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The Great Showman by Steve Payne

Author says: what if Custer's injury at the Battle of Gettysburg ended his promising military career? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

In 1863, on July 3rd the promising military career of Cavalry Commander George Armstrong Custer ended prematurely on this final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Custer's recklessness was in many ways an exaggerated reflection of the desire for boldness that Lincoln sought in his commanders. He was in fact rather lucky to have survived to the ripe old age of twenty-three. Because at Hunterstown, in an ill-considered charge ordered by Kilpatrick against the brigade of Wade Hampton, Custer fell from his wounded horse directly before the enemy and became the target of numerous enemy rifles.

"I challenge the annals of warfare to produce a more brilliant or successful charge of cavalry" ~ Custer on Custer's DashThrough sheer luck he survived to receive a promotion to brigade command of the 1st Michigan Cavalry just five days before Gettysburg. His preparation for battle included outfitting with a ludicrous black velvet suit of his own design. And on the final day of the battle, he led a wild charge directly in the path of Jeb Stuart's horsemen yelling "come on you wolverines!". 257 men died in "Custer's Dash", the highest loss of any Union cavalry brigade. And his own famous luck ran out (or perhaps other's luck was in), as his horse was shot from under him.

After the Civil War, and out of uniform, Custer turned his attentions to a career in politics. But he soon discovered that his innate gifts of luck, self-promotion and over-exhuberance needed to be complemented with a higher order of intelligence that he sadly lacked. Dispirited, he was to find some form of happiness in an alternative career in showmanship, joining Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and starring alongside another warrior known as Sitting Bill.

Author says the idea for this story originated from the source articles in American Heritage Magazine, Spring 2010 Edition and also Wikipedia.
To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

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Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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