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GEORGE A CUSTER | Indian Fighter | Civil War Cavalry

Updated on November 22, 2012

George A. Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn

George Armstrong Custer (December 5, 1839 - June 25, 1876) was a United States Army cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. Promoted at an early age to a temporary war-time rank of Major General, and later made a permanent Lt. Colonel, he was a flamboyant and aggressive commander during numerous Civil War battles, known for his personal bravery in leading charges against opposing cavalry. He led the Michigan Brigade whom he called the "Wolverines" during the Civil War. He was defeated and killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, against a coalition of Native American tribes comprised almost exclusively of Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe warriors, and led by the Sioux chiefs Crazy Horse and Gall and by the Hunkpapa seer and medicine man, Sitting Bull. This confrontation has come to be popularly known and enshrined in American history as Custer's Last Stand.

Custer's Last Stand

George Armstrong Custer early life

Custer was born in New Rumley, Ohio, to Emanuel Henry Custer (1806-1892), a farmer and blacksmith, and Marie Ward Kirkpatrick (1807-1882). [1] Throughout his life Custer was known by a variety of nicknames. He was called alternately Autie (his early attempt to pronounce his middle name), Armstrong, Fanny, or Curley. When he went west, the Plains Indians called him Yellow Hair and Son of the Morning Star. His brothers Thomas Custer and Boston Custer died with him at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, as did his brother-in-law and nephew. His other full siblings were Nevin Custer and Margaret Custer, plus he had several older half siblings.

The Custer family had emigrated to America in the late 17th century from Westphalia, Germany. Their surname originally was "Küster". George Armstrong Custer was a great great grandson of Arnold Küster from Kaldenkirchen, Duchy of Jülich (today North Rhine-Westphalia state), who settled in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Custer's mother's maiden name was Marie Ward. At the age of 16, she married Israel Kirkpatrick, who died in 1835. She married Emanuel Henry Custer in 1836. Marie's grandparents, George Ward (1724-1811) and Mary Ward (nee Grier) (1733-1811), were from County Durham, England. Their son James Grier Ward (1765-1824) was born in Dauphin, Pennsylvania and married Catherine Rogers (1776-1829), and their daughter, Marie Ward, was Custer's mother. Catherine Rogers was a daughter of Thomas Rogers and Sarah Armstrong, which is the source of Custer's middle name.

George Custer's Seventh Cavalry - George A. Custer

General George Armstrong Custer

GA Custer

Family life

The Custer family had emigrated to America in the late 17th century from Westphalia, Germany. Their surname originally was "Küster". George Armstrong Custer was a great great grandson of Arnold Küster from Kaldenkirchen, Duchy of Jülich (today North Rhine-Westphalia state), who settled in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Custer's mother's maiden name was Marie Ward. At the age of 16, she married Israel Kirkpatrick, who died in 1835. She married Emanuel Henry Custer in 1836. Marie's grandparents, George Ward (1724-1811) and Mary Ward (nee Grier) (1733-1811), were from County Durham, England. Their son James Grier Ward (1765-1824) was born in Dauphin, Pennsylvania and married Catherine Rogers (1776-1829), and their daughter, Marie Ward, was Custer's mother. Catherine Rogers was a daughter of Thomas Rogers and Sarah Armstrong, which is the source of Custer's middle name.

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What Do You Think of George Armstrong Custer? - George Armstrong Custer

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      One of my favorite things to read about. Do you know "A Road We Do Not Know" by Chiviatone? Great book.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @milky-way-35977: milky-way-35977, thanks for the comment, not sure I completely understand, but thanks for dropping by.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @OhMe: He was an interesting person and had quite a life. I think he would have gone far had he lived.

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      milky-way-35977 5 years ago

      Good relative place

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This was so interesting. I had never read about his early years.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @Bill Armstrong: billybraveheart, that is very interesting. I would find out for sure if it were me. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

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      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      He may actually be a distant relative;)

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @delia-delia: Thanks for dropping by, d-artist! Mr. Custer was a complex person. And of good German stock.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @AslanBooks: AslanBooks, sorry to be responding so late. Thanks for leaving a comment and including this lens on one of yours.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @parrow1978: Thanks, parrow1978, your avatar looks strangely familiar, General Sherman.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @Michey LM: Michey, sorry to take so long to respond. Thanks for dropping by.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      Interesting and informative lens...I never knew he also was of German Heritage.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @fugeecat lm: Yes, he was born there, but he was always a Michigan Wolverine! Thanks for dropping by.

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      Michey LM 6 years ago

      Great info, and lens, I feature on my Civil War part 2

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @ideadesigns: ideadesigns, thanks for leaving a comment.

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @reasonablerobby: reasonablerobinson, thanks for dropping by. I checked some of your lenses about Border Reiver clans, very interesting.

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      reasonablerobby 5 years ago

      The Armstrong part of his name associates him the border region of England and Scotland which makes him linked to Border Reiver clans of which my family is one.

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      ideadesigns 5 years ago

      Nice work on George Custer.

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      fugeecat lm 5 years ago

      I never realized Custer was from Ohio.

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      parrow1978 8 years ago

      Great work man.

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      AslanBooks 8 years ago

      Nice historical lens. 5*'s and favorited. I've featured your lens on my A Brief Introduction to Buffalo Bill lens.