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 [decorative delimiter] Class of June 24, 1861

Vol. II

(Born O.)

George A. Custer

(Ap'd O.)


George Armstrong Custer:
Born Dec. 5, 1839, New Rumley, OH.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1857, to June 24, 1861, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 2d Cavalry, June 24, 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in drilling Volunteers at Washington, D. C., June‑July, 1861; in the Manassas Campaign of July, 1861, being engaged in the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., July to Oct., 1861; absent sick, Oct., 1861, to Feb., 1862; in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Mar. to Aug., 1862, being engaged in the Siege

(First Lieut., 5th Cavalry, July 17, 1862)

of Yorktown, Apr. 5 to May 4, 1862, — and as Aide-de‑Camp to Major-

(Captain, Staff — Additional Aide-de‑Camp, June 5, 1862)

General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McClellan, in the subsequent operations of the Campaign; as Aide-de‑Camp to Major-General McClellan in the Maryland Campaign, Sep-Oct., 1862, being engaged in the Battle of South Mountain, Sep. 14, 1862, — Battle of Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862, — and March to Warrenton, Va., Oct., 1862; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Mar. to June, 1863, being engaged in "Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stoneman's Raid" towards Richmond, Apr. 13 to May 2, 1863, — and Combat of Brandy Station, as Aide-de‑Camp to General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pleasonton, June 9, 1863; in command of Cavalry Brigade (Army of the Potomac), in the Pennsylvania Campaign, June‑July, 1863, being engaged in the Action of Aldie, June 17, 1863, —

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, June 29, 1863)

Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, — and in various Skirmishes in Pursuit

(Bvt. Major, July 3, 1863,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.)

of the enemy to Warrenton, Va., July, 1863, with constant fighting, at Monterey, July 4, Smithsburg, July 5, Hagerstown, July 6, Williamsport, July 6, Boonsborough, July 8, Hagerstown, July 12, and Williamsport, July 14, 1863; in Operations in Central Virginia, Aug., 1863, to March, 1864, being engaged in a Skirmish at King George C. H., Aug. 24, 1863, — Action at Culpeper, Sep. 13, 1863, where he was wounded, — Skirmish at Somerville Ford, Sep. 15, 1863, — Reconnoissance to Liberty Mills, Sep. 20‑24, 1863, — Action at James City, Oct. 10, and at Brandy Station, Oct. 11, 1863, — Movement to Centreville, Oct. 12‑18, 1863, — Actions at Gainesville, Oct. 19, and at Buckland's Mills, Oct. 20, 1863, — Skirmish at Stevensburg, Nov. 8, 1863, — and Mine Run Expedition, Nov. 26 to Dec. 3, 1863; on sick leave of absence, Mar.‑Apr., 1864; in command of Brigade of Cavalry Corps (Army of the Potomac), in the Richmond Campaign, Apr. 4 to Aug. 1, 1864, being engaged in the Battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, — Combat of Todd's Tavern, May 7,

(Captain, 5th Cavalry, May 8, 1864)

1864, — Raid to Haxall's Landing, and returning to New Castle, May 9‑29, 1864, — Battle of Yellow Tavern, May 11, 1864, — Combat of Meadow

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Colonel, May 11, 1864,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, Va.)

Bridge, May 12, 1864, — Action of Hanovertown, May 27, 1864, — Battle of Hawes's Shop, May 28, 1864, — Battle of Cold Harbor, May 31 to June 1, 1864, — Battle of Trevillian Station, June 11, 1864, — and Skirmish at Newark, June 12, 1864; in command of Brigade, Aug. 4 to Sep. 26, 1864, and 3d Division, Oct. 2, 1864, to Mar. 26, 1865, Cavalry Corps, in the Shenandoah Campaign, being engaged in Skirmishes near Winchester, Aug. 12, Front Royal, Aug. 16, Shepardstown, Aug. 25,  p838 Smithfield, Aug. 28, and Opequan Creek, Sep. 15, 1864, — Battle of Opequan, Sep. 19, 1864, — Actions at Cedarville, Sep. 23, Luray, Sep. 24,

(Bvt. Colonel, Sep. 19, 1864,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Winchester, Va.)

Columbia Furnace, Oct. 7, and Tom's Run, Oct. 9, 1864, — Battle of Cedar Creek, Oct. 19, 1864, — Actions of Middletown, Nov. 12, and Lacey

(Bvt. Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Oct. 19, 1864,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services
at the Battles of Winchester and Fisher's Hill, Va.)

Springs (in command), Dec. 21, 1864, — and Combat of Waynesborough

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Five Forks, Va.)

(Bvt. Major‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services during the Campaign
ending in the Surrender of the Insurgent Army of Northern Virginia)

(in command), Mar. 2, 1865; in command of Cavalry Division, Mar. 26 to May 29, 1865, being engaged in the Battle of Dinwiddie C. H., Mar. 31, 1865, — Battle of Five Forks, Apr. 1, 1865, — Battle of Sailor's Creek, Apr. 6, 1865, — Action of Appomattox Station, Apr. 8, 1865, — Capitulation of General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Lee at Appomattox C. H., Apr. 9, 1865, — and Raid to the Dan River, N. C., Apr. 24 to May 3, 1865; in command of Cavalry

(Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Apr. 15, 1865)

Division in the Military Division of the Southwest, June 3 to July 17, 1865, — and in the Military Division of the Gulf, July 17 to Nov. 13, 1865; as Chief of Cavalry of the Department of Texas, Nov. 13, 1865, to Feb. 1, 1866; and on leave of absence and awaiting orders, Feb. 1 to

(Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Feb. 1, 1866)

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 7th Cavalry, July 28, 1866)

Sep. 24, 1866.

