Friday, May 25, 2012

Arrogant Men

An arrogant man -

George Armstrong Custer (December 5, 1839 – June 25, 1876) was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. Raised in Michigan and Ohio, Custer was admitted to West Point in 1858, where he graduated last in his class. However, with the outbreak of the Civil War, all potential officers were needed, and Custer was called to serve with the Union Army.
Custer developed a strong reputation during the Civil War. He fought in the first major engagement, the First Battle of Bull Run. His association with several important officers helped his career, as did his success as a highly effective cavalry commander. Custer was eventually promoted to the temporary rank (brevet) of major general. (At war's end, he reverted to his permanent rank of captain.) At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, in which he and his troops played a decisive role, Custer was on hand at General Robert E. Lee's surrender.
After the Civil War, Custer was dispatched to the west to fight in the Indian Wars. His disastrous final battle overshadowed his prior achievements. Custer and all the men with him were killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, fighting against a coalition of Native American tribes in a battle that has come to be popularly known in American history as "Custer's Last Stand"

Custer is controversial. In his day he was praised in the press and by many military men as well. However, there were also military men who thought him a buffoon, full of bluster and little substance, and the battle mainly a stupid waste. By today's standards of course, he was a total bigot.

Another Arrogant Man -

I did not ask to be here. I didn't ask to be born.

That was my teenage lament. In those years I was deeply resentful at my lot. I was absolutely lost and my people did not help. I did not understand the comfort they offered and I ran away as much as I could, not being very brave and ashamed with myself for my timidity. I was ugly enough about it that I made my family pay. Later as I found my way toward some kind of awkward emancipation I made them pay even more.

The vestiges of those resentments are still available to me. I still seek to blame sometimes, if not you then some part of me I can cast off like a broken shell.

Of course now, in my best self, I know very well that I asked to be here, in fact demanded it. I am more or less here much like a fellow leaves the hospital "against medical advice". I think I have something to prove by it. I think I will return to God's throne with compelling evidence how He fucked this all up.

Surely, I am an arrogant man.

I am not going to apologize to all you people for my arrogance. How could I? I would not be here like this or any other way without His permission. I already know that in every other way I cannot hope to succeed in my lifework without developing a huge compassion and capacity to love. Only through that can I possibly hold the truth in some holy light.

No One To Blame

I did not ask to be here.
It is not my fault.
Someone is to blame.
I am sure of that, old man.
Is it you to blame?
Your blameworthiness
is truly legendary.
I heard those whispers.
In fact without you
I could not breathe very well
I don't think. I'd gasp
like a stranded fish.

May 25, 2012 3:12 PM


  1. i love to see what you do with narrative, context, irony and thought....
    .... this post has depth in so many ways and i enjoyed it immensely.

  2. A bigot, interesting label, since one of his best friends, during the Indian campaigns, was an Arikira scout by the name of Bloody Knife. (seen in the a couple of photos of Custer.) Custer sent Bloody Knife with Reno to aid in his charge on the south end of the indian encampment. He was killed when a bullet stuck his head and blood and brain matter splattered Reno in the face. Bloody Knife's death, in the timber next to Reno, is believed by most to have been the catalyst that spurred his scramble and retreat across the Little Bighorn and up unto the bluffs, leaving G Company and many others behind in the timber.
    Archeology has proven the indians were extremely well armed with many repeating rifles, like the Henry, hence the named area called "Henryville" which decimated the Calhoun position causing the colapse of the southern end of Custer's offensive line.
    Note: Sheridan purchased the table on which Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant and presented it to Libby Custer, stating, "no man did more to bring about this successful end than your husband". The table was later presented to the Smithsonian and whether they even know it's whereabouts now is doubtful, unfortunately.

    1. Interesting. I am no scholar and mostly borrowed the information about Custer, though I have been engaged at different times with the Civil War histories and had no reason to doubt what is presented here.

      That Custer was arrogant is undoubted. He should never have been in that position at Little Big Horn Creek. He was known to be sure of himself with little justification, Just the same he was a great example throughout his career of how far confidence, justified or no, can take a person.

      That a military commander can know how to utilize a good scout and over time befriend him is not the same as taking all the first nation peoples as inherently the same as white men. Most Americans at the time were bigots concerning the first nation peoples by today's standards. I could not say for sure that Custer was extreme by his contemporary standards but it sure seems that he grossly underestimated his risk at Little Big Horn Creek.

      But of course, my main point was to show how arrogance is ubiquitous. I did not intend to be a scholar specializing in Custer.

      I admire your scholarship and devotion to this piece of American history and I was proud to notice that First Nation people are engaged in your preservation effort. For anyone who cares at this point, go here


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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