Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Custer's Last Stand at Little Bighorn

Fig.1: Still not nearly as bad as invading Russia.
There have been many screw-ups in military history. Notable ones include Napoleon's invasion of Russia, Hitler's invasion of Russia, and the Russians' invasion of Russia (boy, did they have egg on their faces when they did that). But among the non-invasion of Russia screw-ups, the one cited most often is United States General George Armstrong Custer's 1876 charge against an alliance of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native Americans at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in present-day Montana (fig.1). Custer led a regiment of under 700 U.S. soldiers against a Native force believed to have been numbered over 2,000, and got beat worse than a stutterer at a spelling bee. Since then, Custer's name has been synonymous with arrogance, unpreparedness, underestimating one's opponents, and a delectable cream-based dessert sauce. But does he deserve this reputation? Were there uncontrollable forces working against him? Did he receive inaccurate information from his normally reliable spies? Should starch be added to create a thicker variation more suitable as a filling for tarts? Let us examine the man and the situation more thoroughly and, quite possibly, restore the old general's honor. It doesn't get more tasty than that!