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a_complete_life_of_general_custer_part_1 [2013/12/15 18:21]
eeharris
a_complete_life_of_general_custer_part_1 [2018/07/29 01:22] (current)
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 Custer had now lived at Monroe, off and on, for four years. His return to Ohio must have seemed to him an exile, for he ever after seems to have looked on Monroe as his home. He went back to New Rumley, and soon after obtained a place as teacher at Hopedale, Ohio, not far from his native place. Here he earned his first money — not much to our notions now, but a little fortune to him in those days. Twenty-six dollars a month and his board were the terms, and he brought the whole of his first month'​s salary and poured it into his mother'​s lap. In after years he often referred to the joy he then experienced as being the greatest he had ever known, as being his first opportunity to repay in a measure the love of his parents, for whom he ever cherished the fondest affection. That affection was well deserved. Hitherto we have spoken but little of Custer'​s father and mother, but when we reflect on the fact that out of the savings of a small farm, and burdened with the support of a large family, they had managed to pay for the best education then to be found in the Western country for their eldest son, we can understand much of the spring of that son's energy and goodness of character. ​ Custer had now lived at Monroe, off and on, for four years. His return to Ohio must have seemed to him an exile, for he ever after seems to have looked on Monroe as his home. He went back to New Rumley, and soon after obtained a place as teacher at Hopedale, Ohio, not far from his native place. Here he earned his first money — not much to our notions now, but a little fortune to him in those days. Twenty-six dollars a month and his board were the terms, and he brought the whole of his first month'​s salary and poured it into his mother'​s lap. In after years he often referred to the joy he then experienced as being the greatest he had ever known, as being his first opportunity to repay in a measure the love of his parents, for whom he ever cherished the fondest affection. That affection was well deserved. Hitherto we have spoken but little of Custer'​s father and mother, but when we reflect on the fact that out of the savings of a small farm, and burdened with the support of a large family, they had managed to pay for the best education then to be found in the Western country for their eldest son, we can understand much of the spring of that son's energy and goodness of character. ​
  
-Long years after, when Custer was distinguished among men, an eminent warrior, courted and petted by all, he wrote his father and mother a letter, which is worthy of being printed in letters of gold.' ​It shows what parents and what a son combined to make the perfect knight that Custer became. "We quote but a fragment, in answer to one of their letters, in which the modest parents have disclaimed any merit of their own in the success of their brilliant son. Custer writes : +Long years after, when Custer was distinguished among men, an eminent warrior, courted and petted by all, he wrote his father and mother a letter, which is worthy of being printed in letters of gold. It shows what parents and what a son combined to make the perfect knight that Custer became. "We quote but a fragment, in answer to one of their letters, in which the modest parents have disclaimed any merit of their own in the success of their brilliant son. Custer writes : 
  
 *You do yourself injustice when you say you did but little for me. You may forget it, but I never can. There is not a day but I think with deep gratitude of the many sacrifices, the love and devotion you and mother have constantly bestowed upon me. You could not have done more for me than you have. A fortune would be nothing to me with what I am indebted to you for. I never wanted for any tiling necessary, and if you did not give me a fortune in money, you did what was infinitely better. You and mother instilled into my mind correct principles of industry honesty, self-reliance;​ I was taught the distinction between wrong and right; I was taught the value of temperate habits; and I now look back to my childhood and the days spent under the home roof, as a period of the purest happiness; and I feel thankful for such noble parents. I know but few if any boys are so blessed as I have been, by haying such kind, self-sacrificing parents to train and guide them as I have had. I know I might heap millions of dollars at your feet, and still the debt of gratitude on my part would be undiminished. ​ *You do yourself injustice when you say you did but little for me. You may forget it, but I never can. There is not a day but I think with deep gratitude of the many sacrifices, the love and devotion you and mother have constantly bestowed upon me. You could not have done more for me than you have. A fortune would be nothing to me with what I am indebted to you for. I never wanted for any tiling necessary, and if you did not give me a fortune in money, you did what was infinitely better. You and mother instilled into my mind correct principles of industry honesty, self-reliance;​ I was taught the distinction between wrong and right; I was taught the value of temperate habits; and I now look back to my childhood and the days spent under the home roof, as a period of the purest happiness; and I feel thankful for such noble parents. I know but few if any boys are so blessed as I have been, by haying such kind, self-sacrificing parents to train and guide them as I have had. I know I might heap millions of dollars at your feet, and still the debt of gratitude on my part would be undiminished. ​
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 There is something in the Military Academy so totally different from the usual life of America, that it has fixed a great gulf between West Pointers and the outside world, none the less real because impalpable. It shows itself in the reception accorded to the "​Plebe"​ when he first enters the Academy, so different from that accorded to a Freshman at college, the nearest person to a Plebe in condition. The poor Plebe comes from the world of freedom, and enters another world, where implicit obedience is the unflinching rule. Instantly, every one seems to set on him to make his life miserable. From time immemorial it seems to have been the tradition at the Academy, that every new-comer should be made to suffer all the discomforts possible, during his first months, without a possibility of escape. His ordinary treatment has been embalmed in some very truthful, though undeniably doggerel verses, in the "West Point Scrap Book," entitled "West Point Life." The composition from which they are taken was written for the Dialectic Society of West Point in 1859, and therefore may be said to portray very accurately the state of society at the " Point,"​ when Custer was a cadet. The minstrel, describing the Plebe, breaks out:  There is something in the Military Academy so totally different from the usual life of America, that it has fixed a great gulf between West Pointers and the outside world, none the less real because impalpable. It shows itself in the reception accorded to the "​Plebe"​ when he first enters the Academy, so different from that accorded to a Freshman at college, the nearest person to a Plebe in condition. The poor Plebe comes from the world of freedom, and enters another world, where implicit obedience is the unflinching rule. Instantly, every one seems to set on him to make his life miserable. From time immemorial it seems to have been the tradition at the Academy, that every new-comer should be made to suffer all the discomforts possible, during his first months, without a possibility of escape. His ordinary treatment has been embalmed in some very truthful, though undeniably doggerel verses, in the "West Point Scrap Book," entitled "West Point Life." The composition from which they are taken was written for the Dialectic Society of West Point in 1859, and therefore may be said to portray very accurately the state of society at the " Point,"​ when Custer was a cadet. The minstrel, describing the Plebe, breaks out: 
  
