Author. She is remembered as the wife of Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, of “Custer's Last Stand” at the Battle of Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. Elizabeth Clift Bacon was born to a wealthy and influential Judge Daniel Staton Bacon and Eleanor Sophia Page. Being their only child to live to adulthood, she was the center of their lives and a “Daddy's girl.” She grew into a beautiful young lady at 5'4” tall, fine features, brown hair and blue eyes. Proving her intelligence, she graduated as valedictorian from the Young Ladies Seminary and then the Collegiate Institute in Monroe, Michigan. She met Custer during the Civil War at a Thanksgiving social in 1862. She fell in love with him but her father refused to allow them to marry, as Custer was from a poor undistinguished family. Her father had planned for a more suitable candidate for marriage. After Custer was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General, Judge Bacon agreed to the marriage with the ceremony held February 9, 1864 in the First Presbyterian Church in Monroe. The couple were deeply committed to each other and often wrote long passionate letters when they were separated. These letters have become historical documents. In the role of the officer's wife, she joined in Custer's romantic pursuit of fame and glory. She followed him from post to post from a tent near front lines of the Civil War in Virginia to postwar assignments in Texas, Fort Riley in Kansas, and Fort Lincoln in the Dakota Territory. After Custer's death in 1876 at the Battle of Little Big Horn, she was a thirty-four-year-old widow who was deeply in debt. She received a Federal Widow's Pension but that was hardly enough to be comfortable. With the respect of many public figures, she achieved her economic security as an author and lecturer. Through her these books, she built the bigger-than-life legend of Custer, the greatest Indian fighter ever. Among her books were “General Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn: June 25, 1879,” “Following the Guidon,” “The Boy General,” “Boots and Saddles: Or, Life in Dakota with General Custer,” “Tenting on the Plains: Or, General Custer in Kansas and Texas,” and “The Diary of Elizabeth Bacon Custer.” In her books, she did touch on the isolation of army families from the rest of the world. Friends and family do not readily visit when you are stationed near possible battle zones. Though Custer was billed in her books as “General Custer,” he ranked at his death as Lt. Colonel in the United States regular army. She never remarried even though she was still young and beautiful. She and Custer were childless. After her death, her writings about her husband, the charismatic commander, were much more closely evaluated by historians and found that she elevated her husband's actual actions especially in the justification of killing Native Americans. The historians also stated that the reason for embellishment of her husband, of course, made for increase book sales and interesting lectures. Recently, the 1993 book by Shirley A. Leckie, ”Elizabeth Bacon Custer and the Making of a Myth” was published.
Bio by: Linda Davis