COLUMBUS (TDB) -- George Armstrong Custer's desire for glory got his cavalry detachment of 258 troopers slaughtered in a legendary showdown with Sitting Bull's overwhelming force during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s. Now, the Ohio Historical Society is seeking state funds to restore the Custer Monument State Memorial at the general's birthplace in New Rumley, an unincorporated hamlet in rural Harrison County. Census data shows about 1,500 people live in Rumley Township -- and only one claims any Native American ancestry. The historical society has the Custer memorial on its wish list of capital projects to be built or repaired between 2009 and 2014. Site and building improvements are planned:
"A bronze statue stands on the site of George Armstrong Custer's birthplace in New Rumley. Custer, born in 1839, became famous as a daring young cavalryman in the Civil War. Visitors art the exhibit pavilions may see the spirited qualities of the young fighter whose 'last stand' has made his name a household word. Conservation treatment of the Custer statue is necessary for the preservation of the monument. Trimming trees, re-roofing the outbuildings and maintaining the landscape will enhance and preserve the site."
Some may consider it a waste of money. Custer's job was to drive the Indians off the Plains and onto reservations -- an act of ethnic cleansing. And his poor leadership cost his men of the 7th Cavalry their lives, and none of their names seem to be mentioned at the state monument memorializing Custer's folly. The statue was dedicated in 1932 and reportedly cost $10,000. There is a picture of the site
available here. Over the years, Indians have held rallies at the Custer site -- he is a reviled figure among the Lakota and other tribes. Maybe it is time to let him fade away.