Custer: hero or villain?

Following his death, Custer received much public fame, being honoured as a military hero and fearless fighter. This view was entrenched by books written by his wife, the coining of the phrase ‘Custer’s last stand’ and the production of many romanticised depictions in art. However, Custer and his actions also received much criticism. Speaking to the New York Herald in 1876, President Ulysses S Grant said that he regarded “Custer’s massacre as a sacrifice of troops, brought on by Custer himself, that was wholly unnecessary.” Further, modern historians indicate Custer was very reckless in his pursuit of the Native American tribes.