Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer

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This thrilling and definitive biography of George Armstrong Custer's Civil War years is nothing short of a heart-pounding cavalry charge through the battlefield heroics that thrust the gallant young officer into the national spotlight in the midst of the country's darkest hours. From West Point to the daring actions that propelled him to the rank of general at age twenty-three to his unlikely romance with Libbie Bacon, Custer's exploits are the stuff of legend.

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Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer

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This thrilling and definitive biography of George Armstrong Custer's Civil War years is nothing short of a heart-pounding cavalry charge through the battlefield heroics that thrust the gallant young officer into the national spotlight in the midst of the country's darkest hours. From West Point to the daring actions that propelled him to the rank of general at age twenty-three to his unlikely romance with Libbie Bacon, Custer's exploits are the stuff of legend.

Always leading his men from the front with a personal courage seldom seen before or since, he was a key part of nearly every major engagement in the east. Not only did Custer capture the first battle flag taken by the Union and receive the white flag of surrender at Appomattox, but his field generalship at Gettysburg against Confederate cavalry General Jeb Stuart had historic implications in changing the course of that pivotal battle.

For decades, historians have looked at Custer strictly through the lens of his death on the frontier, casting him as a failure. While some may say that the events that took place at the Little Big Horn are illustrative of America's bloody westward expansion, they have in the process unjustly eclipsed Custer's otherwise extraordinarily life and outstanding career and fall far short of encompassing his incredible service to his country. This biography of thundering cannons, pounding hooves, and stunning successes tells the true story of the origins of one of history's most dynamic and misunderstood figures. Award-winning historian Thom Hatch reexamines Custer's early career to rebalance the scales and show why Custer's epic fall could never have happened without the spectacular rise that made him an American legend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
What most people know about Custer’s life centers on one day: his fatal last stand at Little Bighorn in 1876. Not fair, claims Spur Award winner Hatch (for 2005’s Black Kettle), who briskly and convincingly sets out to rescue the Union Army’s youngest general from this ignominy. Hatch leads a romp through the Civil War, describing Custer’s involvement in many key confrontations, including both Bull Runs, Brandy Station, Gettysburg, and Appomattox. An undistinguished graduate of West Point in 1861, Custer made a name for himself early in the war with daring cavalry charges and smart military strategies. His rapid advance through aide-de-camp positions for three generals, coupled with his willingness to get out on the battlefield with his men and his flair for self-promotion, made Custer one of the most colorful characters of the war. The deftly detailed narrative undergirds Hatch’s emphasis on the importance of Custer’s early military career while delivering the drama of the larger swirl of the Civil War. However, Hatch reveals little about Custer’s private life or his inner self, elements of character that might have helped flesh out how and why this popular, accomplished general died so young. (Dec.)
Ronald C. White

Finally, instead of the zoom-lens focus on George Armstrong Custer at the Little Big Horn, we are treated to a wide-angle portrait of Custer the Civil War hero. The 'Boy General'--promoted to brigadier general at twenty-three--receives from acclaimed author Thom Hatch a rich portrait that is no hagiography, but rather [is]painted in a multitude of colors befitting the swashbuckling adventurer with his yellow curls and red ties. Both those long fascinated by Custer and students of the Civil War will find new insights to enliven the Custer conversation.
The Wall Street Journal on The Last Outlaws

[The Last Outlaws] is eloquent of not only the Old West that we think of when we see a photograph of a butte or a mustang or a Colt revolver but also of the implacable forces of time and change that extinguished it.
USA Today on The Last Outlaws

Fans of Old West lore will find The Last Outlaws an absorbing and entertaining read.
Thomas Powers

The Seminole tribe of Florida had an origin as complex and tragic as the history of race in America. The Creek Indians of Alabama, escaped black slaves, and Muskogee-speaking natives of Florida together made up the tribe which took its name from the Spanish word for fugitives or wild men. They were united by a fierce independence and were led by a man of great natural gifts, as varied in his background as the tribe he led -- named Billy Powell at birth, known to history as Osceola. His story, stirring and sad in equal measure, is now told by Thom Hatch in his new history of the Seminole ordeal.
Paul Andrew Hutton

