Milwaukee Journalist Reconstructs Lineage from Civil War Hero Howard Cushing Through Edgar Rice Burroughs to John Carter to Flash Gordon and on to Luke Skywalker

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The John Carter Files

Meg Jones, a writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has teamed up with Civil War Buff Jim Heinz to trace the lineage of Luke Skywalker in anticipation of the release of Star Wars – The Force Awakens, and guess what?   That lineage runs right through John Carter and Edgar Rice Burroughs to  a civil war hero from Wisconsin.

Howard Bass Cushing (August 22, 1838–May 5, 1871), was an American soldier during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars, who was killed by the Apache during a campaign in Arizona Territory. Cushing was “spare, sinewy, and active as a cat” with “keen gray or bluish green eyes.” His  reputation as an Indian fighter made him renowned throughout the young American southwest immediately following the end of the Civil War.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, who of course served in Indian Country and knew the lore, was aware of Cushing.  Was he the source of inspiration for John Carter?  Many think so.

Anyway, you probably get where it’s headed, but I”m not giong to spoil it.  Here’s an intro and a link. Give it a read.

Is Luke Skywalker of ‘Star Wars’ inspired by Wisconsin war hero?

by Meg Jones

Luke Skywalker, the swashbuckling, light saber-rattling hero of George Lucas’ imagination, could be based on a Civil War hero born in Milwaukee.

Emphasis on “could.”

Some “Stars Wars” fans will likely scoff at the idea that Darth Vader’s son was inspired by a soldier who lost his father at a young age and left home to wage war in a land far, far away.

But an amateur historian and Civil War buff from Milwaukee thinks he can draw a fairly straight line from Howard Bass Cushing to the hero of the blockbuster franchise reappearing on movie screens Thursday.

This particular narrative thread involves a guy who survived brutal Civil War battles before heading west, the creator of Tarzan, the adventures of comic book hero Flash Gordon and a filmmaker who liked his science fiction light on science and heavy on fantasy.

“When you see Luke Skywalker, you’re looking at Howard Cushing,” said Jim Heinz, a retired University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee police officer who occasionally lectures on Civil War history — including the connection between “Star Wars” and Cushing.

Read the rest at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 

Also, read more about Howard Bass Cushing at Erbzine . . .

. . . . .and also read about him here, in this post in JCF by our pal 82 year old fan of Custer, Burroughs, and Cushing — Thomas McGurk.


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