Thomas Ward Custer

Thomas Ward Custer

New Rumley, Harrison County, Ohio, USA
Death 25 Jun 1876 (aged 31)
Little Big Horn Battle Site, Big Horn County, Montana, USA
Burial Fort Leavenworth, Leavenworth County, Kansas, USA
Plot Section A, site 1488
Memorial ID 6793225 · View Source
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Civil War Double Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Born Thomas Ward Custer, the fifth son of Emanuel Custer and Maria Ward Kirkpatrick, in New Rumley, Ohio. At the age of 16, after one failed attempt, he lied about his age and joined the 21st Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry in 1861. Two weeks later he was mustered in as a private in Company H. They saw several small skirmishes and took parting the Battle of Stone's River, Murfreesboro on December 31. In April 1863 he was assigned to escort duty on the staff of the 21st Ohio's division commander. He then served at Missionary Ridge and Chattanooga on the staff of Major General U.S. Grant, and then saw duty with the staff of the Fourteenth Corps at the rank of corporal. By the summer of 1864, his elder brother, George Armstrong, obtained for him a commission in the 6th Michigan Cavalry and a position as his aide-de-camp. During the 1865 campaign they saw action at Waynesboro, Dinwiddie Court House, and Five Forks. At the battle at Namozine Church he earned the first of his medals with the capture of enemy colors. The Citation read: "Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company B, 6th Michigan Cavalry. Place and date: At Namozine Church, Va. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of flag on 2 April 1865." Several days later at Sailor's Creek, he charged the breastworks and snatched at the enemy colors, demanding surrender. He was shot in the face but refused to give up his prize. He shot the standard bearer and rode off with the colors. He second Citation read: "Place and date: At Sailor Creek, Va, April 1865. Date of issue: 26 May 1865. Citation: 2d Lt. Custer leaped his horse over the enemy's works and captured 2 stands of colors, having his horse shot from under him and receiving a severe wound." He had to be threatened with arrest to stop him from returning to the battle before reporting to the surgeon. He continued to serve as his brother's aide-de-camp until January 1866 when he mustered out of the 6th Michigan and received a commission in the regular army joining the 7th Cavalry as a first lieutenant. He was wounded at Washita in 1868, served in the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873, and the Black Hills Expedition of 1874. He was promoted to Captain in 1875 and was given command of Company C of the 7th Cavalry. On June 25, 1876, five companies of the 7th Cavalry were wiped out in action against the Sioux and Cheyenne at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The three Custer brothers, George, Thomas, and Boston were found within yards of one another. Thomas Custer's body had been so grotesquely mutilated it was only possible to identify him by means of a tattoo he was known to have had. Thomas Custer was initially buried on the battlefield, but was later exhumed and reburied in the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.

Bio by: Iola

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2 Medals of Honor, Captain, Company C, 7 Ohio Cavalry; Ohio; Company B, 6 Michigan Cavalry


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Russ Dodge
  • Added: 20 Sep 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6793225
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Ward Custer (15 Mar 1845–25 Jun 1876), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6793225, citing Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Fort Leavenworth, Leavenworth County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .