Medal of Honor Roll Call: Thomas W. Custer


Thomas W. Custer

[Hero younger brother of George A. Custer, Thomas was also killed June 25, 1876 at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The below citations and biographical sketch are from the action he saw in the Civil War.–ed.]


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company B, 6th Michigan Cavalry. Place and date: At Namozine Church, Va., 10 May 1863. Entered service at: Monroe, Mich. Birth: New Rumley, Ohio. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Second award. Citation: Capture of flag on 10 May 1863.


Place and date: At Sailor Creek , Va, April 1865. Date of issue: 26 May 1865. Citation: 2d Lt. Custer leaped his horse over the enemy’s works and captured 2 stands of colors. having his horse shot from under him and receiving a severe wound.

From the Michigan Daughters of the American Revolution Historical Collections:

Name: Thomas W. Custer, M. H.
Division: Lt. co. B, 6th Mich. Cavalry

Comment: Custer, Thomas W., Monroe. Enlisted in company H, 21st Ohio, Sept. 2, 1861, for three years. Age 18. Served with this organization until Oct. 10, 1864. Re-entered service in company B, 6th Mich. cav. as 2nd lieut. Commissioned to date, July 11, 1864. Brevet 1st lieutenant, captain, and major, U. S. volunteers, Mar. 13, 1865, for distinguished and gallant conduct. Discharged at Detroit, Mich., Nov. 24, 1865. 2nd lieutenant, 1st U. S. infantry, Feb. 23, 1866. 1st lieutenant, 7th U. S. cavalry, July 28, 1866. Regimental quartermaster, Dec. 3, 1866. Captain, Dec. 2, 1875. Brevet captain to date, March 2, 1867, for gallant and distinguished conduct in the engagement with the enemy at Waynesboro, Va., March 2, 1865. Major March 2, 1867, for distinguished conduct with the enemy at Namozine Church, Va., April, 1865. Lieut. col. March 2, 1867, for distinguished courage and service at the battle of Sailors Creek, Va. Medal of Honor awarded:–April 24, 1865 for the capture of a flag at Namozine Church, April 2, 1865.


A second Medal of Honor, May 22, 1865, for the capture of a flag at Sailors Creek, April 6th, 1865. Killed in action with the Sioux Indians at Little Big River, Mont. Terr., June 25, 1876. Lt. Custer was one of the four soldiers in the United States to receive the second award of the Medal of Honor. Ground of award:–The War department issued a Medal of Honor to 2nd Lieut. Thos. W. Custer, co. B, 6th Mich. cavalry, May 3. Place: Namozine Church, Va. Date of action, April 2, 1865. Ground: Capture of flag. 2nd Medal of Honor given by War dept. May 26, 1865, for action April 6, 1865 at Sailors Creek, Va. “Leaped his horse over the enemy’s works and captured two stands of colors having his horse shot under him and receiving a severe wound.”

Gen. Geo. A. Custer, brigadier general of Michigan volunteers in an order addressed to his troops dated April 9, 1865 said:–“During the past six months, though in most instances confronted by superior numbers, you have captured from the enemy in open battle 111 pieces of field artillery, 65 battle flags and upward of 10,000 prisoners of war, including seven general officers. Within the past ten days and included in the above you have captured 46 field pieces of artillery and 37 battle flags. You have never lost a gun, never lost a color, never been defeated, and notwithstanding the numerous engagements in which you have borne a prominent part you have captured every piece of artillery which the enemy has opened upon you.”


Thomas Ward Custer, brother of General G. A. Custer, born in New Rumley, Harrison county, Ohio, March 15, 1845. Died in Mont., June 25, 1876. Enlisted in Ohio regiment as aide-de-camp on Gen. G. A. Custer staff, Army of Potomac. 2nd Lt. in 6th cavalry, Nov. 8, 1864. His horse was often neck and neck with that of his famous brother.

When he captured his second flag at Sailors Creek, he was shot by the standard bearer in the face. He was preparing to charge again when he was stopped by his brother and told to go to the rear. As he paid no attention to this request it became necessary for Gen. Custer to order him under arrest before he could check his ardor.

In the spring of 1865 he accompanied Gen. Custer to Texas and served on the staff until mustered out in Nov. He received the brevets of captain, major, and lieutenant colonel, Feb. 23, 1866; 2nd lieut. in 1st infantry of regular army and on July 28, 1st lieut. in brother’s reg. of 7th cav.

When asked his opinion of his brother Gen. Custer said:–“If you want to know my opinion of Tom, I can only say that I think he should be the general and I the captain.” “1st Lieut. Thos. W. Custer, 6th Mich. cav. to be major of vol. by brevet for distinguished conduct at the battles of Dinwiddie Court House, March 31; Five Forks, April 1; Sailors Creek, April 6, 1865 at which latter place he leaped his horse over the enemy’s works, be ng one of the first to enter them and captured two stands of colors having his horse shot under him and received a severe wound.”


Order signed by Maj. P. H. Sheridan.


Grave marker at the Custer National Cemetery at the Little Big Horn Battlefield National monument Custer’s body was so mutilated by the opposing Indians at the battle, his remains were only identified by a tattoo on his arm.

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