Colonel George Armstrong Custer 1839-1876
George Armstrong Custer
was born on December 5, 1839, the oldest of five children of Emmanuel
and Maria Custer. His siblings were named Nevin, Thomas, Boston, and Margaret.
Thomas and Boston would later die with him at the Little Big Horn.
He graduated from West Point in 1861, last in his class. He joined the
Union Army on the Potomac. He survived the first battle of Bull Run. General
George B. McLelland appointed him as an aide-de-camp. He was praised for
discovering a ford across the Chickahominy River, which allowed McLelland
to make a surprise attack on General Lee. He also served under General
Sheridan, who admired Custer for his courage. He temporarily promoted
him from captain to brigadier general when Custer was only 24. His unit
spent a short time in Texas after the war, where he was accused of brutality
toward Southerners and against his own men, but never tried for it.
In 1866 Custer joined the 7th Cavalry in Kansas, now a lieutenant colonel.
Once again he was accused of cruelty and for shooting deserters. A court
martial was convened but the charges were dismissed. He returned to Fort
Dodge, Kansas in 1868. He spent the next five years fighting skirmishes
with Indians. On November 27, 1868, on the Washita River in the Antelope
Hills of Indian territory, Custer defeated a group of Chennne, Arapahoe,
and Kiowa, though it was later found this group was largely non-combatants.
In 1871, he was assigned policing duties in Kentucky. Then in 1873, Custer
had to go up against the Sioux, who were blocking a railroad track laying
crew on the Yellowstone River.
In 1874, Custer was exploring in the Black Hills area when some of his
men found gold there. This started another gold rush. Unfortunately this
was land that had been permanently deeded to the Sioux. The army was powerless
against the hordes that came to South Dakota. The army tired to get the
Indians to sell back the land for millions of dollars. Some chiefs were
in favor but others said no amount of money was acceptable.
In 1876, General George Crook was sent to take care of the Sioux and their
Northern Cheyenne allies. Reckless Custer and timid Alfred Terry were
his two field commanders. Custer did not follow the trail as directed
by Terry, thus getting him to the field of battle before reinforcements
could arrive. He also underestimated the number of Indians who would be
fighting, at least 3,000. Then he split up his force into three divisions.
The force was destroyed by an overwhelming force, leading to Custer's
death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. His body was found in tact,
with just the single gun shot to the head. This seemed to signify that
he shot himself before he could be killed by the Indians. Indians generally
do not scalp or touch the body of one who has committed suicide.
(Frank's note: This is only one
opinion, many sources say that there was no braver men than Custer and
his 7th, and it is ridiculous idea that he would have shot himself. Sitting
Bull said that he have never seen braver men than Custer's 7th and that
they all did fought bravely till their death at the Little Big Horn.)
Big Horn page of Frank's Realm.
-copyright 2005 by Beth