Does “Battle of the Little Bighorn” ring any bell? Well, that is far as many people go when asked about George Armstrong Custer. However, there are many facts not well-known about this cavalry officer who led his men to death in this controversial battle. Apart from the fact that he was first a teacher before joining the military, what else should you know about General George Custer? Let’s get down to it!
George Custer: Amazing Facts You Might Not Know About the Famous U.S. Military General
1. He graduated months later after his West Point class
He joined West Point as a cadet in 1857 with 78 other students hoping to complete their course five years later. However, their course period was then reduced to only four years, which meant that they would be done in 1861. At the U.S. Military Academy, he was known for his pranks rather than academics, an interesting George Custer fact.
On the eve of his supposed graduation day, he was on duty. As he was doing his regular patrols, Custer came across two juniors in a fierce fight of words. Custer being who he was, he told them to settle their differences in a physical fight, and that earned him a punishment. He was denied his diploma until some months later.
2. George Custer is the Youngest Ever U.S. Military General
Academics was not Custer’s strongest department, but he had his strengths elsewhere. After graduating as the lowest-ranking cadet (“the goat”), Custer joined the Army of the Potomac. As a cavalry officer, he showed his tactical brilliance and was a bold leader. As such, he earned points from his superiors and respect from those who worked below him.
In 1863, when he was only 23 years of age, he was promoted to brigadier general. Since then, there has never been any younger general in U.S. military history. He continuously rose in ranks at his age and was already a major general by the end of the Civil War.
3. He was flamboyant
Rarely do we find military officers paying great attention to their appearance, simply because they are always in uniform. Well, things were different with Custer. He would always ensure that he looked great and attractive even before going to the battlefield. An interesting fact about George Custer is that his hair was scented with cinnamon oil. As if that was not enough, Custer went ahead and put on a stylish scarf, gold laces on his black velvet uniform, and a sombrero.
4. Custer led one of the most controversial battles in U.S. history
Perhaps the only well-known fact about Custer’s life was the battle that proved to be the end of him and his men. Despite his tactical prowess, Custer made one of the most significant mistakes in his career on the 25th of June, 1876. The Indian agents who came with inaccurate information regarding the number of hostilities did not help Custer’s judgement before the battle.
As such, this miscalculation led to the loss of over 200 U.S. military personnel. Among those who lost their lives at war were four members of the General’s family. Therefore, the repercussions of Custer’s Last Stand were not only felt by the U.S. government but also George Custer’s family.
5. Custer’s name became synonymous with the Battle of Gettysburg
First, we must state that Custer’s father-in-law was not his huge fan, an interesting George Custer fact. Perhaps his failure in academics did not please his wife’s father, but that would soon change. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Custer led several charges, and his horse fell victim in one of them. Although he came out a hero, more than half of the soldiers who joined him lost their lives. Nonetheless, this remains one of his best-fought battles.
6. He once considered being a politician ora coal baron
We have all been in such situations where we feel like giving up due to the challenges we face. Well, George Armstrong Custer was no exception, and he came close to changing his career path.
After every battle, he came home with depleted groups, sometimes losing more than half of his men. As such, the military grew smaller, and after the war, his sense of purpose faded away. He started considering a move to politics or charcoal industry. However, Gen. Sherman summoned him before he could make any decision and asked him to help lead the country westward.
7. George Custer was demoted to Colonel at some point in his career
As stated earlier, the U.S. Army suffered a lot after every single war. In fact, following the Civil War, the group was downsized to a point where some of the posts were scraped away. As such, Custer was forced to work as a colonel since he was determined to remain active. Fortunately, it was not long before he could regain his previous post.
8. He was nicknamed “Autie”
Yes, it is quite simple, but not many people were able to pronounce his middle name. In fact, Custer himself mispronounced it several times when he was still learning to speak. As such, his family adopted the name “Autie”, and it stuck for the rest of his life. An interesting fact about George Custer is that Libbie, his wife, called him by this name.
9. People believed that he lived a charmed life
Imagine escaping death your horse has been shot out under you. Well, that was Custer’s life in a nutshell. He faced the same horse-scenario eleven times in his career, and none of them led to severe injuries on his body.
If you don’t think that is luck, then how about having nearly half of your group die after every battle but you come out with no injuries? Perhaps the peak of it all is when he was able to revive his military career despite having been court-martialed more than once. However, luck was not on his side during the battle at the Little Bighorn.
I hope that this article on George Custer facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!