Fame Through Defeat
AH: If Custer had somehow won the battle of the Little Bighorn, would he be as famous as he is today?
JD: Absolutely not. With a success at the Little Bighorn, he might have gone on to a stellar Army career such as Nelson Miles enjoyed, and achieved that level of fame. But that would have occurred only if he received a promotion to General; otherwise, he might have been as well-known as Col. Eugene A. Carr, who defeated the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers at Summit Springs, Colorado, in 1869. I don't think either name is familiar to the general public.
If George Armstrong Custer had won the battle of the Little Bighorn, most people wouldn’t even know his name today.
Read the rest of the American Heritage interview with historian James Donovan.