George Custer
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George Armstrong Custer (1839 - 1876)

Gen. George Armstrong Custer
Born in New Rumley, Harrison, Ohio, USAmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 9 Feb 1864 in Monroe, Monroe, Michigan, United Statesmap
[children unknown]
Died in Crow Agency, Montana, USAmap
Profile last modified | Created 24 Jul 2011 | Last significant change: 29 May 2021
21:18: Patricia (Long) Kent proposed a merge of Custer-1232 and Custer-109. [Thank Patricia for this]
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Notables Project
George Custer is Notable.
George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars.


  • Born Dec. 5, 1839 in New Rumly, Harrison Co., Ohio to Emmanuel Henry Custer and Maria (Ward) Kirkpatrick Custer .
  • Entering the US Military Academy at West Point on 1 July 1857, George Armstrong Custer graduated in 1861. At the academy he was given two nicknames - Cinnamon and Curly, although the family nickname was Autie. The normal 5-year course of study was cut to 4 years because of the outbreak of the US Civil War. Custer graduated last in his class and had 726 demerits, one of the worst records in the history of the Academy and this in despite of the truncated course of study. Other classmen included Felix Huston Robertson, Guy Vernor Henry, and Thomas L. "Tex" Rosser.[1]
  • Commissioned as a 2d Lieutenant upon graduation, Custer first saw action at the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. Through the course of the war, he rose in rank to brevet (temporary) major general. Due to his quick rise in rank, he was referred to as the "boy general."
  • After Appomattox, the best hope for an ambitious officer was the Indian Wars in the West. And that is where Custer went, as a cavalry Lt. Colonel, after a year of serving as an officer in the post-war Reconstruction in Texas, and briefly considering options in the private sector.
  • In Jul 1866, he was appointed Lt. Colonel of the newly-created, Kansas-based 7th Cavalry. Never lacking for brashness, he was suspended for going AWOL to see his wife.
  • Later, in 1873, he provided military escort for a railroad survey in the Black Hills, through territory reserved to the Lakota in 1851 & 1868 treaties. The following year, he led an expedition, returning to the Black Hills. He announced the discovery of gold, boom towns like Deadwood sprung up, and the treaties were broken. And so the seeds of bitterness were sown among the tribes of the Northern Plains against the golden-haired General. Due to his hair color, he was referred to by the Indians as "yellow hair" which was in addition to being known as "son of the morning star." The Indian nicknames are actually nice when compared to the nicknames given him by his own troops - Iron Butt, Hard Ass, and Ringlets.
  • At the Little Bighorn, Custer's command was part of a larger military campaign to subdue the Indians who were massing. The Indian village was composed of seven bands of Lakotas, a few Arapaho, and a number of Cheyenne. Custer's orders were to find the Indian village and inform Generals Terry and Gibbon of the location. What has never been made clear is whether he was ordered not to attack the camp but wait for the arrival of the main force or if he could use his own judgement and order an early attack. Custer did decide to attack without the main force but then made the tactical mistake of splinting his 7th Cavalry into smaller units. As a result, two battalions of three companies each and the pack train with one company were isolated from Custer's five companies who were slain at the Last Stand. The myth that Custer's entire command was wiped out still exists today. In truth, the five companies, consisting of about 215 troops out of the combined 7th Cavalry force of about 625, at the Last Stand were slain. An Army Court of Inquiry was later convened to hear the survivors testimony of the battle. No one was ever charged for misconduct. At least 18 troopers were awarded the Medal of Honor. The Custer family lost a number of family members in the battle. In addition to Custer, those who died were Custer's brothers Tom and Boston, brother-in-law Lt. James Calhoun and Custer's nephew Harry "Autie" Reed. For action during the Civil War, Tom Custer had been awarded the Medal of Honor twice. Probably, the most defining book on the battle is The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick, published by Viking Penguin in 2010.
  • Burial: US Military Academy, West Point, Orange County, New York, USA (re-interred in 1877 from Montana)


Christening: Taken from internet Possible Connection:

Buried Born in New Rumley, Harrison County, Ohio.

Baptism: December 5 1839.

Religious Confirmation: Died: 1876 at Little Big Horn.

Occupation: George Miller Jr's. record showed he died in.

1871 in little Big Horn.


  1. 1860 United States Federal Census for Cornwall, Orange, New York. At West Point.

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Comments: 7

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Custer-1232 and Custer-109 appear to represent the same person because: Same name, birth date and Bio
posted by Patricia (Long) Kent
For your consideration, please see these profiles.

