Hard Hitting Account of the LBH: Reno and Benteen Skinned , January 3, 2005

Reviewer: Daniel Hurley (Chesapeake, VA.) - See all my reviews

This is a blunt straightforward account of the Little Big Horn with no holds bared. It reminds me a great deal of Graham's great work the "Custer Myth" which provided a ton or resource material from all sides of view, Indian, scout and military participants. But Unger uses more recently discovered material such as the famous Maguire (Gibbon's engineer) map that apparently was altered many times at the time of the Reno trial, new documents written by Benteen only discovered in the 1950's and many accounts of participants both Indian and military to show what happened on the day that a 1/3 of the 7th cavalry met their death. Utilizing Walter Camps extensive references, comments and map by Philo Clark the great Indian interpreter, the Reno trial transcripts, and various Indian testimonies, Unger makes one of the strongest cases that Reno and Benteen failed Custer and left his battalion to fight the Indians alone. Includes several new perspectives and questions such as Daniel Kanipe, the next to last messenger or deserter? Was Reno drunk during the battle? Did General Merritt allow the Reno trial to be a whitewash? Why did the pack train commander not know of Kanipe's mission? Why did companies
C and I wait on the ridges behind Custer's attacking column? Were they holding for Benteen who was given the last message? Unger makers a strong case that Custer did actually attack at Medicine Trail Coulee and that it was not a feint or just a change of mind to utilize a ford further down. Unger does an impressive chronology indicating where all Custer's units were at any one time and although suggesting that Custer was on the attack when he moved north as Fox suggests, he disagrees with Fox by stating that Custer was under great pressure from the start particularly when Reno abandoned the field. Unger even speculates on whom the Officer was that Indians say was shot at Medicine Trail Coulee's ford and he provides insight into what happened to several missing Officers' bodies. Unger gives you the whole campaign perspective including Crooks abandonment of the campaign and failure to notify his superiors timely, Sheridan's failure to notify the columns of numbers of Indians leaving the reservations timely, Reno's failure to hold his position or move to Custer after Benteen's arrival, Benteen's failure go to follow Custer's orders and his deference to Reno for convenience, Reno and Benteen's claim on not hearing Custer's firing and on. No one involved with the debacle is left out that may have had a contributing part. Unger even covers the details of cavalry organization, unit size, missing officers and who the survivors were and he speculates why and how they were not with Custer. The chapters on each subject are short, very direct and loaded with evidence and testimony. The book also has a large number of photocopied exhibits from a variety of sources. My only question is that Unger credits Reno's battalion with firing a lot of ammunition but some eyewitnesses indicated that Reno's battalion took few shells when the packs arrived. Also, the Nathan Short story of the escaping trooper has not had much recent support. The only negative is that I wish I could have read the maps a bit better as they are reprinted with no additional detail and its hard to find some of the lettering that references the fords

This book is a delight to read, full of information and points of view (even challenges Fox and Scotts' archeology digs). Any LBH historian will enjoy this book since all the primary participants are highlighted and detailed probably better than any other LBH book.

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study of Custer and the Little Big Horn, February 24, 2011
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This review is from: Abcs of Custer's Last Stand: Arrogance, Betrayal and Cowardice (Hardcover)
ABC's of Custer's Last Stand: Arrogance, Betrayal and Cowardice 
Arthur C. Unger 
In Arthur Unger's words, "This book was intended to be the long needed vindication of the actions of George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Its purpose, also, was to chastize his subalterns Reno and Benteen who betrayed him and to expose Generals Sheridan, Terry and Crook's culpability in the debacle, which effectively left Custer and his Batallion alone to fight the entire Lakota Nation." Unger uses mostly primary source documentation to lay out a chapter by chapter review of the background of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and his view of the culpability of the participants involved. In this Unger uses the testimony of those that examined the battlefield shortly after the battlefield and the surviving participants involved. The appendix is filled with the telegrams and maps that provide evidence for his arguments including the original Maguire and Philo Clark maps of the battlefield. He even goes through a history of how the Maguire maps were altered for the Reno Court of Inquiry. Unger does not spare Custer for his decisions he made during the battle, but does put the ultimate blame for its lost on his subordinates. In the end at the RCOI, according to "General Jesse M. Lee who was the Recorder [or Prosecutor] at the Reno Court of Inquiry, told Walter Camp on October 27, 1912 that: 
'...Gen. [Wesley] Merritt, who drew up the conclusions of the Reno court of Inquiry, said to him when the decision was announced: 
'We have politely cursed him (Reno) and whitewashed it over.'" 
I found if of interest to note that both Major Reno (November 24, 1879) and Captain Benteen were both eventually Court Marshialed for drunk and disorderly conduct. 
I would recommend this book for any serious student of the background of the Little Big Horn

  A great amount of exhibits and primary sources - very valuable book, April 25, 2006

Reviewer: me - See all my reviews

First of all, the author is one of the biggest Custeriana collector in the world. The book is full of exhibits (Maguire's first map ever drawn, original orders, original maps) and pictures of the men of the 7th cavalry you probably have never seen. The cover is also a great artwork.

This book is a deep, serious Inquiry about the battle full of primary sources. The result is a fascinating collect of evidences against Captain Benteen and Major Reno and the whole army, which built a big cover-up to hide the betrayal. The amount of testimonies, papers, orders by Native Americans and Americans about the battle and the responsabilities of the disaster make this book one of the best ever written on Custer's Last Stand.
You won't be disapointed!

5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched account of battle, February 13, 2010
This review is from: Abcs of Custer's Last Stand: Arrogance, Betrayal and Cowardice (Hardcover)
Well what can I say but incredible, factual research put in a very smooth, enjoyable way to read! Just outstanding!This book really gripped my attention. 
So to wrap this up, it was a very powerful eye opening book, well researched and written. Great work to be proud of. This book got me to look up and acquire other books for futher research, The Custer Myth, Walter Camps notes in Custer 76.

5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Blunt Correct The ABCs Excellant book!, October 29, 2009

This review is from: Abcs of Custer's Last Stand: Arrogance, Betrayal and Cowardice (Hardcover)
I know LBH history well, but Unger knows it much better, this book is the one many educated truthminded people either wanted to write or were waiting to be wrote. Well the waits over Unger is definitely one of the best on the subject if not THE best. Not sure? If your really intrested in the truth at LBH 1876 than get this book, you wont regret it, you"ve spent more on a bad meal before and you"ll enjoy this alot more. Also if you are really intrested in LBH you"ll be picking this book up as often as you can till your done. If you want the truth as close as we can get it than this is THE BOOK!


  Abcs of Custer's Last Stand by ARTHUR C. UNGER (2004)
Review created: 10/21/08

This is not a book for the faint of heart or the casual reader. It is chock full of detail of the Custer battle at the Little Big Horn River, and the failure of his two subordinates to attempt any form of rescue or assistance when he most desperately needed it and when their help may have been the instrument of a victory rather than the instrument of the loss of much of the vaunted 7th Cavalry. Unger lays the blame squarely where it belongs. It outlines the detailed movements of the various columns based on first hand and often ignored evidence from both Indian participants in the battle and eyewitnesses immediately after. It is intense, thorough, provocative, thoughtful, and readable. This book may also be the most accurate story of Custer's last two hours of glory.

Review ID: 10000000009117669