Some George Armstrong Custer facts:
Aside from President Abraham Lincoln, more books have been written about George Custer than any other Civil War figure.
Custer’s nickname was Autie. The name came about because he could not pronounce Armstrong as a child.
Even as a young boy, Custer was enamored with the military. He happily accompanied his father to local militia days where members practiced drills. Sometimes little Autie was even allowed to participate in the drills.
Prior to attending West Point Military Academy, Custer served a brief stint as a teacher.
Custer got the coveted appointment to West Point even though his family was widely known to be staunch Democrats and the Ohio Congressman who made the appointment was a Republican. It’s believed a constituent recommended Custer in order to keep him away from his daughter.
Custer almost didn’t make it into the Civil War. While at West Point he was always on the verge of expulsion due to demerits, and he graduated last in his class. Upon graduation, he was court-martialed for not breaking up a fight.
Custer started the tradition of standing for the National Anthem while a student at West Point. When the Civil War broke out, he encouraged fellow students sympathetic to the Union to stand during the National Anthem as a show of unity.
Although his friend Thomas Rosser, a cadet at West Point, and Custer fought on opposite sides during the Civil War, they remained fast friends throughout their lives. Rosser spoke in Custer’s defense when critics attributed the deaths of Custer and his men to Custer’s recklessness and negligence at the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Appointed Brigadier General of the Michigan Brigade at age 23, Custer became the youngest general in the history of the United States Army
Custer’s bravery at Gettysburg elevated him to national hero status and forged a bond between him and his men. They knew they followed a commander who could win.
Custer and his men were instrumental in forcing the retreat of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s forces resulting in Lee’s subsequent surrender. Custer was the lucky officer to receive the enemy’s flag of surrender.
A prolific writer, Custer published numerous articles for magazines, several books and numerous outspoken letters to the editor
An avid outdoorsman, Custer was a skilled hunter and taxidermist. His preserved animal specimens and Native American artifacts collected out West were initially displayed at the Detroit Audubon Club.
In 1896, to commemorate the famous Battle at Little Big Horn, Anheuser-Busch started making lithographs of the painting by F. Otto Becker titled “Custer’s Last Fight”. Over 1,000,000 reproductions of this print were published and distributed by the company throughout the ensuing century (per Custer Battlefield Museum).
In life, as in death, Custer had his share of admirers and detractors.