A Complete Life of General George A. Custer, Volume 1: Through the Civil War

Overview


In the election year of 1876 the Battle of the Little Big Horn was horrifyingly fresh to opinion makers, who divided along political lines in assigning blame. The late General George A. Custer, who had been a Democrat with aspirations to high office, was more pilloried than praised by President Grant and influential editors of Republican newspapers. Coming to the defense of Custer was Frederick Whittaker, who less than six months after the disaster published this first biography of him. A Complete Life was the ...
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Overview


In the election year of 1876 the Battle of the Little Big Horn was horrifyingly fresh to opinion makers, who divided along political lines in assigning blame. The late General George A. Custer, who had been a Democrat with aspirations to high office, was more pilloried than praised by President Grant and influential editors of Republican newspapers. Coming to the defense of Custer was Frederick Whittaker, who less than six months after the disaster published this first biography of him. A Complete Life was the beginning of a legend, and Whittaker did more than anyone else except Libby Custer to make the flamboyant Boy General a permanent resident of the national consciousness.

Quite aside from its contribution to the public image of Custer, this important book placed him and his associates against a concrete background of onrushing events. Drawing on newspaper reports and the general's own words, Whittaker captures the excitement of the era. In Volume 1 a boy's life in Ohio is made immediate. Then Custer's escapades as a cadet at West Point (where he was called Fanny because of his golden locks), his courtship of Judge Bacon's saucy daughter, and his singular service as a cavalryman in the Civil War are described in vivid circumstantial detail. From the first Battle of Bull Run through Gettysburg and the Virginia campaign he is seen in action, conspicuously defying death and winning promotion. Volume 2 deals with Custer's fighting in the West, ending with a memorable description of his last stand at the Little Big Horn in June 1876.

The introduction to Volume 1 is by Gregory J. W. Urwin, who won praise for Custer Victorious: The Civil War Battles of General George Armstrong Custer, also a Bison Book.

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Editorial Reviews

Robert M. Utley

"No Custer library is complete without Whittaker’s work, which is essential to understanding the Custer Legend."—Robert M. Utley
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803297425
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author


Gregory J. W. Urwin is an associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas.
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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Bison Book Edition xiii
Preliminary Remarks 1
Book 1 The Boy
Chapter I. Early Life 3
Birthplace and Boyhood
Going to School
First Love
The Nomination to West Point
Chapter II. Plebe Custer 17
The Sorrows of a Plebe
The First Camp
Chapter III. Cadet Custer 25
Becoming a Real Cadet
Riding Lessons
"Benny Havens, oh!"
The Coming of the War
The Attack on Fort Sumter
Graduation Time
A Court-martial
Lucky Escape
Book 2 The Subaltern
Chapter I. Lieutenant Custer, Second Cavalry 49
Going to Washington
Ordered to take Despatches to McDowell
Night Ride to Centreville
Chapter II. Bull Run 59
Custer joins his Troop
Incidents of the Battle
The Panic
The Defeat
Chapter III. Organizing an Army 77
The New General
Custer on Staff Duty
Sick Leave
The Pledge
Chapter IV. The Peninsular Campaign 93
Custer's First Charge
The Transports
The Peninsula
Yorktown
Chapter V. Winning the Bars 103
The Evacuation
The Pursuit
Williamsburg
The Advance on the Chickahominy
Custer made a Captain
Book 3 The Captain
Chapter I. From Richmond to Malvern Hill 119
The Battle of Fairoaks
McClellan's Peril
A Month's Respite
The Seven Days
Custer's Letters
Chapter II. McClellan's Removal 125
Harrison's Landing
Custer's Letters
The Maryland Campaign
McClellan Deposed
Custer at Monroe
The Course of True Love
Chapter III. The Cavalry Corps 141
The Winter of 1862-3
Custer on Pleasonton's Staff
The Urbana Expedition
Chapter IV. Winning IIIs Star 153
Battle of Aldie
Custer to the Front
Promoted
Book 4 The Michigan Brigade
Chapter I. The Gettysburg Campaign 167
The Boy General with the Golden Locks
The Battle of Gettysburg
Custer as a Cavalry Chief
Chapter II. After Gettysburg 181
Lee's Retreat
Captures of Trains
Falling Waters
A Squadron Captures a Brigade
Lee Escapes
Chapter III. To the Rapidan and Back 193
Advance on Culpepper
Meade's Retreat
Battle of Buckland's Mills
End of Campaign
Love Letters and Orange Blossoms
Chapter IV. The Wilderness and the Valley 219
Sheridan in Command
The First Raid
The Second Raid
Early in Maryland
The Cavalry Ordered to the Valley
Chapter V. Winchester 231
Playing Chess with Early
The False Move
Custer at Winchester
Book 5 The Third Cavalry Division
Chapter I. Woodstock Races 247
Assigned to the Third Division
Rosser against Custer
Sheridan's Orders
"Whip or Get Whipped"
Woodstock Races
Chapter II. Cedar Creek 263
Sheridan Ordered to Washington
Early's Surprise of Wright
The Battle of Cedar Creek
Plunder of the Union Camps
Arrival of Sheridan
Early's Overthrow
Custer and Merritt finishing the Victory
Results of the Valley Campaign
Chapter III. The Last Raid 271
Waynesboro'
Cutting the Canals
Chasing Early
Nearing Richmond
Back with the Army
Chapter IV. Five Forks 279
Advance on Five Forks
Devin's Repulse
The 5th Corps
The Victory
The Pursuit
Chapter V. Appomattox 297
Heading off Lee
Sailor's Creek
The Night March
Appomattox
Lee's Surrender
Custer's Last Order
Chapter VI. The Great Parade 309
From Richmond to Washington
Close of Custer's War Career
Book 6 After the War
Chapter I. The Volunteers in Texas 315
The State of the Country
Discontent of the Men
Mutiny
Discharge of the Volunteers
Custer in Texas
Chapter II. The Regular Army 325
Peculiar Hardships of the American Regular Army
Jealousy of the Nation
The Old and the New Army
Settling Down
Chapter III. The Seventh Cavalry 337
Description of the Regiment
Its Officers and Men
Custer and President Johnson
Ordered to Kansas
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