Academic journal article Military Review

CUSTER: Lessons in Leadership

Academic journal article Military Review

CUSTER: Lessons in Leadership

Article excerpt

CUSTER: Lessons in Leadership, Duane Schultz, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2010, 206 pages, $14.00.

On 25 June 1876, the fate of the 220 troopers of the 7th Cavalry was sealed as General George Armstrong Custer took his command down into the area surrounding Little Bighorn Creek. At the time of the battle, he was regarded as one of the most successful post-Civil War generals of the age.

Although many readers only associate Custer with the massacre at Little Bighorn, his military record up to that point was one of the most popular in our nation's history. His superiors at the time were also convinced that Custer had the luck, aggressiveness, and supreme self-confi dence that could sway any contest. However, on the evening prior to this last battle, his troopers began to share another opinion.

Although successful in many aspects, Custer's judgement was clouded in this instance by his search for glory and fame. He did not adapt his tactics to those of his enemy. His men realized this just prior to this operation during his absence for a court martial. Although Custer seemed to recognize the danger of his decision when he desperately requested immediate support, his fate was already sealed. This biography encourages us to analyze the leadership elements that led to this massacre in search for lessons learned for future generations.

Charismatic and boyishly charming, Custer was one of the most controversial and audacious military commanders of the 19th Century. No matter what side the reader may take, what cannot be ignored is the effect he has on the tenets of what is truly effective generalship. …

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