George Armstrong Custer

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Brevet Major General of Volunteers

American Civil War

Indian Wars

George Armstrong Custer (December 5, 1839 – June 25, 1876) was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. Today he is most remembered for a disastrous military engagement known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Raised in Michigan and Ohio, Custer was admitted to West Point in 1858, where he graduated last in his class. However, with the outbreak of the Civil War, all potential officers were needed, and Custer was called to serve with the Union Army.

Custer acquired a solid reputation during the Civil War. He fought in the first major engagement, the First Battle of Bull Run. His association with several important officers helped his career, as did his performance as an aggressive commander. Before war's end, Custer was promoted to the temporary rank (brevet) of major general. (At war's end, this was reduced to his permanent rank of captain). At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, in which he and his troops played a decisive role, Custer was on hand at General Robert E. Lee's surrender.

After the Civil War, Custer was dispatched to the West to fight in the Indian Wars. The overwhelming defeat in his final battle overshadowed his achievements in the Civil War. Custer was defeated and killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, fighting against a coalition of Native American tribes in a battle that has come to be popularly known in American history as "Custer's Last Stand".


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