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Custer in the News
In Monroe County and throughout the United States

(Monroe Democrat, May 26, 1905, p.1)



Hon. S.W. Burroughs, of Detroit, who will deliver the principal oration at the Memorial Day exercises here next Tuesday, has courteously written for THE DEMOCRAT a brief history of General Custer's brilliant military career during the war between the states. This we know will be eagerly read by our readers, as articles on Monroe's gallant military son usually treat of his last brave fight against the Indians. Furthermore, as this is the fortieth anniversary of the closing of the civil war, such articles are especially timely and appreciated. Mr. Burroughs says:

No cavalry officer is recorded in history with a superior record. His record equals that of Sheridan and surpasses that of Marshal Murat of the French armies as cavalry officer under Napoleon. After the Peninsular campaign, in which General Custer took an active part, he participated in his second campaign, which closed with the battles of South Mountain and Antietam described by the Confederates as the battle of Sharpsburg. He then followed General McClellan into temporary retirement, but was next conspicuously noted for his gallant services rendered at the great battle of Chancellorville, where, for gallantry displayed in helping to save the Federal army from defeat at the hands of the Confederates under General Lee, he procured an appointment from Major General Pleasanton as a personal aide, under whom he fought at Beverly Fords, Upperville and Barbour's Cross Roads. Custer then received his promotion through General Pleasanton.

He was appointed Brigadier General to command one of the cavalry brigades of Pleasanton's corps of cavalry. This brigade, consisting of the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th Michigan cavalry Regiments, and was organized December 12, 1862. This brigade under Custer routed Hampton's Confederate cavalry at Gettysburg and protected the wagon train of supplies of the Federal army. Custer and his brigade also pursued the Confederate train when in retreat after Gettysburg, destroying more than 400 wagons and capturing more than 1,800 prisoners. This brigade, led by Custer, attacked the rear guard of Lee's army while recrossing the Potomac in retreat back to Virginia. It captured 1,500 prisoners, also a quantity of battle flags and cannon. The Michigan brigade, led by Custer, opened the great battle of the Wilderness on the morning of May 5, 1864. It accompanied General Sheridan in the great Federal raid toward Richmond from Spottsylvania May 9th, 1864, and led the column of Federal cavalry capturing Beaver Dam and setting free 400 Union prisoners.

This brigade, still under the official command of Custer, returned in support of Grant's infantry and fought several cavalry battles, among which was the battle of Trevillian Station. It surprised the enemy's rear, but the supporting attack that was to have been in the enemy's front was delayed and the Confederates closed in on the Michigan brigade. There were five brigades of Confederates against Custer and his brigade and the battle lasted for about three hours, Custer always in the vanguard. Guns were captured only to be recaptured and Custer, when his standard bearer had been killed, only saved his flag from capture by tearing it from the staff and wrapping it around his own body. Custer so maneuvered his brigade that finally he was able to withdraw in good order. Here he displayed generalship in getting away from overwhelming odds equal to that displayed in his offensive maneuvers.

Custer and his brigade marked the closing months of the war by a succession of brilliant achievements. At Winchester the brigade fought until after dark and was first, with Custer leading, through the lines of the Confederates. Nine battle flags and more than one prisoner to every man in the brigade were trophies of the day. All through the remainder of the great campaign of "On the Richmond," the Michigan brigade, under the leadership of this immortal cavalier, was equally conspicuous and successful. As a result, Custer was promoted. He was placed in command of the 2nd and then the 3rd division of the army of the Shenandoah. When Sheridan reached the field of Cedar Creek after his famous ride, Custer's division alone was ready for action. The Michigan brigade was part of this division. Sheridan's order was simply: .Go in, Custer!. The order was hardly necessary, for Custer was already in line and ready to advance, the division having been just reformed under his order. He, at the head of the division, drove the Confederates pell mell from the field. They captured 45 cannon and several hundred prisoners. Fro this achievement Custer was brevetted Major General before he was 27 years of age.

So much for Custer and his Michigan Brigade!

On the 9th of October, 1864, Custer's division encountered Confederate General Rosser's cavalry command and routed it, taking many prisoners and trophies, and for this the war department thanked him and his command in special order. He also encountered Jubal Early at Waynesboro in February 1865, capturing 1,800 prisoners, 200 wagons, besides battle flags and cannon. In the final campaign before Richmond, Custer and his division converted the battle of Dinwiddie Court House into actual victory. At Five Forks, at the head of his division, he was the first in crossing the works of the Confederates. At Sailor's Creek and vicinity, when two unsuccessful attempts had been made to delay the enemy's retreat, Sheridan is known to have exclaimed: "I wish to God Custer was here; he would have been into the enemy's train before this time!." Accordingly Custer and his division soon came. They became engaged. The division, still under his command, destroyed a large number of wagons, captured 16 pieces of artillery, 31 battle flags and 5,000 prisoners, including several general officers, among them Curtis Lee, a son of Robert E. Lee. After the battle Custer was riding up to General Sheridan when the latter and all the staff with caps waving proposed three cheers for Custer and his brave men, which were given with a will. At Appomattox Court House, Custer and his command were in advance and were the first to receive General Lee's white flag, which Custer retained.

Well may Monroe be proud of the fact that he was once a son of hers and when a boy played in her streets.

(Monroe Democrat, May 26, 1905, p.1)

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