George B. Penwell was born in 1849 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He worked as a painter before enlisting in the 7th Cavalry on March 1, 1866, when he was assigned to Company B and served until March 1, 1869. He enlisted again on January 16, 1871, at the age of 22, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and was assigned to Company K of the 7th Cavalry. He was on the Black Hills Expedition of 1874 and fought in the valley and hilltop fights during the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25-26, 1876. During his career, he also enlisted in Company L, 5th Cavalry; Troop B, 1st Cavalry; Company C and D, 15th Infantry; and the 4th Infantry. On June 25, 1886, he attended the 10th anniversary observance of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He was 5'5" tall with gray eyes, brown hair, and a fair complexion. He was married to Adessah Kanta, who died on January 19, 1881, and a woman named Martha on November 5, 1890. He resided in the District of Columbia for six years and received a pension of $6 per month. He died on December 17, 1905, at the age of 56, in Barnes Hospital at the U.S. Soldiers Home of cancer of the stomach and pancreas and exhaustion. He was buried in the Soldiers Home National Cemetery on December 19.
Source: Ronald H. Nichols, ed., Men with Custer: Biographies of the 7th Cavalry (Hardin, MT: Custer Battlefield Historical & Museum Association, 2000)
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