Monday, March 29, 2021

George Armstrong Custer and the Judgement of History

George Armstrong Custer

Is it possible to write “objective” history? Every writer is a prisoner of his/her own time and personal biases (both intentional and unintentional). “Good history” is as subjective a term as “good law”, both are subject to the shifting values of the times and subject to the vagaries of advocacy. Just as there is “Enough law for every client’s position”, so too there appears to be enough history to serve a multitude of worthy ends if one doesn’t insist on one eternal, immutable and knowable Truth. Worthy ends such as: (1) History as art (fact based expositions of the human condition much like the fictional exposition of the human condition found in novels), (2) history as predictive tool (e.g. military after action reports), and (3) history as an instrument of socialization (an inclusive and expanding public mythology for an immigrant nation). History is not an immutable thing, but a process and a set of relationships…fragile, contested, unstable, and sometimes explosive. Robert M. Utley perhaps said it best in remarks made at the ceremonies commemorating the centennial of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. “The fact is that history, like life, is complex, contradictory, and ambiguous. There are few genuine heroes or villains in real life, merely people who are sometimes heroic, sometimes villainous, but most of the time simply human.”

The Tragic story of Marcus Reno

Custer’s Last Stand: Portraits in Time

Since his death along the bluffs overlooking the Little Bighorn River, in Montana, on June 25, 1876, over five hundred books have been written about the life and career of George Armstrong Custer. Views of Custer have changed over succeeding generations. Custer has been portrayed as a callous egotist, a bungling egomaniac, a genocidal war criminal, and the puppet of faceless forces. For almost one hundred and fifty years, Custer has been a Rorschach test of American social and personal values. Whatever else George Armstrong Custer may or may not have been, even in the twenty-first century, he remains the great lightning rod of American history. This book presents portraits of Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn as they have appeared in print over successive decades and in the process demonstrates the evolution of American values and priorities.




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Monday, January 25, 2021

The Only Roman Catholic Chaplain in the American Revolution


The efforts of the Continental Congress to gain support for the American Revolution in Canada led to the organization of two pro-American Canadian regiments, the 1st and 2nd Canadian Regiments.  There were many French Canadians only too willing to help oust the British from North America.

On January 26, 1776, Father Louis Eustace Lotbiniere, although more than sixty years old, was appointed chaplain of the First Canadian Regiment and became the first Roman Catholic chaplain in the United States Army.  Father Lotbiniere was a native French speaker and ministered to the French-Canadian troops rallying to the American cause.

With the failure of the invasion of Canada, the First Canadian Regiment was transferred to the vicinity of Philadelphia.  Fathter Lotbiniere died in poverty in October 1786.  In support of American liberty he had given up his parish, his family associations, incurred the censure of his Bishop and spent his last years in exile among a strange people whose language he could scarcely speak.

Love, Sex, and Marriage in Colonial America 1607-1800

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Monday, January 04, 2021

The Southern Cross of Honor


The Southern Cross of Honor (seen in front of this grave) was created by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), and is used as a symbol on the graves of Confederate veterans in recognition of, “loyal, honorable service.”  The Southern Cross takes two different forms.  One is an engraved outline on the gravestone.  The other is a two-sided, cast iron replica of the medal placed at the grave site.  Founded in 1894, the UDC was influential throughout the South in preserving and upholding the memory of Confederate veterans, especially those husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who died in the war.

Treasure Legends of the Civil War

A lively history of the Civil War sprinkled with tales of over 60 buried treasure in sixteen states. History buffs and adventure seekers will enjoy this work.