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Scarce Custer Civil War Congratulatory Handbill

Congratulatory Order from General Custer. 1p, 7.5 x.9.75 in (19 x 25 cm) (sight). In period frame. Head Quarters Third Cavalry Division, Appomattox C.H., VA., April 9th, 1865. No printer noted. In lower left A. Adj. Gen. Barnhardt, which we don't find noted in other descriptions.

Not to be outdone by Lee's General Order No. 9, Custer expresses his gratitude to the soldiers of the Third Cavalry, and outlines their triumphs over the past six months, with special emphasis on the ten days leading up to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. He ends the enumeration of their achievements with: And now, speaking for myself alone, when the war is ended, and the task of the historian begins; when those deeds of daring, which have rendered the name and fame of the Third Cavalry Division imperishable, are inscribed upon the bright pages of our country's history, I only ask that my name be written as that of the commander of the Third Cavalry Division.

There are very few of these available for comparison, and only one version appears to have printer information, that of G.A. Sykes of Petersburg, printer of The Daily News. The day after Lee and Grant signed the surrender, Custer was ordered back to Petersburg, where this handbill most likely was printed. It is thought that Mr. Sykes may have printed additional copies, given the popularity of Lee's Order and the respect shown to Custer by his men. Popular legend has it that the table on which the surrender was signed was given to Custer for his wife, Libbie (or so she claimed after his death, as she gave journalists tours of his office which she kept as a museum).

Although George Armstrong Custer had a bit of a rocky history at the US Military Academy. Perpetually threatened with expulsion from demerits earned mostly from pranks pulled on classmates, he did graduate in June 1861, last in his class, just as the Civil War was erupting. Ordinarily, the "lesser" students would be assigned remote posts, but the war changed that. Custer was sent immediately into the field with the 2nd Cavalry and fought at the first Battle at Manassas (July 21). Custer eventually, through daring - some would say reckless - actions, came to the attention of McClellan, who added Custer to his staff. When McClellan was removed from command a few months later, Custer was attached to Pleasonton's staff. It was here that he "developed" his penchant for showy uniforms and learned much about military politics. Although some men were "put off" by this "flash," Custer produced results, earning him the respect, sometimes grudging, of many. It was through daring battlefield maneuvers that he earned a brevet brigadier generalcy - the youngest Brig. General in the war at the time.

He remained in the Army after the Civil War - a soldier is what he wanted to be since childhood - reverting to rank of captain. In 1866 he was offered the lieutenant colonelcy of the newly formed 7th Cavalry, the unit he would lead for a decade until his death at the Little Big Horn River.

Condition:Document is toned, with light are lower left where something about the size of a business card protected the paper for a time. One leaf on the upper right frame is missing a tip.

Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$588
06/11/2010

 

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