George Armstrong Custer - Cavalry

Lieutenant 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.) See Little Big Horn page of Frank's Realm.

-copyright 2005 by Beth Gibson