Portrait of Thomas Custer

On June 25, 1876, a combined force of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians killed Thomas Custer during the Battle of the Little Big Horn along with his older brother General George A. Custer, his younger brother, Boston Custer (a civilian guide), and his brother-in-law, First Lieutenant James Calhoun. [Wikimedia Commons]

Thomas Ward Custer - Facts

March 15, 1845 - June 25, 1876

Key facts about Thomas Ward Custer who was twice awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Thomas Ward Custer

Birth Date:

  • March 15, 1845

Birth Location:

  • New Rumley, Ohio

Parents:

  • Emanuel Henry and Maria (Ward) Custer

Education:

  • Undetermined

Occupation:

  • Soldier
  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Captain (USA)

Spouse:

  • None

Place of Death:

  • Big Horn County, Montana

Date of Death:

  • June 25, 1876

Place of Burial:

  • Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Kansas

Significance:

  • Thomas Ward Custer was the third of four sons of Emanuel Henry and Maria (Ward) Custer to survive childhood.
  • Thomas Ward Custer’s oldest brother was George Armstrong Custer, a graduate of the United States Military Academy and noted officer in the U.S. Army during and after the Civil War.
  • Thomas Ward Custer’s father was a farmer and blacksmith.
  • On September 2, 1861, sixteen-year-old Thomas Custer lied about his age and enlisted in the 21st Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
  • On September 19, 1861, Thomas Custer was mustered into the Union Volunteer Army at Camp Vance in Findlay, Ohio as a private in Company H.
  • From 1861 to 1863, Thomas Custer and his unit campaigned in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama as part of the Army of the Ohio.
  • Thomas Custer took part in the Battle of Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee (December 31, 1862 – January 2, 1863).
  • Thomas Custer served on the staff of division commander Major General James S. Negley during the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863).
  • Thomas Custer served briefly on the staff of Major General U.S. Grant during the Chattanooga Campaign (October – November 1863).
  • Thomas Custer saw action at the Battle of Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863).
  • Thomas Custer reenlisted in the army and was promoted to the rank of corporal.
  • Thomas Custer took part in the Atlanta Campaign (May 7 – September 2, 1864).
  • During the Atlanta Campaign, Thomas Custer took part in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (June 27, 1864), and the Battle of Jonesborough (August 31-September 1, 1864).
  • Thomas Custer took part in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign (September 18 – December 27, 1864).
  • In late October 1864, Colonel James H. Kidd offered Thomas Custer a commission as a second lieutenant in the Michigan 6th Cavalry, (at the behest of Kidd’s former brigade commander, and Thomas Custer’s older brother, General George Armstrong Custer).
  • Thomas Custer mustered out of the 21st Ohio on October 23, 1864.
  • Thomas Custer joined the Michigan 6th Cavalry on November 8, 1864, and promptly joined the staff of his brother, Brigadier General George A. Custer, who was commanding the 3rd Division of the Cavalry Corps of Major General Philip Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah.
  • Thomas Custer was brevetted to first lieutenant and cited for bravery during the Battle of Waynesboro (March 2, 1865).
  • Thomas Custer was brevetted to captain for bravery during the Battle of Dinwiddie Court House (March 31, 1865).
  • Thomas Custer was brevetted to major for bravery during the Battle of Five Forks (April 1, 1865).
  • Thomas Custer personally captured the battle flag of the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry while leading a charge during the Battle of Namozine Church (April 3, 1865).
  • Thomas Custer personally captured the battle flag of the 2nd Virginia Reserve Battalion while leading a charge of the Second Brigade during the Battle of Sailor’s Creek (April 6, 1865).
  • On April 24, 1865, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton presented Thomas Custer with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his gallantry at Namozine Church.
  • On May 22, 1865, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton presented Thomas Custer with a second Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Sailor’s Creek.
  • Thomas Custer was the first U.S. serviceman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor twice.
  • Thomas Custer remains one of only twenty two-time recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
  • Thomas Custer served in the South during Reconstruction.
  • Thomas Custer mustered out of the Volunteer Army at Detroit on December 31, 1865.
  • Thomas Custer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the regular army and assigned to the 1st U.S. Infantry in February 1866.
  • Thomas Custer was promoted to first lieutenant and transferred to the 7th Cavalry in July 1866.
  • Thomas Custer was promoted to captain on December 2, 1875.
  • On June 25, 1876, a combined force of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians killed Thomas Custer during the Battle of the Little Big Horn in south-central Montana.
  • Thomas Custer died on the same battlefield with his older brother General George A. Custer, his younger brother, Boston Custer (a civilian guide), and his brother-in-law, First Lieutenant James Calhoun.
  • Thomas Custer’s badly mutilated body was initially buried on the site of Battle of the Little Big Horn.
  • In July 1877, army personnel exhumed Thomas Custer’s remains and reinterred them at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in Kansas on August 3, 1877.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Thomas Ward Custer - Facts
  • Coverage March 15, 1845 - June 25, 1876
  • Author
  • Keywords Thomas Ward Custer
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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