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George Armstrong Custer

George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars.


What do you know about George Armstrong Custer?

Try this Old West Legends Quick Quiz.

1) George Armstrong Custer was born in New Rumley, Ohio, on December 5, 1839, to Emanuel Henry Custer (1806–1892), a farmer and blacksmith, and Marie Ward Kirkpatrick (1807–1882). Throughout his life Custer was known by a variety of nicknames.
What is NOT a nickname?

  • "Autie"
  • “Armstrong”
  • “Georgie Boy”
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2) Before entering the United States Military Academy, Custer attended the McNeely Normal School, later known as Hopedale Normal College, in Hopedale, Ohio. While attending Hopedale, Custer, together with classmate William Enos Emery, was known to have carried coal to help pay for their room and board. After graduating from McNeely Normal School in 1856, Custer taught school in Cadiz, Ohio.

  • True or False?

3) Custer graduated as the first of 34 cadets in the Class of June 1861 from the United States Military Academy, just after the start of the Civil War. Custer's West Point class (originally the Class of 1862) was graduated a year early to meet the Army's pressing need for trained officers.

  • True or False?

4) After graduation from West Point, Custer was commissioned a second lieutenant in the and immediately joined his regiment at the First Battle of Bull Run.
What was the regiment he first joined?

  • 2nd U.S. Cavalry
  • 4th U.S. Cavalry
  • 6th U.S. Cavalry

5) Custer was allowed to lead an attack with four companies of the 4th Michigan Infantry across the Chickahominy River above New Bridge. The attack was successful, resulting in the capture of 50 Confederates seizing the first Confederate battle flag of the war. Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, termed it a "very gallant affair", congratulated Custer personally, and brought him onto his staff as an aide-de-camp.
What was his temporary rank?

  • Captain
  • Major
  • Lt. Col.

6) On June 28, 1863, three days prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, General Pleasonton promoted Custer from captain to brigadier general of volunteers. Despite having no direct command experience, he became one of the youngest generals in the Union Army.
What was his age?

  • 21
  • 23
  • 25

7) Custer established a reputation as an aggressive cavalry brigade commander willing to take personal risks by leading his Michigan Brigade into battle, such as the mounted charges at Hunterstown and East Cavalry Field at the Battle of Gettysburg.
What is NOT a unit of Custer’s Michigan Brigade?

  • 1st Michigan Cavalry
  • 5th Michigan Cavalry
  • 7th U.S. Cavalry

8) Custer's brigade lost 257 men at Gettysburg, the highest loss of any Union cavalry brigade.

  • True or False?

9) Custer married Elizabeth Clift Bacon (1842–1933) (whom he first saw when he was ten years old).
What was the date of their marriage?

  • February 9, 1862
  • February 9, 1864
  • February 9, 1866

10) As part of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps, who was Custer’s commander?

  • Ambrose E. Burnside
  • George Crook
  • Philip Sheridan

11) Before the close of the war, Custer received brevet promotions to brigadier general and major general in the regular army and major general of volunteers (April 15, 1865). As with most wartime promotions, even when issued under the regular army, these senior ranks were only temporary.
What is the date of the promotions to major general?

  • March 13, 1865
  • April 13, 1865
  • May 13, 1865

12) In October, 1865, he moved the division to Austin, when he became Chief of Cavalry for the Department of Texas.
Who did he succeed at Chief of Cavalry?

Macon Allen
Wesley Merritt
Wade Phillips

13) On February 1, 1866, Custer was mustered out of the volunteer service and returned to his permanent rank of captain in the 5th Cavalry.
What was his permanent rank?

  • Captain
  • Major
  • Colonel

14) Custer was appointed lieutenant colonel of the newly created U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment, headquartered at Fort Riley, Kansas. As a result of a plea by his patron General Philip Sheridan, Custer was also appointed brevet major general.

  • True or False?

15) Under Sheridan's orders, Custer took part in establishing Camp Supply in Indian Territory in early November 1868 as a supply base for the winter campaign. Custer led the 7th U.S. Cavalry in an attack on the Cheyenne encampment of Black Kettle on November 27, 1868.
What is the attack known as?

  • Battle of Missouri River
  • Battle of New River
  • Battle of Washita River

16) The 7th Cavalry departed from Fort Lincoln as part of a larger army force planning to round up remaining free Indians.
What is the date they left Fort Lincoln?

  • April 17, 1876
  • May 17, 1876
  • June 17, 1876

17) Custer died on June 25, 1876 at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. His brother Tom and Custer’s remains were buried on the battlefield side by side in a shallow grave, after being covered by pieces of tent canvas and blankets.
On October 10, 1877, were was George Custer reburied?

  • Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
  • United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, NY
  • Woodland Cemetery, Monroe, MI

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