September 22, 2009

The Court Marshall of George Armstrong Custer

From mid-September into October of 1867, a General Court Marshall was held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for then Brevet Major-General George Armstrong Custer.

George Armstrong Custer

Custer faced two main charges:
  1. Absence without leave from his command
  2. Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline
Additional charges were brought against Custer for further prejudicing good order and military discipline by giving orders to pursue some supposed deserters and shoot them down without a trial.

You can read the proceedings of the trial starting here.

Here's a page from the testimony of one of the men that Custer instructed to "get on your horse and go after those deserters and shoot them down."

Custer provided a written defense which he said he had "sought to compress ... within the smallest possible compass and if it still seem long, it is because fewer words could no be employed to express what I believe to be a fair and temperate review of the evidence now before you." The written defense rambled for 45 pages.

The Court found Custer guilty on all charges and sentenced him, "to be suspended from rank and command for one year, and forfeit his pay proper for the same time."

In September of 1868, William T Sherman sent this telegraph asking for that Custer be reinstated because of a need for "active young field officers of cavalry":

Other interesting Custer related documents on Footnote include:

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