Mathew Hill



English101 sec 511

September26, 2016

TheWays We Lie: Custer

Peoplelie every day whether it is meant to be hurtful, to get somethingthey want, or to save someone from being hurt. In the article, “TheTime When Custer Stole a Horse,”there are a few individuals accusedof being dishonest or “lying.” Stiles points out that JuniusGarland, a simple slave who cared for Don Juan, could have beendeceitful. The second person accused of insincerity is an unnamedfreedman who led the union army soldiers to Don Juan’s location.The last individual is General Custer, the military leader whoordered some of his soldiers to acquire Don Juan and demanded thatthey retrieve the animal’s pedigree in print (Stiles). He acted outof greed and false entitlement. I feel that of the three men, onlyone was truly dishonest and had ill intentions, and that was GeneralCuster.

JuniusGarland could be considered dishonest because he hid Don Juan fromthe Union Soldiers, but Garland’s intentions were not bad. He tookcare of Don Juan for several years which shows that he cared deeplyfor the horse and did not want him to be taken away. The unnamedfreedman could also be considered dishonest for telling the UnionSoldiers where to find Don Juan (Stiles). However, I do not think hisintentions were actually corrupt either. It is possible that he wasjust trying to help the Union Army out because they did just fightand win a war for his freedom.On the other hand, General Custer trulyhad bad intentions. For his selfish gain, he sent some of hissoldiers to acquire Don Juan and his pedigree. He did not need a newhorse he was an officer of the Union Army, so he most likely had oneof the finest horses in the army. He wanted Don Juan, not out ofnecessity but out of greed. Custer used his power to take control andtake what he did not need.I know this because he insisted onobtaining Don Juan’s pedigree so he could prove the horse’sworth. On top of the fact that he did not need Don Juan, the CivilWar had ended sixteen days earlier. One could argue that wordtraveled slowly during that time period but again, in the article,Stiles observes that General Custer would have been one of the firstofficers informed of the war ending. He could not claim Don Juan asspoils of war with knowledge of the war’s end (Stiles).

Custer’sactions can lead one to believe that he had a false sense ofentitlement like many high-ranking military officers. I have alsoexperienced a surprisingly familiar situation.In 2007, I was servingin the United States Army in the 101stAirborne Division as a light infantryman stationed in Iraq. I wasassigned to a tactical strike team, but a big part of my job was toprotect and escort high ranking military officers around our area ofoperation. My unit had to escort a general to a palace we raided thenight before so he could observe the aftermath. While walking throughthe palace, we came across the garage filled with four luxuryMercedes Benz automobiles. Selfishly, the general had a couple of usdrive one of these cars back to our base so he could drive it aroundfor his own personal use. He did not need this car he already hadthe newest and safest armored vehicle. He felt he deserved the verybest one due to his false sense of entitlement. And just like I didin my experience, General Custer used his power to take the somethinghe did not need but wanted: Don Juan (Stiles).

Somethat are dishonest may have good or noble intentions where othersmake decisions based onpersonal gain. Stiles argue that JuniusGarland had good intentions because he was protecting and hidingsomething he loved. I feel the freedman had good intentions as wellsince he did not know the situation at hand he was simply asked aquestion to which he gave an answer for. Based on my firsthandknowledge of how men think, I feel General Custer’s dishonesty wastruly bad. His greed and false sense of entitlement made him truly adeceitful man.


Stiles,T.J. ThatTime When Custer Stole a Horse”.Smithsonian Magazine. November,2015