MONROE MEN WHO DIED IN BATTLE 100 YEARS AGO
(Monroe Evening News, June 25, 1976, p.10, c.1)
GEN. GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER, 36, was born in New Rumley, Ohio on Dec. 5, 1839 and came to Monroe 13 years later to reside with his brother-in-law and sister, David and Lydia Reed. He attended school here, one being Stebbins Academy. He always called Monroe his home. He taught school a couple of years after returning to Ohio and in 1856, while Congressman John A. Bingham of that state was canvassing his district young Custer jocosely told him he would vote for the politician if he (Bingham) would send him to West Point. Bingham promised and was as good as his word; Custer entered military school in 1857. Soon afterwards his parents moved to Monroe and Custer spent his vacations there. In July of 1861 he left West Point, was sent to Washington, then to the front with dispatches for Gen. McDowell and was assigned to duty just in time to participate in the first Battle of Bull Run. Following the fortunes of the Army of the Potomac, he participated in almost every battle. He rose in rank and two years later was brevetted Major General of Volunteers; afterwards he was assigned to the command of the 3rd Cavalry Division. During the last six months of the war they captured 111 pieces of artillery, 65 battle flags and more than 10,000 prisoners. They never lost a gun or color and were never defeated. Afterwards Custer served in Texas and then joined some of the expeditions against the Indians on the frontier. In the spring of 1874 he led the exploring expedition into the Indian Territory of the Black Hills where gold was discovered. He married Elizabeth Clift Bacon, the only daughter of the Hon. Judge Daniel S. Bacon, at the First Presbyterian Church in Monroe in 1864. His wife traveled with him during the remainder of his lifetime. Custer wrote the book "My Life on the Plains" and prepared numerous articles for the magazine, Galaxy, and also sporting articles for another magazine under an assumed name. He was survived by his wife, his parents, Emmanuel and Maria Custer; a brother Nevin, and two sisters, Mrs. Lydia Reed and Mrs. Margaret Calhoun all of Monroe. He was buried at West Point, N.Y.
CAPTAIN THOMAS WARD CUSTER , 31, born at New Rumley, Ohio March 15, 1844, the impetuous younger brother of the General, won two Congressional Medals of Honor during the Civil War. Up until World War II, dashing Tom was one of only four Americans who achieved the double recognition for bravery on the battlefield, and both during the brief space of one month. Young Tom, at 18, joined the 21st Regiment, Ohio, Sept. 2, 1861, and fought valiantly with it for three years. Late in 1864 his brother, commanding the 6th Michigan Cavalry, secured his transfer as an aide with the commission of second lieutenant. Twice during the spring of 1865 Tom crossed enemy lines to return with enemy battle flags. The last time he was pricked by a bayonet, shot twice and his horse felled, but he returned triumphant. His distinctive reckless bravery won him the brevet (temporary) commission of colonel in the Michigan 6th. From then on he followed his brother in every action. In 1866 Custer was placed in command of the 7th Cavalry at Ft. Lincoln and Tom was his lieutenant. In 1874 Tom was in the party which captured Rain-in-the-Face. Two other Monroe men won Congressional Medals of Honor during the Civil War. James I. Christiancy, son of Judge Isaac P. Christiancy, and Charles F. Sancrainte were the others. Tom was survived by his parents, his brother, his sisters and is buried at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
BOSTON CUSTER , 25, born at New Rumley, Ohio, on Oct. 31, 1850, was in the commissary department and never saw military service. He had been with his brother for some time when he died. Of "consumptive" tendency, he had been advised that an open air existence on the plains would be beneficial to his health. The general had him appointed forage master for the 7th and he was on this duty during the ill-fated mission. He was survived by his parents, two sisters, and his brother. Boston is buried at Woodland Cemetery in Monroe and Custer students often make pilgrimages to the obelisk at his grave.
LT. JAMES CALHOUN , 30, was born Aug. 24, 1845 at Cincinnati, Ohio. He married Maggie E. Custer, sister of the Custer boys, March 7, 1872, in the Methodist Church, Monroe. Lt. Calhoun entered the service as a private in the regular regiment during the Civil War. He was the General's adjutant in the Indian campaign. Lt. Calhoun was the son of a widow living in Indiana. His brother, Lt. Frederick S. Calhoun, of Boston, later married Emma Reed, who had been with her aunt Elizabeth at Ft. Abraham Lincoln at the time of the massacre. Her brother, Autie, was also killed in the battle. He is survived by his mother, a sister and brother and is buried at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
HARRY ARMSTRONG REED , 18, was born April 27, 1858, at Monroe the only son of David and Lydia Custer Reed. With his sister, Emma, he left Monroe in May accompanying the General's party to Ft. Abraham Lincoln. Autie joined the expedition as a herder. His parents had a letter written June 10 from Powder River, 20 miles from its junction with the Yellowstone, in which he speaks of Custer's command as about starting to find Indians. He said the herd had become so reduced as not to need attention and that he had obtained permission to travel with his uncle. He speaks, also, of writing a letter to the Commercial and made a reference to some talk about going in another direction: "Uncle Autie says there are no Indians there; but we shall find Indians," he wrote. He as survived by his parents and his sister. The Reed and Custer lots are in close proximity at Woodland Cemetery and the marker for Autie and the obelisk for Boston are within a few feet of one another.
CAPT. GEORGE W. YATES , 34, was born at Albany, N.Y. on Feb. 26, 1842. Capt. Yates entered the old 4th Michigan Infantry as a lieutenant in 1862 and became conspicuous for his courage and deportment. In 1863 he was made an aide-de-camp for Gen. Pleasanton and was afterwards brevetted a major of volunteers. When the regular army was reorganized, after the war, he was appointed second lieutenant of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and had been with Custer for 10 years at his death. He is buried at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. Mrs. Yates, who became a close friend of Mrs. Custer, and their three children accompanied the bereaving party to Monroe where they intended to make their home. Richard Roberts, brother of Mrs. Yates, started on the expedition with Custer as a herder and a correspondent of the New York Sun. About 70 miles from the place of the massacre his pony gave out and he was left behind, afterwards joining Reno's command. He was a particular friend of Autie Reed, both being herders. He left Monroe for Hudson, Wis. where a brother resided. Capt. Yates was survived by his wife and three children.
(Monroe Evening News, June 25, 1976, p.10, c.1)
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