-When landed at the Point, you ask a man where you report,  +  ​When landed at the Point, you ask a man where you report,  
-And ten to one you get from him a withering retort.  +  And ten to one you get from him a withering retort.  
-He'll say, " Subordination,​ Plebe'​s,​ of discipline the root;  +  He'll say, " Subordination,​ Plebe'​s,​ of discipline the root;  
-When you address an old Cadet, forget not to salute."​  +  When you address an old Cadet, forget not to salute."​  
-He sends you to a room and says, " Report and then come back."​ +  He sends you to a room and says, " Report and then come back."​ 
-You enter and discover there only the old boot-black.  +  You enter and discover there only the old boot-black.  
-You wander like Telemachus; at last you find the place  +  You wander like Telemachus; at last you find the place  
-And see the dread Instructor — yes, and meet him face to face.  +  And see the dread Instructor — yes, and meet him face to face.  
-He shouts out, " Stand attention, sir ! hands close upon your pants,  +  He shouts out, " Stand attention, sir ! hands close upon your pants,  
-And stand erect. Hold up your head ! There — steady ! don't advance;  +  And stand erect. Hold up your head ! There — steady ! don't advance;  
-Turn out your toes still further, look straight toward the front,  +  Turn out your toes still further, look straight toward the front,  
-Draw in your chin ! Throw out your chest ! Now steady ! Don't you grunt."​  +  Draw in your chin ! Throw out your chest ! Now steady ! Don't you grunt."​  
-Says the Instructor "​Where'​s my pen? this old one doesn'​t suit me."  +  Says the Instructor "​Where'​s my pen? this old one doesn'​t suit me."  
-"There it is, sir." "You hold your tongue ! How dare you talk on duty?  +  "There it is, sir." "You hold your tongue ! How dare you talk on duty?  
-I'm not surprised to see you quail and flatter like a partridge.  +  I'm not surprised to see you quail and flatter like a partridge.  
-But soldiers'​ mouths must only open when they tear a cartridge."​  +  But soldiers'​ mouths must only open when they tear a cartridge."​  
-He wants to know all things you've brought, your clothes of every kind;  +  He wants to know all things you've brought, your clothes of every kind;  
-(You think the gentleman'​s endowed with an enquiring mind)  +  (You think the gentleman'​s endowed with an enquiring mind)  
-You get a broom, some matches, and a bed made up of patches.  +  You get a broom, some matches, and a bed made up of patches.  
-Though little do you think such schools could ever have their matches.  +  Though little do you think such schools could ever have their matches.  
-A comforter you also get, a thing that most you need, A comforter! It's one of Job's, a sorry one indeed. ​+  A comforter you also get, a thing that most you need, A comforter! It's one of Job's, a sorry one indeed. ​
  
-On your return, report yourself,"​ they earnestly exhort you.  +  ​On your return, report yourself,"​ they earnestly exhort you.  
-Report yourself!!! When twenty men are eager to report you.  +  Report yourself!!! When twenty men are eager to report you.  
-You're now assigned to quarters — there deposit bed and broom.  +  You're now assigned to quarters — there deposit bed and broom.  
-And though in want of shelter, wish for you there was no room.  +  And though in want of shelter, wish for you there was no room.  
-Are these the luxuries on which our Senators agree?  +  Are these the luxuries on which our Senators agree?  
-You do not fancy this "​hot-bed of aristocracy."​  +  You do not fancy this "​hot-bed of aristocracy."​  
-The drill drum beats, so does your heart, and down the stairs you scud.  +  The drill drum beats, so does your heart, and down the stairs you scud.  
-You slip before you reach the ranks, fall full length in the mud;  +  You slip before you reach the ranks, fall full length in the mud;  
-How strange you think it when next night reported you have been.  +  How strange you think it when next night reported you have been.  
-In spite of all your efforts, for neglecting to" fall in." ​+  In spite of all your efforts, for neglecting to" fall in." ​
  
