"Wild as a Wolverine"
"The Boy General"
These and many other expressions were well known in their day. The 1860's & 70's were the days of boots and saddles.
And they were the days of General George Custer.
In his day, he was well known, as a person to emulate. Boys wanted to be like him. Girls wanted to marry a hero like him.
In many ways he was destined to be President of the US - not unlike JFK - and was seriously considering a run for the White House in 1876. He needed only "one more victory" as he lead his troops to The Little Big Horn" and hence into eternity rather than into The Executive Mansion on Pennsylvania Ave in DC.
Libby was his young bride. Upon his death, her broken heart pushed her to keep his memory fresh and in front of the American people, clear into the 1920's and 30's.
Libby lead the national effort to acknowledge her husband's Civil War successes and downplay his unfortunate end at the hands of the Sioux. His death became the death of a martyr.
She was a fascinating historical character who lived for a dead man.
In fact, shortly after he was buried that hot June day in 1876, Libby lead the efforts to have his body interred at West Point. June 26th was acknowledged each year as Custer's Day. On and on it went...
Until Libby died in 1933. It had been 57 years since she held her young handsome husband in her arms. They had no children. They were deeply in love with each other.
Her's is a story of love and ferocious commitment. She tore into ANYONE who wrote anything derogatory about "The General". She wrote articles and books, spoke often and developed a cottage industry supporting the remembrance of The Boy General.
It's also an early study in how to wage a long-term publicity campaign. A successful one, at that, for a season.
An unsuccessful campaign in the last analysis, though.
The nation simply forgot Custer.
That is, until in the 1940's when motion picture directors and authors depicted him as he was. And it was not a positive image.
Custer's Luck had finally and completely run dry.
80+ year old Libby died and was buried next to her 37 year old husband.
George Armstrong Custer's ornate obelisk and tombstone stand in stark contrast to Libby's very simple grave marker.
By the time she died, there was no PR firm to promote Mrs. George Armstrong Custer.
Self-promotion and guardians of an incorrect image, like so many examples show us, have an historically short shelf-life.