After completing his lower level education in Monroe MI, Custer returned to Ohio and worked as a school teacher for a period of time. He eventually came to the conclusion that teaching would not become his life's work and decided to enroll in the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated in June of 1861, and thus began his Military career. Custer was initially assigned to the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, and by July of that same year, found himself at the First Battle of Bull Run.
Custer quickly rose through the ranks as he had already attained the rank of Brigadier General of volunteers after only 2 years of service. And at that point, he was only 23 years old. Custer continued to make a name for himself throughout the Civil War as he fought in some of its bloodiest and most harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln once described Custer as “the man who goes into a charge with a whoop and a shout.” General Custer was also present at Appomattox Court House to witness the surrender of General Lee to General Grant.
General Custer is perhaps best known for his actions after the Civil War. He was made acting commander of the 7th Cavalry in November of 1866. For the next 10 years, he and his men engaged the Plains Indians in countless battles and skirmishes. Custer once said “You ask me if I will not be glad when the last battle is fought, so far as the country is concerned I, of course, must wish for peace, and will be glad when the war is ended, but if I answer for myself alone, I must say that I shall regret to see the war end”.
Custer fought his final battle on June 25, 1876. He and more than 200 of his men were killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Tom Custer (winner of 2 Medals of Honor) and Boston Custer were also killed at the Little Bighorn. General Custer was originally buried on the battlefield, but his remains were later moved to West Point Cemetery where he was buried again, this time with full Military honors.
Theories abound as to the cause of this monumental defeat, and whether or not it could have been prevented. But this much we do know; George Armstrong Custer was a larger than life character who played a major role in American history. He was born a warrior and he died a warrior.