Date of Award

Spring 4-19-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. John Daley

Second Advisor

Dr. Kirstin Lawson

Third Advisor

Steven Cox


In 1876 Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer led five companies of the 7th Cavalry to complete annihilation near the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory. One of Custer’s subalterns, Lieutenant Edward Godfrey, wrote and spoke publicly praising his dead commander’s tactical decisions. Godfrey was the most influential participant of Custer’s last battle to shape the Little Bighorn narrative. Custer’s widow, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, and ironically Custer critic Captain Frederick Benteen swayed Godfrey to view Custer in a more positive light. I will argue that Elizabeth Custer and Frederick Benteen’s coercion was important but ultimately Godfrey arrived at his own conclusions. His published analysis was factual and sound.

Cheyenne Drawings_Frontier Army Museum_66.50.1A (2).pdf (4288 kB)
1880's Cheyenne drawing of an Army attack



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