BORN: 1839 in Harrison County, OH.
DIED: 1876 in Little Big Horn.
CAMPAIGN: First Bull Run, virtually every important battle of the Army of the Potomac, Shenandoah Valley, Yellow Tavern, Third Winchester, Fisher's Hill and Five Forks.
(Youngest General in the Union Army)
George Armstrong Custer was born on December 5, 1839, in Harrison County, Ohio. Three days after his 1861 graduation from West Point, he took part in the First Battle of Bull Run. Custer fought in almost every important battle of the Army of the Potomac from Bull Run to Appomattox. While he made many enemies by his contempt for army regulations and sometimes reckless actions, he was also admired for his courage and boldness in cavalry operations. Custer was easily recognized by his blond curly hair, red necktie and lavish, self-designed uniform. Inspiring great devotion in the troops he led, he had 11 horses shot under him, but was himself wounded only once. Custer was one of the first Union officers to observe combat from a balloon. In 1863, he led a heroic charge during the Battle of Aldie, Virginia, after which he was appointed a brigadier general by June 29. Twenty-three years old at the time, he was the youngest general in the Union army. After taking command of the 2nd Brigade of the 3d Cavalry Division, which he nicknamed the "Wolverines," he led the troops to victory at Gettysburg. In 1864, he was given command of the 3d Cavalry, and was brevetted for gallantry at Gettysburg, Yellow Tavern, Third Winchester, Fisher's Hill and Five Forks. On April 15, 1865, he was appointed a major general of volunteers. By the end of the Civil War, Custer was a national hero. Although he faced a 1867 court-martial conviction for unauthorized absence from his command in Fort Wallace, in Kansas; Custer was reinstated in 1868. He went on to a career as a fighter of Native Americans, in which capacity he became best known. On June 25, 1876, he and his troops were killed by a force of Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn, an incident known as "Custer's Last Stand." Custer's younger brother, Thomas Custer, the only soldier to win two Congressional Medals of Honor during the Civil War, also died at Little Big Horn. George Custer was buried with honors at West Point.