Served: on frontier duty at Ft. Riley, Kan., Oct. 18, 1866, to Mar. 26, 1867, — and Scouting in Kansas and Colorado, to July 28, 1867; in arrest and suspended, to Aug. 12, 1868; joining regiment, to Oct. 7, 1868; on frontier duty, Scouting in Kansas and the Indian Territory, to Oct., 1869, — Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., to Apr. 23, 1869, being engaged and in command in the Action of the Washita, Nov. 27, 1868 (leave of absence, Nov. 10, 1869, to Jan. 9, 1870), — Camp near Ft. Hays, Kan., and Scouting, to Nov. 11, 1870, — and Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., to Jan. 11, 1871; on leave of absence, to Sep. 3, 1871; in garrison at Louisville, Ky., to Jan., 1872, — Elizabethtown, Ky., to Feb. 27, 1873, — and Memphis, Ten., to Apr., 1873; on frontier duty, at Yankton, Dak., Apr., 1873, — on Yellowstone Expedition, to Sep., 1873, being engaged in the fight near Tongue River, Dak., Aug. 4, 1873, and combat on the Yellowstone River, Mon., Aug. 11, 1873, — Ft. Lincoln, Dak., to June 20, 1874, — on Black Hills Expedition, to Aug. 30, 1874, — Ft. Lincoln, Dak., to Apr. 26, 1875 (detached service and leave of absence, to June 3, 1875), — and Ft. Lincoln, Dak., to Sep. 24, 1875; on leave of absence, to Feb. 15, 1876; on temporary duty at St. Paul, Min., to Mar., 1876; before Committee of the U. S. House of Representatives, to May 11, 1876; and on Sioux Expedition, to June 25, 1876, when he, with his whole command, was

Killed, June 25, 1876, in the Battle of Little Big Horn River, Mon.: Aged 37.

Civil History. — Author of "My Life on the Plains," 1874; and of various Magazine articles, 1868‑76.

Buried, West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY.

 p839  Biographical Sketch.

Brevet Major-General George Armstrong Custer was born, Dec. 5, 1839, at New Rumley, Ohio; and was killed in battle, June 25, 1876, on the Little Big Horn River, Montana Territory, at the early age of thirty-seven.

Custer, upon graduating at the U. S. Military Academy, was promoted a Second Lieutenant, June 24, 1861, in the Second Cavalry, and immediately assigned to duty in the Army of the Potomac, with which he was engaged in almost every cavalry action of that army, as appears in the foregoing record of his gallant deeds. For his meritorious services he received six brevets, from Major to Major-General; and before he was twenty-six years of age he became a Major-General of Volunteers, a rare distinction for one of his years.

"From the day he joined the army at Bull Run until he made his final Charge," says his friend and Cadet-mate, Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Schaff, "he brought to the execution of his duties an enthusiasm with which an officer cannot fail to be distinguished, and without which no cause has ever succeeded. It is not eulogy to declare he had genius, — it is plain, forcible fact; nor is it eulogy to pay his greatness the honor that it never gave room to jealousy; nor is it yielding overmuch to enthusiasm to say, as a leader of a charge he was matchless."

General Custer's last services during the Rebellion are thus summed up in his order to his troops after the Capitulation at Appomattox C. H.: "During the past six months, though in most instances confronted by superior numbers, you have captured from the enemy in open battle 111 pieces of field artillery, 65 battle-flags, and upwards of 10,000 prisoners of war, including several general officers. Within the past ten days, and included in the above, you have captured 46 field-pieces of artillery, and 37 battle-flags. You have never lost a gun, never lost a color, and never been defeated; and, notwithstanding the numerous engagements in which you have borne a prominent part, including those memorable battles of the Shenandoah, you have captured every piece of artillery which the enemy has dared to open upon you."

Custer, after the Civil War, was mostly engaged on the Western border against the savage tribes, his marches and battles being most graphically sketched in his own admirable series of articles contributed to the New York "Galaxy." These spirited sketches display the polished author no less than the dashing cavalry­man. When he made his last fatal charge, and went down, like the famous "six hundred" at Balaklava, with his whole command of 277 troopers opposed by overwhelming numbers of the savage foe, he was only thirty-seven years of age, though he had attained the rank of Lieut.‑Colonel of the gallant Seventh Cavalry.

The following sketch of Custer's characteristics is taken from a biography of him by his accomplished wife: "He was nearly six feet in height, broad-shouldered, lithe and active, with a weight never above 170 pounds. His eyes were blue, his hair and mustache of a golden tint. He was a man of immense strength and endurance, and, as he used neither liquor nor tobacco, his physical condition was perfect through all the hardships of his life. Eleven horses were shot under him in battle. At the age of twenty-three he was made a Brigadier-General, at twenty-five a Major-General. The close of the war reduced his command from thousands to hundreds; but his enthusiastic devotion to duty was not diminished, and his form was seen at the head of his men in his Indian service, just as it had been during the Civil War. He reverenced religion, he showed deference to the aged, he honored womankind, he was fond of children and devoted to animals. His domestic life was characterized by a simplicity, joyous contentment, and fondness for home that  p840 it is surprising when it is remembered that, out of the thirty-seven years of his brief life, fourteen were spent in active warfare. One of his friends wrote his history under his name in one sentence, 'This was a man.' "

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Page updated: 18 May 14