George Armstrong Custer is remembered for a single, spectacular defeat, yet he was one of America's most successful soldiers. Thom Hatch explores that historical contradiction in this exciting tale of Custer's forgotten Civil War career. Hatch's prose, as fast paced as a cavalry charge, sweeps the reader along through many of the Civil War's greatest battles.
Kirkus Reviews
Before he became the most famous man in America, George Armstrong Custer was…only moderately famous. By the end of the Civil War, very few cavalry commanders' reputations stood higher than Custer's. From First Bull Run, where he was cited for bravery, to Appomattox, where he observed Robert E. Lee's surrender, Custer enjoyed a glittering war, distinguishing himself in battle and earning the love of his troops and the adulation of the public. Hatch (The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 2013, etc.) offers a bit about Custer's boyhood and more about his West Point years, where the prank-loving youth famously piled up demerits and endeared himself to fellow cadets, but the author mostly focuses on the battlefield exploits and Custer's wartime, tortuous courtship of Libbie Bacon. He won the woman (she remained devoted to polishing his reputation until her death in 1933) and did as much as any Union officer to win the war. In his gold-looped, velveteen jacket and red tie, with his long hair flowing from under his soft hat, Custer's flamboyance was exceeded only by his bravery, demonstrated at places like Williamsburg, Gettysburg and Culpeper. He had mounts shot out from under him, received wounds and appeared on the cover of Harper's Weekly. His horsemanship, stamina, intuitive grasp of cavalry tactics, talent for sensing the enemy's weakness and propensity to lead from the front impressed his superiors and accounted for his astonishing rise through the ranks. By 23, he was the youngest general in the Union army; by war's end, a genuine national hero. Still ahead lay Little Bighorn and his curious transmutation in history from hero to martyr to object lesson to object of ridicule. An admiring, fast-paced, thoroughly readable account of Custer at war.
From the Publisher
"A lively and very readable account of the early career of George Armstrong Custer." —Larry McMurtry, author of Custer
Library Journal
George Armstrong Custer's achievements in the Civil War, for which he won national fame and was promoted to brigadier general in the U.S. Cavalry at age 23, are reviewed here by popular historian Hatch (The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). Rightfully giving Custer his due for his brilliant early career as a Union cavalry officer, Hatch particularly celebrates his role in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, wherein he out-generaled the Confederate cavalry legend Jeb Stuart to protect the Union rear position during Pickett's ill-fated charge, a success that not only bolstered his reputation but was essential to the survival and eventual victory of the entire Union Army. Custer is best known today for his later role in the Plains Indian wars and his death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, but Hatch sympathetically emphasizes what Custer formerly achieved to make him a national figure in the first place. He describes battle scenes vividly; Custer's legendary pluck, luck, and sheer audacity shine throughout the narrative. VERDICT Recommended as a lively read for Civil War history buffs during the 150th anniversaries and beyond. [See Prepub Alert, 6/10/13.]—Nathan Bender, Albany Cty. P.L., Laramie, WY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250028501
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/10/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 519,877
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

THOM HATCH is the author of eight books including, The Last American Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Custer Companion. A Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and a historian who specializes in the American West, the Civil War, and Native American conflicts, Hatch has received the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for his previous work. He lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 27, 2015


    Glorious War was one of the most entertaing and informative books I have read, I never realized how important role Custer played in winning the war. Hatch's writing pulls you right in and you can not put down the book. Glorious War & his book Last Days about The Little Big Horn are 2 of the best books I have read. Hatch makes his books come alive & history fun.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2014


    Really a good job describing Custer's contribution to the Union during the Civil War. This is a good book to read to counter the negativity surrounding Custer based on the Battle of the Little Bighorn. This is a good read!

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  • Posted April 16, 2014

    more from this reviewer


    Good read, lots of exciting moments, learned facts about him, well written flows easily

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