-When reading in your room, absorbed in prison discipline,  +  ​When reading in your room, absorbed in prison discipline,  
-You suddenly hear some one knock; jump up, and cry "Come in!”  +  You suddenly hear some one knock; jump up, and cry "Come in!”  
-You find the dread Instructor already in the door.  +  You find the dread Instructor already in the door.  
-He says "Did you give that command to your Superior?"​  +  He says "Did you give that command to your Superior?"​  
-You ask to be forgiven, say you'll never do it no more,  +  You ask to be forgiven, say you'll never do it no more,  
-You didn't yet know all the rules and articles of war.  +  You didn't yet know all the rules and articles of war.  
-Next day they march you into camp. How pretty it does look!  +  Next day they march you into camp. How pretty it does look!  
-That you may fare the better, you have brought a cookery book.  +  That you may fare the better, you have brought a cookery book.  
-You get in camp, an old cadet cries, "Come put up this tent."  +  You get in camp, an old cadet cries, "Come put up this tent."  
-And with the aid he renders you, you're very well content.  +  And with the aid he renders you, you're very well content.  
-You thank him, take possession; when you find that all is done.  +  You thank him, take possession; when you find that all is done.  
-He coolly tells you "​Plebe,​ that's mine; go, get another one.  +  He coolly tells you "​Plebe,​ that's mine; go, get another one.  
-What you have done is only play; Plebes always make mistakes."​  +  What you have done is only play; Plebes always make mistakes."​  
-Foul play you think it is, when you have put down all the stakes.  +  Foul play you think it is, when you have put down all the stakes.  
-You possibly are six feet high; some officer you dread  +  You possibly are six feet high; some officer you dread  
-Arrests you at the break of day for lying long in bed. +  Arrests you at the break of day for lying long in bed. 
  
-July the Fourth at last arrives; you think it rather hard.  +  ​July the Fourth at last arrives; you think it rather hard.  
-When on this day of liberty, the Plebes must go on guard.  +  When on this day of liberty, the Plebes must go on guard.  
-You go on post, the night arrives, you scarcely are alive.  +  You go on post, the night arrives, you scarcely are alive.  
-But still a lonely watch you keep, way down on " No. 5."  +  But still a lonely watch you keep, way down on " No. 5."  
-At first you like the lonely post, the path's so nicely levelled.  +  At first you like the lonely post, the path's so nicely levelled.  
-But soon you share the fate of ham — that is, you're nicely " devilled'​  +  But soon you share the fate of ham — that is, you're nicely " devilled'​  
-Bodies vast of men approach, and sound their rude alarms —  +  Bodies vast of men approach, and sound their rude alarms —  
-From divers punches you receive, you find they all have arms —  +  From divers punches you receive, you find they all have arms —  
-Baggage wagons, ropes, and ghosts, upon your post appear —  +  Baggage wagons, ropes, and ghosts, upon your post appear —  
-Teeth begin to chatter— though, of course, it's not through fear,  +  Teeth begin to chatter— though, of course, it's not through fear,  
-A spirit white you seize upon, and hold it on your post,  +  A spirit white you seize upon, and hold it on your post,  
-Until the corporal arrives, when you give up the ghost.  +  Until the corporal arrives, when you give up the ghost.  
-When in a wheel-barrow you fall, that's moving up behind.  +  When in a wheel-barrow you fall, that's moving up behind.  
-To rapidly desert your post, you're forcibly inclined.  +  To rapidly desert your post, you're forcibly inclined.  
-Then you swear that you'll resign, the climate is too damp,  +  Then you swear that you'll resign, the climate is too damp,  
-But once within the tented field, you find you can't decamp.  +  But once within the tented field, you find you can't decamp.  
-Resolving then to be content, there'​s no more hesitation.  +  Resolving then to be content, there'​s no more hesitation.  
-You find more satisfaction in this kind of resignation.  +  You find more satisfaction in this kind of resignation.  
-Spartan like, you stay until encampment has an end.  +  Spartan like, you stay until encampment has an end.  
-And when that time is closing up, your times begin to mend. +  And when that time is closing up, your times begin to mend. 
  
 The woes of the poor Plebe on first joining, as recited in the above pathetic ballad, are by no means over-strained. An old graduate says of the new comers very feelingly: "We can not but feel an involuntary pity for the new cadet who is just landing at the old wharf, where a sentinel is waiting to conduct him to the adjutant'​s office, there to record his entrance on — he knows not what small and great tribulations." ​ The woes of the poor Plebe on first joining, as recited in the above pathetic ballad, are by no means over-strained. An old graduate says of the new comers very feelingly: "We can not but feel an involuntary pity for the new cadet who is just landing at the old wharf, where a sentinel is waiting to conduct him to the adjutant'​s office, there to record his entrance on — he knows not what small and great tribulations." ​

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