Battle of the Little Bighorn

As told to Col. Tim [McCoy-8258] in 1920.

Arapahoe warrior Water Man [Arapaho-2], first hand account. "When I reached the top of the hill I saw Custer. He was dressed in buckskin, coat and pants, and was on his hands and knees. He had been shot through the side and there was blood coming from his mouth."

Arapahoe warrior Left Hand [Arapaho-3], first hand account."

Col. Tim [McCoy-8258] interview for National Heritage in 1977:

"Then, I was the first one to dig out the fact that there were five Arapahoes in that fight. I dug that out one night sitting in a powwow with a bunch of Arapaho Indians down along the Little Wind River. They started telling me that Old Water Man was in that fight. I sort of scoffed at it because every Indian and his brother was in that fight. Practically all of them killed Custer. When they described Custer and described the fight, you could tell they didn’t know what they were talking about. So I was a little bit dubious about it, but they said Water Man and Left Hand, who were still alive, were both in that fight. So I took a stick of sagebrush and cleared a space on the ground and I drew the Bighorn River and the Little Horn and I started asking questions of Water Man. Where was the village? Where did Custer come from? And so on and so on … and by God he knew. So I arranged then to get him in to get his story rather than having to tell it myself. I arranged to have him come into the town of Riverton, Wyoming, and one night I got a hold of Left Hand. I didn’t get them together, you see. I brought Water Man in one night and Left Hand another night, and in order that no one would have to take my word for it, I got an interpreter and court stenographer and I did one of these question/answer things that we’re doing here and I got a transcript of this whole blasted thing. So I got it from Water Man one night and Left Hand the next night. And I could tell they knew what they were talking about."

Too busy fighting?

"Ha! Too busy trying to make their damn rifles work."

What do you mean?

"Toward the end of the Civil War we had gotten a new rifle, the first of the repeating rifles for the Army. It was called the Spencer and it had a tubular magazine that you pushed into the butt. It fired seven shots and that was the first repeating rifle or carbine. The Cavalry was armed with it first. The Indians used to say about it: “That gun, you load it on Saturday, it shoots all week.” You see, it held seven shots. It was used very successfully by Custer’s division. They were armed with it at Appomattox, for instance, so that the fire power for that one outfit was as much as Lee had in his whole army. But after the war, when somebody wanted to adopt that carbine for the Cavalry, these old fuddy-duddies in Washington, the old-timers in the War Department, said: No, no, these fellows don’t know how to handle arms well enough and they’d shoot away too much ammunition. So they went back to the old trap-door Springfield rifle and carbine. It was single shot. You had to throw open the trap door and it was supposed to eject the shell. Well, the shells that they used in those Civil War guns, both the rifle and the carbine, were copper, and copper is fairly soft. It would expand in the chamber of the gun, and when the shell was ejected the ejector would tear the rim off the cartridge, and the fellows at the Custer fight, as the Indians told me, had their knives out trying to pry these shells out of their guns."

So that they could reload?

"Right. Old Left Hand told me that he came up the hill and this soldier was wounded and he handed him his gun, wanted to surrender to him. They didn’t understand. You don’t surrender to an Indian. And Left Hand said he took the gun, but he couldn’t use it because the shell jammed in the chamber."

  • Darryl Ponicsan, High Eagle - The Many Lives of Colonel Tim McCoy, [American Heritage, American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., Volume XXVIII, Number 4, June 1977], pages 52-62.


Richard J, Amherst Co., Virginia, The Mother of Presidents

In a cemetery in Waverly Tennesse, a Gravestone with the name Sarah Custer 1843-1925 was discovered. The thought is that she is one of George Custer's half-siblings. Is there a way to get the names of Gen. Custer's half-siblings?
posted by Russell Slayden
There is an excellent biography written more about George Armstrong Custer, the man and less about his death at Little Bighorn. It is written by T.J. Stiles and is called "Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America". Stiles won the Pulitzer Prize for writing this book and by many is said to be the truest account of Custer's actual life. George Armstrong Custer was a paradox. He accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, yet his destiny was to self destruct. The book is an excellent read if you want to know more of who he was during his life, and why he was that way.
posted by Anonymous Martindale
Nicely done!
posted by Scott Lee
George Custer is notable.
Join: Notables Project
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posted by Doug Lockwood
Custer had two younger brothers, Thomas Custer and Boston Custer, who both died with him at the Little Bighorn. His other full siblings were the family's youngest child, Margaret Custer, and the weak and unhealthy Nevin Custer. Custer also had several older half-siblings.

posted by Ralph Rogers

Pending merges › George Armstrong Custer (1839-)