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©2004-2015
Diane Merkel

Reproduction in whole or in part without prior written consent is prohibited.

 

George Armstrong Custer

Photograph of George Armstrong CusterCUSTER, George Armstrong, soldier, born in New Rumley, Ohio, December 5, 1839; died on June 25, 1876. After graduating at West Point in 1861, he entered into active service and took part in the battle of Bull Run, and at Manassas, where he made his first cavalry charge. He was assistant engineer in constructing earth works at Yorktown, and went in pursuit of the enemy with General Hancock. Subsequently he was appointed captain and aid to General McClellan, serving on his staff as long as he was in command. In 1863 he became aid to General A. Pleasanton, and was appointed brigadier-general. He served with General Grant in the Wilderness, and with Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. He also commanded a cavalry division in the pursuit of Lee after the evacuation of Richmond. After the war he was made lieutenant-colonel with the brevet of major-general and assigned to the seventh United States cavalry. He served on General Hancock's expedition against the Cheyennes and Sioux; but in 1867 he was tried by court-martial for cruelty to his men and for having left his command without permission. He was suspended for a year, but in 1868, at the request of General Sheridan, he was restored, rejoined his regiment, and served against the Indians. In 1873 he went with his regiment to Dakota, and served in the Yellowstone expedition, and in 1874, was sent to explore the Black Hills. His report of the fertility and mineral wealth of that region led to immigration and its encroachment on the Indian reservation and caused trouble with the Sioux, under Sitting Bull. In 1876 General Sheridan ordered an expedition to march against the Indians to settle the troubles. This moved in three columns under General Terry, General Gibbon, and General Crook. General Custer led General Terry's column, and, when reaching an encampment of the Indians on Little Big Horn river, he divided his men into three bodies and advanced with five companies. The Indians concentrated their force upon Custer's division, all the men of which, including General Custer, were massacred on June 25, 1876. General Custer was buried at West Point, where a statue of him was erected in 1879. See The Complete Life of Gen. G. A. Custer by Capt. Frederick Whittaker (New York, 1876). His wife Elizabeth B., is the author of Boots and Saddles (New York, 1886), and Tenting on the Plains, or Life with General Custer in Dakota (1888).

New Americanized Encyclopædia Britannica
(Twentieth Century Edition),
1907.

MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE A. CUSTER, colorful Civil War leaders and Indian fighter, died with most of his command at the Battle of Little Big Horn, June 25, 1876. The base of his marker, originally topped with a bronze statue, stood adjacent the Headquarters Building. Mrs. Custer took exception to the statue and had it removed. Subsequently, the pedestal with the addition of an obelisk became the grave marker for this legendary figure.

A Walking Tour of the
West Point Cemetery
Pamphlet distributed at the
cemetery, August 2005

Photograph by Chuck Merkel