On June 25, 1876, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer led the 7th U.S. Cavalry into the valley of the Little Bighorn. By sunset, Custer and five of his companies lay deadkilled in battle against Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.
Through the passage of time, Custer’s last fight has come to overshadow the rest of his military career, which had its brilliant beginning in the American Civil War.
Plucked from obscurity by Maj. Gen. George McClellan, Custer served as a staff officer through the early stages of the war. His star began to rise in late June, 1863, when he catapulted several grades to brigadier general and was given brigade command. Shortly thereafter, at Gettysburg and Buckland Mills, he led his menthe Wolverinesin some of the heaviest cavalry fighting of the Eastern Theater.
At Yellow Tavern, Custer’s assault broke the enemy line, and one of his troopers mortally wounded the legendary Confederate cavalryman, J.E.B. Stuart. At Trevilian Station, his brigade was nearly destroyed. At Third Winchester, he participated in an epic cavalry charge. Elevated to lead the Third Cavalry Division, Custer played a major role at Tom’s Brook and, later, at Appomattox, which ultimately led to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Historian Daniel T. Davis, a long-time student of George Custer, has spent countless hours walking and studying the battlefields where Custer fought in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In The Most Desperate Acts of Gallantry, he chronicles the Civil War experiences of one of the most recognized individuals to emerge from that tragic chapter in American history.
About the Author
A former historian at Appomattox Court House National Historic Site and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Daniel T. Davis is a co-managing editor of Emerging Civil War (www.emergingcivilwar.com). He has co-authored six books in the Emerging Civil War Series and has also authored and co-authored articles in Blue & Gray, Civil War Times, and Hallowed Ground.
Eric J. Wittenberg is an accomplished American Civil War cavalry historian and author. An attorney in Ohio, Wittenberg has authored over 21 books on various Civil War subjects, with particular focus on cavalry operations, as well as three dozen articles in popular magazines such as North & South, Blue&Gray, America’s Civil War, and Gettysburg Magazine. His first book, Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions (Thomas Publications, Gettysburg PA, 1998) won the prestigious 1998 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award. The second edition won the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award, for Reprint, 2011. His 2014 book, “The Devil’s to Pay”: John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour, was awarded the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable’s 2015 Book Award.
Wittenberg is a favored speaker at Civil War Roundtables, and conducts tours of various Civil War battlefields and related sites. He was instrumental in saving important battlefield land at Trevilian Station and Brandy Station, Virginia, and wrote the text for the historical waysides located at Trevilian Station. He lives in Columbus with his wife Susan and their beloved dogs. Visit Eric J. Wittenberg's website: http://www.ericwittenberg.com
Table of Contents
Foreword Eric J. Wittenberg xi
Chapter 1 First Charge at Catlett's Station 1
Chapter 2 The Fight at New Bridge 11
Chapter 3 Friends at War 21
Chapter 4 Across Beverly Ford 31
Chapter 5 A New Brigadier 43
Chapter 6 Buckland Mills 57
Chapter 7 Yellow Tavern 71
Chapter 8 Trevilian Station 81
Chapter 9 In the Shenandoah Valley 93
Chapter 10 Appomattox 107
Chapter 11 After the War 121
Appendix A Tom Caster Daniel T. Davis 139
Appendix B The Courtship and Marriage of Elizabeth and George Armstrong Custer Ashley Webb 143
Appendix C Custer in Memory Paul Ashdown 153
Appendix D Officer Remembered Daniel T. Davis 161
Suggested Reading 164
About the Author 166