George Custer biography
George Custer was born on December 5, 1839, in New Rumley, Ohio. He served in the Civil War with General George B. McClellan. He became a brigadier general, and his pursuit of General Robert E. Lee helped to bring an end to the Civil War. In September 1868 he joined the 7th Cavalry in Kansas. On June 25, 1876, he led 210 men into battle at Little Bighorn against Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. Custer and all of his men were killed in the battle.
An American Army general who famously lost his life at the hands of Native American warriors at the Battle of Little Bighorn, George Armstrong Custer was born December 5, 1839, in New Rumley, Ohio.
A good part of his childhood was spent in Monroe, Michigan, where he lived with his half-sister. Despite his poor origins, a determined Custer was convinced he could make a better life for himself. After he graduated from high school he set his sights on West Point. While he lacked the qualifications many of the other candidates had, his confidence won over his local congressman, and with his support Custer enrolled in the school in 1857.
But West Point was not a perfect fit. Despite his longing to climb to a higher rank in life, an element of rebellion ran through the young officer. He buckled under authority, and his infractions led him to famously finish last in his last class upon graduating in June 1861.
Then, just a few days after graduating, he failed as officer of the guard to prevent a fight between two cadets. He was nearly court-martialed as a result of it, but was saved due to the outbreak of the Civil War and the desperate need for officers.
In the bloody war that divided his nation, Custer excelled. He seemed to demonstrate a streak of good fortune at avoiding injury, a gift that he came to call "Custer's luck."
His brilliance at directing cavalry actions at the Battle of Bull Run, his first battle, earned him recognition. The press gushed over the young general who wore bright red neckties onto the battlefield. The New York Tribune wrote: "Future writers of fiction will find in Brigadier General Custer most of the qualities which go to make up a first-class hero."
He was known as "The Boy General," and his daring and bravery led him to stay in the thick of the fight until the war concluded. Its end, too, was owed in part to Custer, whose cavalry units were crucial in standing down Confederate General Robert E. Lee and forcing him to surrender at Appomattox, on April 9, 1865.
As a reward for his heroism, Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan, a huge Custer supporter, gave the young military hero the table used to sign the war's peace terms. With it he wrote a note to Custer's wife, Libbie, in praise of her husband. "Permit me to say, Madam," he wrote, "that there is scarcely an individual in our service who has contributed more to bring about this desirable result than your gallant husband."
Battle At Little Bighorn
In the years following the Civil War, Custer continued to distinguish himself in the eyes of the military and public with his battles against Native Americans.
As the still young country looked to settle the West, it needed to defeat the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians that still dominated parts of the frontier.
In 1876 the United States ordered an attack on the Lakota that involved three separate forces, one of which was led by Custer. But Custer and his men advanced more quickly than the other two units, and in a fatal display of brazen confidence, the general ordered his 210 men to attack a large Indian village on June 25.
On the other side of the attack was Sitting Bull, the revered Lakota chief who had originally wanted peace at Little Bighorn. But Custer was determined to fight. The general's biggest mistake came in ordering his men to divide into three units. Against the onrush of thousands of Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors, Custer and his men were surrounded and killed.
The defeat was a stinging embarrassment to the U.S. government, which redoubled its efforts and quickly and cruelly defeated the Lakota.
For his role, Custer became the stuff of legend, though not the kind he'd wished for. During her final years, Custer's wife wrote accounts of her husband's life that cast him in a heroic light. But no story could overcome the debacle that became known as Custer's Last Stand.