Ellon Probus Club hears about Custer’s life

Ellon Probus Club president Norman Davidson warmly welcomed two new members, Duncan Castles and Ian Ellis, to the meeting on June 25.

Norman then introduced fellow member Charles Reid, a military history buff, who chose to talk on the Life and Times of General George Armstrong Custer, a figure of myth, legend and everlasting controversy in US history.

Every schoolboy’s hero, Custer is envisaged leading a charge of the 7th Cavalry to the sound of the bugle with his sword raised and pistol blazing as he massacres his way through the indigenous Indians.

Custer, the son of a German immigrant family, was born in Michigan in 1839. He proved to be a poor scholar and achieved low grades. He was, however, accepted to West Point military college where due to his inattentiveness and rebellious nature, he graduated not surprisingly foot of his class.

Academia aside, Custer was soon to rise through the ranks, achieving the level of general at the age of 25.

He played a large part in the American Civil War (1861-1865) and later in the Indian Wars as the white east coast Americans perpetrated probably the biggest land grab in history and expelled the native Indian tribes from their traditional lands to far and distant reservations.

In 1876 Custer led one such attack on the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes at the Little Bighorn in northern Dakota. This was a rash attack that displayed gross over-confidence and resulted in the annihilation of the cavalry unit and to Custer’s death. This defeat remains a stain on American military history.

The vote of thanks was given by Alan Cameron. The next meeting is on July 9 when Alex Mathewson will speak on his adventures in Vietnam and Cambodia.