old and stale as hard tack. They
said you were smart. I guess I expected more…some new
let’s talk about your orders.
Major Reno, I was told, discovered the trail
along the Rosebud River that leads down to a valley. Your entire regiment has
been detached to
follow it later this morning…
was also told you expect to find hostiles
at the end of that trail.
would both expect and hope to.
then let me ask you about something
that happened yesterday.
tell, what happened yesterday?
I was told that General Terry offered
you four companies of the 2nd Calvary and you said no.
You are getting ready to go into a possible battle…why would you decline
Others have offered to help but I
should think they would simply be in the way.
I have absolute confidence in my ability and that of the men I have
trained. I could whip any Indian
village on the Plains. Plus, commanding these extra troops that are neither
familiar with me nor I with them would prove to simply be a burden.
what if you are outnumbered?
I have over 600 well-trained men under my
command. I am confident in my ability to
lead these men.
There is no if….I know. Do
you hear what
I am saying? I know!
fair enough…what about reports that you
had Gatling guns at your disposal but you chose to leave them back on the
steamer? Is that true?
I ask why? As a bystander I would think just having this
technology on the battlefield would be demoralizing to the Indians.
but again, to travel over the
terrain we must in the next few days, they would be an undue burden. Mobility
and swiftness are keys to victory.
but what about your regiment’s
sabers? Is it true you boxed them up
and sent them back with the wagons?
I ask why? Surely, you aren’t going to claim that are a
this is beginning to be tiresome. I am not used to having every little decision
I make questioned. Am I not standing
before you now? I have survived battle
after battle during the war…I have been fighting Indians longer than I care to
think….yet here I stand. Amazing right?
Having made so many bad decisions…now, if you will excuse me, I need to get
ready to prepare for, apparently, my slaughter.
Sir, you promised me a full fifteen
minutes. I would like you to honor your
but what else could you possibly have to
you wanted fresh, so how about we
get away from your professional life and talk about your personal life.
would like to ask you about your
warned you to be careful boy…
has been accused that just eight years
ago, you married Monahsetah, the daughter of Cheyenne Chief Little Rock, and
she bore your son.
is a lie!
I: Sir, it has
been alleged by not only Captain Frederick Benteen but also chief of
scouts, Ben Clark that after
the Battle of Washita River…
two are bold-faced liars. I would never cheat on my wife. If I were to ever get my hands on them…
would they lie? What could possibly be their motivation?
you are showing your ignorance.