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Custer Victorious: The Civil War Battles of General George Armstrong Custer Hardcover – August, 1996

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Editorial Reviews


"The best examination of Custer's Civil War career."—Robert M. Utley, author of Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier
(Robert M. Utley)

"The strength of the book lies . . . in its description of the nature of Civil War cavalry fighting, [which was] swift, fluid, and difficult to understand, both for those who were in it and for those who would write about it."—Jeffrey Kimball, The Old Northwest
(Jeffrey Kimball The Old Northwest) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Gregory J. W Urwin, an associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, has written a new preface for this Bison Book edition.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Book Sales (August 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785807489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785807483
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a professor of history at Temple University and a former president of the Society for Military History. I earned my Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Notre Dame, and taught in Kansas and Arkansas before coming to Temple in 1999. I have published eight books, including _Custer Victorious: The Civil War Battles of General George Armstrong Custer_, _Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island_, and _Black Flag over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War_. My ninth book, _Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity, 1941-1945_, was released by Naval Institute Press in November 2010. Aided by fellowships from the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, Society of the Cincinnati, and Virginia Historical Society, I am now hard at work researching my tenth book, which is tentatively titled, "When Freedom Wore a Red Coat: A Social History of Cornwallis' 1781 Virginia Campaign."

My publications have won the General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and the Harold L. Peterson Award from the Eastern National Park and Monuments Association. I have lectured at the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, American Philosophical Society, David Library of the American Revolution, U.S. Army War College, National World War 2 Museum, Fort Ticonderoga, and Philadelphia's Union League. I am vice president of the Society for Military History, a fellow of the Company of Military Historians, an academic fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and general editor of the Campaigns and Commanders Series from University of Oklahoma Press. I have appeared in numerous documentaries on the History Channel, A&E, PBS, and commercial television (including _Wake Island-Alamo of the Pacific_, _Washington the Warrior_, the six-part _Washington's Generals_, and the twenty-six-part series _The Last Days of World War II_). I also worked as a troop trainer and extra in the Oscar-winning Civil War epic film, _Glory_.

I like writing military history from the bottom up. As the son and grandson of U.S. Army enlisted men, my heart is with the rank and file who bear brunt of all wars, although I appreciate the importance of effective leadership. I am also interested in the role that race has played in American military, social, and political history. My next book on Cornwallis' 1781 Virginia Campaign will focus on how that British general's liberation of thousands of slaves exposed the vulnerability of the revolutionary cause.

As a professional historian, I feel a responsibility to broaden the frontiers of knowledge through scholarly work. At the same time, I believe that history should be well written to make its lessons accessible to the widest possible audience.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 1997
Format: Paperback
Even people with above-average knowledge of American history usually associate the name Custer with defeat. But what most don't know is that, 11 or 12 years before his last stand at the Little Big Horn, Custer's name was almost synonymous with victory. What made his defeat at the Little Big Horn so shocking was his brilliant record in the Civil War. The Indians did what the Rebels were never able to do. Those who are not specialists in the American Civil War have also been taught that Confederate cavalry was far superior to Union cavalry. While this was usually true in the early years of the war (1861-2), exactly the opposite was true by 1864. And one of the best, if not THE best of the Union cavalry commanders was George Armstrong Custer. Phil Sheridan, no slouch himself, once called Custer "the best man in the Cavalry Corps." One of the youngest generals in the Union army (he graduated from West Point just in time to take part in the first battle of Bull Run as a 2nd lieutenant), Custer took command of a cavalry brigade just in time for the battle of Gettysburg and played an important part in that battle (often ignored). In the fall of 1864 he was promoted to division command and played a crucial role in the Appomattox campaign. Urwin (who is a friend of mine, though we've never met--we've corresponded) presents Custer's little-known Civil War career in very readable prose, and I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Custer, the Civil War, or military history in general
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Walrus Rex on August 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book tells the fascinating story of George Armstrong Custer's Civil War career. The self-confidence of this man, followed by his real accomplishment, is amazing. Prior to reading this book, I was aware of only Custer's battle with Jeb Stuart at Gettysburg. Now I find that Custer met Stuart on numerous occasions and, in fact, it was his brigade that was responsible for Stuart's death at Yellow Tavern. For the life of me, I can't figure out why this epic rivalry between these two great cavalry leaders is not better known.

The bad news is that the writing is merely adequate. The prose is a tad purple and the last chapter, in which the author summarizes his theory that Custer was truly a great military leader, is superfluous in that the author has done a much more convincing job in merely telling the tale. Finally, I might quibble about the title. I almost didn't buy this book because I thought it was an alternative history of Little Big Horn.

We live in an age with a scarcity of heroes. This book presents us a hero in the classic mold. We could do worse than to emulate this man. It is perhaps telling of our times, however, that rather than to acknowledge Custer's heroism, we defame his memory.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bruce L. Nelson on February 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Popular opinion of George Armstrong Custer has changed dramatically through the years. During the Civil War and for decades afterword, he was regarded as a true American Hero. Then sentiment switched, based almost entirely on his death in what has become a politically incorrect battle.
Custer's value in preserving the Union during the Civil War was so profound, General Phil Sheridan presented the table upon which the surrender was signed to Custer's wife and said "...there is scarcely an individual in our service who has contributed more to bring about this desirable result than your gallant husband."
This book relates many accounts of how Custer, arriving upon a battle, could instantly size up the situation and seize the initiative. He inspired his men in battle and when he ordered them to charge he would lead them personally, miraculously escaping the hundreds of bullets fired at him by an enemy who could easily recognize him by his long blonde hair and flamboyant dress. One of his cavalry troopers said, "Under him a man is ashamed to be cowardly. Under HIM our men can achieve wonders."
Following is a quote from the book, about Custer in the battle of Five Forks: " 'We are going to take those works and we are not coming back until we get them!' The Red Ties lunged ahead...Old Curly and his staff in front as always...General Custer's Bugler, Color Bearer, and Orderly...All went down...Miraculously, Custer was untouched by that scything fusillade. Swinging down from his saddle like a stunt rider, he grabbed his fallen guidon without dismounting, swirled it over his head, jammed his spurs into his horse, streaked right up to the enemy, and leaped his charger over the earthworks."
Custer's actions in the Civil War are now allowed to speak for themselves in Urwin's outstanding book. If you are interested in the Civil War and admire personal courage, you will enjoy "Custer Victorious."
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A good read. We see a man who seized the moment and became one of the youngest most decorated and honored generals in our country's history. His critics called him "the boy general". Perhaps the most impressive attribute about him was "that when a hero was needed, he saddled up and charged" when no one else would. Like him or not, he liked a good fight and would race the devil himself to get to it first. He stood up and was counted. He pushed himself and the men who rode with him throughout the Virginia country side. In Urwin's accounting, you can almost all but hear the sabers rattle, the canons roar, and the clash of men desperately fighting as Custer led his Michigan Wolverines to glory within the most trying time in American history. For too long this part of the Custer past has been hidden to the casual reader of American history. He was then and is today a real American hero. Though often misunderstood. He lived, he breathed, he loved, and in the end he found that he bled real blood. There is much to know about this man and the foot print he and the 7th Cav left on the dusty pages of American history. Perhaps it is as Evan S. Connal, "Son of Morning Star"said, "If our heroes prove to be immortal then so, perhaps, are we. The man knew no fear, that is what made him so dangerous to his enemies, on both sides. He expected to win every time--he always had, and in his mind at least, he always would.
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