George Armstrong Custer Biography

(United States Army Officer and Cavalry Commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars)

Birthday: December 5, 1839 (Sagittarius)

Born In: New Rumley, Ohio, United States

George Armstrong Custer was a ‘US Army’ officer who fought during the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars. He was born into a family of farmers in Ohio and was raised in Michigan and Ohio. After finishing school, he joined the ‘United States Military Academy.’ He developed a huge fan base and a strong reputation as a military commander during the Civil War. Since the First Battle of Bull Run, George worked under many different commanders and learned the tactics of war, which helped him when he had his own cavalry. He became famous for destroying his enemies during the battles of Gettysburg and Culpeper Court House. In 1864, he was made a major general. He was then in his mid-20s. Despite all the battles that he fought during his lifetime, he is best known for the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where he died fighting gallantly. He attacked the Native Americans in what was already known as a suicide mission and lost his life. The US government has since honored him by naming a number of counties and municipalities after him.

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 36


Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth Bacon Custer (m. 1864–1876)

father: Emanuel Henry Custer

mother: Maria Ward Kirkpatrick

siblings: Boston Custer, David Kirkpatrick, James Custer, John Kirkpatrick, Lydia Ann Reed, Margaret Custer, Nevin Custer, Samuel Custer, Thomas Custer

Born Country: United States

Military Leaders American Men

Died on: June 25, 1876

place of death: Montana, United States

U.S. State: Ohio

Cause of Death: Killed In Action

Ancestry: British American, German American

Founder/Co-Founder: 7th Cavalry Regiment

More Facts

education: United States Military Academy

  • 1

    What was the outcome of the Battle of the Little Bighorn for George Armstrong Custer?

    The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand, resulted in the defeat and death of George Armstrong Custer and his troops by a coalition of Native American tribes led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
  • 2

    What role did George Armstrong Custer play in the American Civil War?

    During the American Civil War, George Armstrong Custer served as a Union cavalry officer and rose to prominence for his daring leadership and bravery in battles such as Gettysburg and Appomattox.
  • 3

    How did George Armstrong Custer's military career impact Native American tribes?

    George Armstrong Custer's military campaigns against Native American tribes, particularly his actions in the Black Hills and the Battle of the Washita River, contributed to the displacement and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples in the American West.
  • 4

    What were the implications of George Armstrong Custer's actions at the Washita River massacre?

    The Washita River massacre, where Custer's troops attacked a Cheyenne village led by Chief Black Kettle, resulted in the deaths of many Native Americans, including women and children, and intensified tensions between settlers and Indigenous peoples.
  • 5

    How is George Armstrong Custer remembered in popular culture?

