Posted on Mar 11, 2022      413

George Armstrong Custer was a successful officer who achieved high prominence in the American Civil War. He was instrumental in the Battle of Gettysburg, later took a controversial role in the Indian Wars, and is also remembered for his death at the famous Battle of Little Bighorn.


The life of George Armstrong Custer is fully marked by his military career. His German ancestors, who emigrated to America in 1693, already had a military background. His father was a member of a militia. The young Custer graduated from the military academy at West Point and shortly thereafter served in the American Civil War on the side of the Union (Northern States).


The field of the young officer is the cavalry, in which he takes part in some of the most important battles of the Civil War, starting in 1862. Thus, he goes to the Battle of Gettysburg, in which the Northern States turn the fortunes of war in their favor.

Although his behavior is downright foolhardy, the young officer quickly makes a career for himself. Already in 1865, he is appointed major general of the volunteer army, which is why he is often referred to as “General Custer”. Because of the different rank designations that exist in the Union Army at his time, this designation is controversial. Regardless of such details, he is nationally known as a war hero and has already had a remarkable career for his age. At the end of the war in 1865, he is just 25 years old.


Custer remains loyal to the Army, taking command of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment in 1866. From now on, the enemy is no longer the Southern states, but the Indians.

Briefly, Custer’s career seems to stall when he first sets out to explore Indian territories in 1867. Disobeying orders, he is suspended for indiscipline and only through personal contacts can quickly be reinstated into the service.

In 1868, Custer commands an attack on an Indian village, which in historical retrospect is sometimes referred to as a massacre. It is not the only incident in which opinions differ about the commander’s methods.


In the 1870s, George Armstrong Custer advances into Indian territory frequently. In June 1876, a military operation begins in which Custer played a central role. His regiment is to attack a group of Indians while another unit cuts off their escape route. However, Custer does not know that he would face significantly superior numbers.

The Battle of Little Bighorn, commanded by war chiefs such as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, is the first time a U.S. Army unit has been outgunned by the Indians. Later analysis of the event suggests Custer makes tactical errors that day that contribute to the crushing defeat. Custer and his entire regiment fall in battle. At West Point, the former Military Academy graduate finds his last resting place.


The one-sided image of the Civil War hero who was instrumental in the Northern victory changed. A critical examination of the treatment of the Indians also led to an increasingly negative portrayal of Custer in films and literature. His historical significance as an officer who played a role in many key moments in American history remains, regardless.