The Battle of the Little Big Horn
Digital History ID 701
George Armstrong Custer
Even though he graduated last in his class at the United States Military Academy, he quickly rose through the military ranks during the Civil War, becoming a brigadier general at 23 and a major general at 25. He achieved fame as an Indian fighter when he joined the Seventh Cavalry in 1866. In this quotation from his autobiography, Custer expresses his view of Indians.
Stripped of the beautiful romance with which we have been so long willing to envelope him, transferred from the inviting pages of the novelist to the localities where we are compelled to meet with him, in his native village, on the war path, and when raiding our frontier settlements and lines of travel, the Indian forfeits his claim to the appellation of the "noble red man." We see him as he is, and, so far as all knowledge goes, as he ever has been, a savage in every sense of the word; no worse, perhaps than his white brother would be similarly born and bred, but one whose cruel and ferocious nature far exceeds that of any wild beast of the desert.
Source: George Armstrong Custer, My Life on the Plains (New York, 1874), 163-65.
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