|“||The army has dealt with wild horses before. This one will be no different.||„|
|~ The Colonel examining Spirit.|
|“||I don't believe it.||„|
|~ The Colonel's last words.|
George Armstrong Custer, better known as The Colonel, is the main antagonist of DreamWorks' 6th full-length animated feature film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (sometimes called Spirit), despite his small role as the majority of Spirit's scenes focus on him with the Cimmaron horses, Rain, or Little Creek.
He was voiced by James Cromwell, who also played Robert Callaghan in Disney's Big Hero 6, Dr. Arthur Arden in American Horror Story: Asylum, Captain Dudley Smith in L.A. Confidential, Joseph Campbell in The General's Daughter, and Warden Hazen in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard.
The Colonel (who is loosely based off of the real life Colonel George Custer because of similar appearance and behavior) is the commander of a cavalry battalion (presumably the 7th cavalry which is what Custer commanded). Like most Americans expanding the west and his real life counterpart, he is completely arrogant and xenophobic towards Native Americans and believes that the United States is destined to dominate all off the Western areas of North America. He possesses a calm and calculating attitude and rarely loses his temper. However, he is a ruthless horseback rider and a strict disciplinarian, as shown when he denies Spirit food or water for three days after numerous failed attempts at breaking him. He is also shown to be aggressive in battle, as demonstrated when he attacked a Lakota village, endangering not just the warriors, but the unarmed villagers.
However, the Colonel also appears to have at least some sense of honor and humility if he realizes he has been beaten, as shown after Spirit and Little Creek escaped by jumping the Grand Canyon. Realizing he has lost, he orders his men to stand down and leave, even nodding in recognition.
The Colonel met Spirit after the wranglers brought him to his army base. Despite the mustang's wild behavior, he ordered his men to break him; but all attempts failed. The Colonel orders Spirit to be tied to a post and denied food and water for three days as punishment for defiance. During those three days, the Colonel was introduced to Little Creek, a Lakota tribesman who was caught stealing supplies and weapons from the base. He had him tied up to a post with no food or water as well. When Spirit's three days were up, the Colonel tried to break him himself, and he almost succeeded. But Spirit gained his confidence back and threw the Colonel off. Enraged, the Colonel tried to kill Spirit with a Colt Revolver, but Little Creek saved Spirit and they escaped along with the Cavalry horses.
The Colonel and his men got more horses and launched a surprise attack on a Lakota Village. Unbeknownst to the Colonel, the village he was attacking was Little Creek's village. Little Creek confronted the Colonel, but his horse Rain (whom Spirit had strong feelings for) was shot by the Colonel. The Colonel then tried to kill Little Creek, but Spirit knocked the Colonel off his horse. The Colonel was surprised at Spirit's coincidental reappearance. His men then captured Spirit and sent him to a railway station while they leave Rain to die.
Final Confrontation and Redemption
He and his Cavalry unit accidentally found Spirit and Little Creek in the Grand Canyon, after the mustang had destroyed the Northern Pacific Railway when it found out it was going to invade his homeland. After a dangerous chase, Spirit and Little Creek escaped by literally jumping over the Grand Canyon. This act amazed the Colonel. One of his men tried to shoot Spirit, but the Colonel stopped him. Both exchanged nods of recognition and the Colonel left quietly with his men.
- His real name "George Armstrong Custer" is never mentioned in the film.
- Although he is the main antagonist, he has little screen time.
- Gene Hackman was considered for the role of the Colonel.