Portrait of George A. Custer

George Custer led his cavalry unit in a fearless charge that killed Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 11, 1864. [Wikimedia Commons]

George Armstrong Custer - Facts

December 5, 1839 - June 25, 1876

Key facts about General George Armstrong Custer who was a flamboyant and widely renowned American army officer during and after the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • George Armstrong Custer

Birth Date:

  • December 5, 1839

Birth Location:

  • New Rumley, Ohio

Parents:

  • Emanuel Henry Custer and Marie Ward (Kirkpatrick) Custer

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1861)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Lieutenant Colonal (USA)
  • Major General (USVA)

Spouse:

  • Elizabeth Clift Benton (1864)

Nickname(s):

  • Boy General
  • Autie
  • Yellow Hair

Place of Death:

  • Bighorn County, Montana

Date of Death:

  • June 25, 1876

Place of Burial:

  • West Point Cemetery, Highlands, New York

Significance:

  • George Custer’s father was a farmer and blacksmith.
  • As youngster, George Custer lived with his half-sister in Monroe, Michigan.
  • After graduating from McNeely Normal School, in Hopedale, Ohio, George Custer taught school in Cadiz, Ohio.
  • George Custer received an appointment to the United States Military Academy in 1857 and entered the Academy in 1858.
  • George Custer graduated last in his class of 34 cadets from the United States Military Academy on June 24, 1861.
  • George Custer’s class at the United States Military Academy graduated a year early because the Union needed officers for the Civil War.
  • George Custer was commissioned as a second lieutenant of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry on June 24, 1861.
  • Major General George B. McClellan assigned George Custer as his aide-de-camp, promoting him to the rank of captain on June 5, 1862.
  • George Custer was returned to cavalry duty as a first lieutenant when Major General George B. McClellan was relieved of his command of the Army of the Potomac after the Peninsula Campaign.
  • Major General Alfred Pleasonton promoted George Custer from captain to brigadier general of volunteers on June 29, 1863, three days prior to the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • At age 23, George Custer was one of the younger generals in the Union army.
  • George Custer was brevetted as a major in the regular army for his service at Gettysburg, on July 3, 1863.
  • George Custer married Elizabeth Clift Benton on February 9, 1864.
  • George Custer led his cavalry unit in a fearless charge that killed Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 11, 1864.
  • George Custer suffered his most embarrassing defeat of the Civil War when Confederate raiders captured his personal baggage at the Battle of Trevilian Station on June 11 – 12, 1864.
  • George Custer played a major role in the Union victory at the Battle of Opequon (September 19, 1864) during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.
  • Some evidence suggests that George Custer was present when his soldiers executed six Rebel prisoners who refused to reveal information about the location of Confederate raider John Mosby’s headquarters on September 23, 1864.
  • George Custer played a major role in the Union victory at the Battle of Tom’s Brook (October 9, 1864) during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.
  • George Custer played a major role in the Union victory at the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864) during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.
  • George Custer received a brevet promotion to major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865.
  • George Custer was present at Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
  • George Custer received a promotion to major general of volunteers on April 15, 1865.
  • George Custer served in the Military Division of the Gulf from July 17 to November 13, 1865, and was chief of cavalry of the Department of Texas until he was mustered out of the volunteer service on February 1, 1866.
  • George Custer was placed on frontier duty at Fort Riley, Kansas, on October 16, 1866.
  • George Custer was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 7th Cavalry on July 28, 1866.
  • In 1867, George Custer was court-martialed and suspended from duty one year for paying an unauthorized visit to his wife.
  • George Custer’s cavalry won the Battle of Washita River against Black Kettle and the Cheyenne on November 27, 1868.
  • George Custer was killed along with 265 of the men in his command during the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana on June 25, 1876.
  • During the Civil War, George Custer commanded troops at the Battles of Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Antietam, and in the Peninsular, Shenandoah Valley, Overland, and Appomattox Campaigns.
  • George Custer was the first Union officer to make observations in combat in a balloon.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title George Armstrong Custer - Facts
  • Coverage December 5, 1839 - June 25, 1876
  • Author
  • Keywords george armstrong custer
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 1, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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