|"Custer's Last Stand" by Thomas Hart Benton, 1943.|
The NY Times has an archive of Custer stories that provide background and snapshots of the man's declining historical reputation:
- A review of Nathaniel Philbrick's new volume on Custer (Times Verdict: meh.)
- A 1997 article about the controversy to build a monument at Little Big Horn dedicated to the Indians killed at that battle. The monument was eventually built.
- A 1993 decision to rename George Custer Elementary School to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. And in his home state of Michigan!
- A 1991 article about how what had been Custer Battlefield National Monument had just been renamed Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, to much anger is some quarters.
- A 1921 article by Custer's long-surviving widow Libby about how the battle should be remembered.
- An 1880 article describing widow Libby Custer's complaints about a statue of her husband erected at West Point (she considered it insufficiently heroic and eventually succeeded in having it removed.)
- ... and so on, back to this 1876 "Sketch of Gen. Custer" written right after the battle, which informed Times readers that "Major Gen. George A. Custer, who was killed with his whole command while attacking an encampment of Sioux Indians, under command of Sitting Bull, was one of the bravest and most widely known officers in the United States Army." Oh hogwash.
- And my absolute favorite, this article about John Martin, who fought with Garibaldi in Italy before immigrating to America, enlisting in the army and becoming one of Custer's buglers. Martin escaped the fate of his company when he was dispatched just before the battle with a message pleading for reinforcements. Later her served in the Spanish American war and eventually became a subway conductor in New York.
You might notice no articles between the late 1920 and the 1980s above. It seems that the Times has put articles from that era back behind a pay wall. I am not sure when this happened or why!