    George Armstrong Custer is often portrayed in popular culture as a controversial figure, with depictions ranging from a heroic military leader to a reckless and egotistical commander, particularly in relation to his role in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Childhood & Early Life
George Armstrong Custer was born on December 5, 1839, in New Rumley, Ohio, into a middle-class family. His father, Emanuel Henry Custer, was a farmer and a blacksmith. His mother, Marie Ward Kirkpatrick, was a homemaker. George was the eldest child in the family and had four younger siblings. He also had three half-siblings from his father’s previous marriage.
George was raised as a strong democrat. All the other children in the family, too, were raised to be tough humans. Much of George’s remarkable courage was due to his father, who had been strict with him ever since he was a little kid.
One of George’s half-sisters was married to a wealthy man in Michigan. George spent most of his school years at his sister’s house in Michigan. He attended ‘McNeely Normal School.’ George did a number of odd jobs, such as carrying coal, to earn enough money to pay for his education.
As soon as he finished high school, George became a teacher. Following this, he thought of entering the ‘United States Military Academy.’ Being a teacher who taught at a grammar school, he lacked the qualification that was necessary to enter the military academy.
He met a congressman who made sure he got enrolled into the academy. George entered the military academy in 1857, but the duration of the course was shortened to four years once the ‘Civil War’ broke out in 1861. He was the last on the graduates’ list.
Many of his fellow students later claimed that George was the last person they thought could graduate from the academy. He was lazy, disinterested, and undisciplined. He also came close to getting expelled a number of times. However, as many of the students from the academy had already dropped out, the government needed trained men on the battlefields. Hence, George was allowed to graduate.
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Military Career
In July 1861, George witnessed war for the first time during the famous Battle of Bull Run, where he was stationed as a second lieutenant. His job was to carry messages from one senior officer to another. He displayed immense courage and presence of mind, which was appreciated by Major General George B McClellan, a commander of the ‘Union Army.’
George was appointed to work closely with a number of senior officers and developed contacts with many commanders. This led to his promotion. He became a brigadier general of US volunteers at the tender age of 23. He was to lead the ‘Michigan Cavalry Brigade,’ which included four regiments from his home state of Michigan.
Over the next few years, he proved his worth as a highly efficient military commander and earned for himself the nickname “Boy General,” owing to his young age. He became known for leading his cavalries in the iconic battles of Gettysburg and Yellow Tavern. Media houses such as the ‘New York Tribune’ published stories praising his antics on the battleground and claimed that he would later be known as a “first class hero.”
By the time the ‘Civil War’ ended, he was given the highly prestigious rank of major general. His cavalries played a decisive role in the capture of ‘Confederate Army’ general Robert E Lee in 1865, which was one of the major events that marked the end of the Civil War.
Several honors were bestowed upon him. He was gifted the table on which the peace agreement was signed. A letter praising George was sent to his wife, by General Philip Sheridan. According to General Sheridan, George had played a decisive role in bringing the war to an end.
Soon after the war was over, George thought of leaving the army and decided to set up his own business. He also thought of venturing into politics. During this time, the western front was facing trouble due to Indians who were executing attacks on the American army.
The ‘7th Cavalry Regiment’ was raised to tackle the Native American forces in the west. George was made the lieutenant colonel and was to lead the troops in the war. He arrived in Kansas in late 1866. By the spring of 1867, he had already started executing attacks on the Indians. The Sioux and the Cheyenne clans were the biggest rivals of the American forces, and he led several attacks on these two tribes.
His cavalries faced a brutal massacre in the hands of his enemies. This had bad consequences, as several soldiers claimed that George had deserted his army in the face of defeat. He was also brought under the scanner for visiting his wife in the middle of the war. He also faced a court martial. However, he was back by the end of 1868, when Phil Sheridan himself advocated for him and claimed that the army needed him.
Over the next few years, George led many attacks on the Indians and fought gallantly. Several media publications published his stories of war. He was known to have narrowly dodged several lethal attacks in the battles. Thus, the term “Custer’s Luck” was coined.
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However, his luck ran out in 1876, during the infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn. The US government had ordered an attack on the Cheyenne and the Lakota tribes in June. The plan was that three American cavalries would attack and crush the tribes at the same time, from three sides. However, George misread the message and attacked the tribes faster. In the absence proper backup, his cavalry faced a heavy loss.
On June 25, George ordered a vicious attack on a big Indian village with only 210 men, which was more or less a suicide mission. The leader of the Indian tribe was known as “Sitting Bull” and was a feared warrior. The American government had already wronged him by not accepting his peace treaty at Bighorn. George’s men were attacked, surrounded, and killed. George and two of his brothers were killed in the attack.
Personal Life
George was married to Elizabeth Bacon and stayed committed to her throughout his life. They were deeply committed to each other and wrote long passionate letters to each other whenever George was away fighting battles.
He was known to have a flair for dramatics. He was known to be very careful about his appearance and used perfume oil to maintain his blonde hair and his glorious moustache.
He was 36 years old at the time of his death. Following his death, his wife, Elizabeth, spent her life writing about his heroics and about their time together.
Several counties in the six American states of Oklahoma, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana have been named after him. Several municipalities have also been named in his honor.
Facts About George Armstrong Custer
George Armstrong Custer was known for his flamboyant style, often wearing elaborate uniforms and sporting long, flowing golden locks.
Custer was an animal lover and had a pet dog named Rin Tin Tin, who accompanied him on many military campaigns.
Custer was a skilled writer and journalist, contributing articles to various publications throughout his military career.
Custer had a keen interest in the arts and enjoyed painting and sketching in his free time, showcasing a creative side beyond his military prowess.

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