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custerA few weeks back, an old friend of the decanter put up a link on FB to General George A. Custer’s My Life on the Plains.  Originally written as a series of articles between 1872 and 1874 and later condensed in book form, it recounts Custer’s campaigns against the Plains Indians from 1867 to 1869 in Oklahoma and Texas, including the Battle of the Washita River

Being what I am, I immediately nipped over to the devil’s website and secured myself a copy.  With the help (so I gather from the introduction) of some very generous editing, I found the book to be a quite satisfying and lucid account of frontier life at the time, told in a surprisingly fair manner.  Custer didn’t moralize much about Westward Expansion and the plight of the Indigenous Peoples,  he simply recognized it as an inevitable and inherently ugly historical clash and got on with his job.  And  his views on the inept treatment of the matter by the muckety-mucks back in Washington are quite clear-sighted.

I also believe I gained a much better understanding of Custer’s disastrous tactical decisions at Little Big Horn.

You see, from his earlier experiences described in this book, it quickly became clear to Custer that chasing Indians all over the plains was a mug’s game, and that the only way to strike an effective military blow was to catch them in their villages.   Custer also learned from experience that even if you managed to find a village, as soon as the Indians got wind of your approach they would scatter in every direction and you’d have to start the chase all over again.   At the Washita, again putting aside the morality of the thing, Custer in fact did a very good job in getting the drop on his enemies and then hammering them.

Hence his belief that to mop up the Sioux at Little Big Horn, he would have to hit their camp hard and fast while also leading a flanking force to bottle them up.   As to his failure to properly scout the Sioux in order to learn how many he was actually dealing with,  other sources I’ve read state that Custer thought his troops had been spotted coming over the ridge and that he believed he didn’t have time for fooling with recon operations, lest his quarry fade away.

So while I certainly am not defending Custer’s movements at Little Big Horn, I think it’s fair to say that he was not just acting the arrogant loon, but instead was working from successful combat experience, at least so far as his initial attack plan went.

By the way, it was also genuinely creepy to read what Custer was writing in 1874 while knowing full well what awaited him two years later.

I hope all of you are keeping warm this bitter day.  It’s in the mid-teens here at the moment, and the wind is whipping through like a sumbitch.

Ol’ Robbo just got done dealing with the driveway at Port Swiller Manor.  We only picked up maybe two or three inches of snow here, but we also got a layer of ice underneath it.  In my experience, there are few things more aggravating to deal with than ice under snow.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of teh decanter will know that even ol’ Robbo, cave-dweller that he is, became aware this fall of teh yootoob video sensation“What Does The Fox Say?”  (For those of you unfamiliar – yeah, I’m looking at you, Mothe – this was a goofball parody musick video put together by some Scandi comic that set an imaginary children’s book to the full pop diva dance treatment.)

Well, thankee to Mrs. R, I have now learned that some other clever fellah, recognizing A Thing when he saw it, has published an actual children’s book to fit teh video.

While regular friends of the decanter automatically roll their eyes and grip the stems of their glasses a bit tighter whenever Robbo starts in on the  state of our so-called “culchah”, I must say that in this case I look on the biznay with benevolent tolerance.  The original video juxtaposition is clever yet harmless (and, quite frankly, rayther catchy).  And the reverse-engineering of the book to take advantage of the video’s popularity amuses me, in large part because I easily could have seen myself reading it to teh gels back in the day, complete with over-the-top sound effects.


Oh, speaking of such things,  while mulling dramatic readings of imaginary children’s books, I was put in mind of Calvin’s favorite bedtime story from the old Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, “Hamster Huey and the Gooey-Kablooie”, which featured the placing of various artistic burdens on Dad such as the Squeaky Voice, the Scooshy Sound Effects and the Happy Hamster Hop.  For an instant, it occurred to me to wonder whether a market might exist for an actual Hamster Huey book.  However, before I got too carried away dreaming about which Caribbean island I would buy with the profits from such a project,  I nipped over to teh devil’s website and discovered that somebody has already tried it.   And judging by the scorn and contempt heaped on them in the reviews, I’m guessing they’re not lying on a tropical beach and sipping mai-tais.

Double heh.


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January 2014