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Thomas Ward Custer
[[Image:File:TomCuster.jpg.jpg|center|200px|border]]Captain Thomas W. Custer, two-time Medal of Honor recipient
Personal Information
Born: March 15, 1845(1845-03-15)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: June 25, 1876 (aged 31)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brevet Lieutenant Colonel (Volunteer Army)
Captain (Regular Army)
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: 21st Ohio Infantry, 1861-1864
6th Michigan Cavalry, 1864-1865
7th U.S. Cavalry, 1866-1876
Commands: Company C, 7th U.S. Cavalry
Battles: American Civil War
*Battle of Namozine Church
*Battle of Sayler's Creek
Awards: Medal of Honor (2)
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Thomas Ward Custer (March 15, 1845 – June 25, 1876) was a United States Army officer and two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor for bravery during the American Civil War. He was a younger brother of George Armstrong Custer, perishing with him at Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory.

Early life and Civil War[]

He was born in New Rumley, Ohio, the third son of Emanuel and Maria Custer. He enlisted in the Union Army, in September 1861, at age 16, and served in the early campaigns of the Civil War as a private in the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He saw action at numerous battles, including Stones River, Missionary Ridge and the Atlanta Campaign. He mustered out in October 1864 as a corporal. Commissioned a second lieutenant in Company B of the 6th Michigan Cavalry, he became his brother's aide-de-camp and accompanied him throughout the last year of the war.

File:Medal of honor old.jpg

Thomas W. Custer was awarded the Medal of Honor twice for gallantry for his actions during the American Civil War

Tom Custer distinguished himself by winning successively the brevets of captain, major, and lieutenant colonel, although he was barely twenty years of age when the Civil War ended. He was awarded two Medals of Honor for capturing Confederate regimental flags (2nd North Carolina Cavalry flag at Namozine Church on April 3, 1865, and again at Sayler's Creek on April 6, 1865). He was one of only four soldiers or sailors to receive the dual honor during the Civil War, and one of just nineteen in history. His second citation includes,

"Custer crossed the line of temporary works on the flank of the road, where his unit was confronted by a supporting battle-line. In the second line he wrested the colors from an enemy color bearer. Advancing on another standard he received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse. Despite his wounds, he continued his assault on the color bearer who began to fall from wounds he had also received. As he fell, the wounded Lieutenant Custer reached out to grasp this second standard of colors, bearing both off in triumph."

eyewitness account, source unknown

Date of actions[]

Until 1948, official references for the date of actions for which Thomas Custer was awarded the Medal of Honor were listed as 2 and April 6, 1865. However, that year a US Army book on Medal of Honor citations listed the dates as May 11, 1863 and April 6, 1865.[1] Consolidated lists of all Medal of Honor citations were published by the US Senate in 1963, 1973 and 1979 with the incorrect first date of May 11, 1863 and in 1963 and 1973 with the correct second date of April 6, 1865. The 1979 edition published the second date as April 1865 and this would seem to be why the online Army Medal of Honor citations at United States Army Center of Military History [2] has two incorrect dates. The Civil War Army recipient that follows Thomas Custer alphabetically is Byron Cutcheon whose date of action was May 10, 1863 which may explain how the first date for Thomas Custer appeared as May 10, 1863.[3]

Indian Wars[]

Following the war, Custer was appointed first lieutenant in the 7th Cavalry in 1866. He was wounded in the Washita campaign of the Indian Wars, in 1868. He later served on Reconstruction duty in South Carolina and participated in the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873, where he fought in the Battle of Honsinger Bluff, and the Black Hills Expedition of 1874. He was appointed captain in 1875 and given command of Company C of the 7th Cavalry. In 1874, at the trading post at Standing Rock Agency, Custer participated in the arrest of the Lakota Rain-in-the-Face for the 1873 murder of Dr. John Honsinger.

During the 1876 Little Bighorn campaign of the Black Hills War, he served as aide-de-camp to Lt. Col. George A. Custer and died with his brother. Lt. Henry Harrington actually led Company C during the battle. Younger brother Boston Custer also died in the fighting, as did other Custer relatives and friends. It was widely rumored that Rain-in-the-Face, who had escaped from captivity and was a participant at the Little Bighorn. Custer's remains were identified by a recognizable tattoo of his initials on his arm.

Tom Custer was buried on the battlefield, but exhumed the next year and reburied in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. A stone memorial slab marks the place where his body was discovered and initially buried.

See also[]

  • List of Medal of Honor recipients
  • List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F


  1. The Medal of Honor of the United States Army, Government Printing Officer, Washington, 1948
  2. "United States Army Center of Military History". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved January 6, 2010. 
  3. [1]


PD-icon This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

cs:Thomas Custer