George A. Custer

Rare George Armstrong Custer Signature Just Months after Success at Gettysburg

Rare George Armstrong Custer Signature Just Months after Success at Gettysburg

 

In this Special Requisition order, quartermaster Lt. Thomas Ballard filled out a requisition for the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Division of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps. Among the items requested were 111 great coats, 242 cavalry jackets, 52 wool blankets, 78 pairs of boots, 50 ponchos, 71 haversacks, 6 hatchets, 4 axes, 152 pairs of buck gloves, 287 hats, and a set of blank books for letters, endorsements, general orders, special orders, and letters received, and other equipment. The printed form has the certification, “I certify that the above requisition is correct; and that the articles specified are absolutely requisite for the public service, rendered so by the following circumstances:” to which Ballard added “To clothe the men and fulfill the requirements of Orders.” Brigadier General Custer, commanding the 2nd Brigade, signed his name under the endorsement “Approved.”

 

George Armstrong Custer, Document Signed, ca. November 14, 1863. Special Requisition form approved with endorsement by Brigadier General “G A Custer.” 1 p., 8.25" x 10.5". Repaired burn hole affecting one word of text; repaired and unrepaired edge losses, one of which affects text.

 

Historical Background George Armstrong Custer graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1861 as the last in his class. The Civil War had just begun, and both General George B. McClellan and General Alfred Pleasanton recognized Custer’s potential as a cavalry leader. Although he began the war as a 2nd lieutenant, Custer was brevetted a brigadier general of volunteers by the summer of 1863, at the age of 23, making him one of the youngest generals in the Union Army. A few days later, he commanded the Michigan Cavalry Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg. Despite being outnumbered, Custer defeated J. E. B. Stuart’s attack at the East Cavalry Field, and prevented the Confederate cavalry from flanking the Union right and attacking Cemetery Ridge from the rear, as Pickett’s Charge attacked from the front.

 

In the fall of 1863, Major General Alfred Pleasanton commanded the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, consisting of three divisions. Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick commanded the 3rd division, consisting of two brigades. Brigadier General Custer commanded the 2nd Brigade, often called the “Michigan Brigade,” which was composed of the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th Michigan Cavalry regiments and the 1st Vermont Cavalry regiment.

 

The brigade participated in the Bristoe Campaign in October and November 1863, and the subsequent brief Mine Run Campaign of late November-early December 1863. In the former, Confederate General Robert E. Lee failed to bring on a decisive battle and was forced to withdraw across the Rapidan River. Opposing cavalry units fought twice at Auburn and once at Buckland Mills in mid-October in inconclusive skirmishes and a minor Union defeat. The Mine Run Campaign was equally inconclusive when Union General George G. Meade planned to attack a part of Lee’s army but lost the element of surprise, allowing Lee to withdraw into heavier fortifications. During the Battle of Mine Run, Custer was in temporary command of the entire 3rd division in place of Kilpatrick.

 

Both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia then went into winter quarters, the former at Brandy Station, Virginia, seventy miles north of Richmond, and the latter about twenty miles farther south. This requisition reflects the brigade’s preparations between the Bristoe and Mine Run campaigns for the coming winter, resupplying after the battles, losses of equipment, and chaos of 1863.

 

George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) was born in Ohio but spent much of his childhood in Monroe, Michigan. He entered the United States Military Academy in 1857 and graduated early in June 1861, last in his class. Commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the cavalry, he participated in the defense of Washington and the Peninsula campaign of 1862. He received promotions and by the summer of 1863 was one of the youngest generals in the Union Army at age 23. He served as brigadier general of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. For action at the Battle of Gettysburg, he was promoted to major in the regular army. He married Elizabeth Clift Bacon in February 1864, and led his brigade in the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Custer’s division blocked Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s retreat, forcing his surrender at Appomattox Court House. General Philip Sheridan gave the table on which the surrender was signed to Elizabeth Custer. After he mustered out of volunteer service, Custer returned to the regular army and received a commission as lieutenant colonel of the 7th Cavalry regiment, headquartered in Kansas. He participated in various actions against Native Americans over the next decade until killed by the Sioux at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876.

 

Thomas Ballard (1836-1867) enlisted in the 1st Michigan Cavalry when it was organized in 1861 and became the regimental quartermaster. He also served as acting brigade quartermaster. He rose to the rank of captain, and reenlisted with the regiment as a veteran. He was discharged in November 1865, but was “broken down in health,” and died of consumption in March 1867.

 

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

 

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Item: 67271

Price: $8,000.00
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George A. CusterGeorge A. CusterGeorge A. Custer
George A. Custer
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