He was vain. He was known for his striking blonde hair, cinnamon scented and longer than the fashion of the day, as essential to his image as twinkle to a star. Gold braids adorned his clothing. He enjoyed success early in life, earning a promotion that made him the youngest general in the Union Army. To honor the occasion, and himself, he donned a special uniform partly because, according to History.net, “he wanted a distinctive uniform so his men could see him during combat.” The impact was not limited to the troops who served under him. As the same website notes, “Superior officers and newspapermen could also see such striking attire, unlike any other in the army.” That was not an accident. He was one of the first media personalities in American history and was skilled in his use of the news outlets of the day.
He was arrogant and sometimes broke the rules. He violated a treaty and ventured into Native American lands when gold was discovered there, resulting in hostility on the part of the tribes and an effort to confine them to reservations. He once went absent without leave and was court-martialed twice. He failed to follow the orders of his commander and, on the second such occasion, did not live to regret it. He was an author and sought out book deals. He publicly feuded with the President, Ulysses S. Grant, and wrote magazine articles critical of Grant’s attempt to achieve peaceful relations with Native American tribes. He dreamed of becoming President and told associates his future would include the White House.