Today marks the 168th anniversary of the birth of George Armstrong Custer, the legendary army officer best known for his final battle and death at Little Bighorn.
I realize, of course, that the ties between Custer and Abraham Lincoln are tenuous at best. It is known that Lincoln met Custer's wife, Elizabeth (or Libby), at a reception and exclaimed "So this is the young woman whose husband goes into a charge with a whoop and a shout!" Therefore, Lincoln was obviously aware of the meteoric rise in rank (a temporary Major General at only 23) that Custer experienced in the Civil War. The only other link to Lincoln I can find is that Custer was stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln as his last post prior to his death. I have my reasons for writing today about Custer, if you will indulge me.
Custer was born on December 5, 1839 in the small village of New Rumley, Ohio. The village is in Harrison County, which was also the home of three men who were highly influential in Lincoln's life. My post of November 13, 2007 tells the story of Matthew Simpson, Edwin Stanton, and John Bingham. What's amazing to me is how four important Civil War era figures could hail from the same rural county.
Custer spent his entire youth living in Harrison County and attended college in the nearby village of Hopedale, Ohio. After a stint as a teacher, he enrolled at West Point, where he finished last in his class.
His career is well-known and his final battle and death are legendary. This link is a good place to read much more about the man. He remains a highly controversial figure of American history to this day.
I mentioned earlier why I wanted to write about Custer today. My departed father was born exactly 100 years later to the day on December 5, 1939 just four miles away from where Custer was born. And he is buried just a couple of miles from the Custer birthplace. My dad was forever fascinated by George Armstrong Custer and was proud to have shared a birthday with him, especially having been born in the same area.
Happy Birthday, Colonel Custer. Happy Birthday, dad. I miss you.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 6:17 PM