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    George Armstrong Custer Asks For Boston Custer's Commission in the 7th Cavalry. Autograph Letter Signed "G. A. Custer". Two pages, 8" x 10", Louisville, Kentucky, March 14, 1872, to Postmaster General John A. J. Creswell. In full: "My Dear Genl: I want to ask you a great favor of you. There are three or four vacancies in my regiment (7th Cavalry) in the grade of second lieutenant. These I presume will be filled by appointment- am extreme anxious to obtain an appointment from the Secretary of War for my youngest Brother Boston Custer as second lieutenant in the 7th Cavalry. My brother is in every respect admirably adapted to perform the duties of a cavalry officer. He is nearly twenty four years of age, of excellent habits and character and I trust would be a credit to the service. I would be under great obligation to you if you would address yourself in my behalf with Genl. Belknap and endeavor to secure this appointment. If you can ascertain anything definitely regarding the prospect of obtaining it, I would be glad to receive a line from you. I would write to Genl. Belknap but, to send through the regular channels would result in no benefit to my application considering delays &c. Hoping you may find it consistent to grant me this favor. I am truly yours, G. A. Custer USA Galt House." The docketing on the verso, in an unknown hand (possibly by Creswell), "Genl. G.A. Custer Louisville Ky. In relation to his brothers application for a Lieutenancy in the Army. Answered Mar. 27, 1872. No appointments now being made."

    Older brothers George and Tom became military officers during the Civil War. Boston Custer was unable to officially join the Army due to poor health. A civilian contractor, he served as forage master for his brother's U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment in the 1874 Black Hills expedition. He was employed as a guide, forager, packer and scout for the regiment during the 1876 expedition against the Lakota Indians. On June 25, along with his 18-year-old nephew Henry Armstrong "Autie" Reed, Boston Custer was with the pack train at the rear of Custer's troops. Hearing from a messenger that Lt. Col. Custer had requested ammunition for an impending fight, they abandoned the pack train and rushed to Custer's aid. The pair passed by Frederick Benteen's detachment and joined George Custer's main column as it moved into position to attack the Indian village along the Little Bighorn River. Had he stayed with the pack train, where he was assigned, Boston Custer may have survived the battle. However, Boston and Autie were killed at "Last Stand Hill."

    Belknap and Custer were adversaries. In March of 1876, Custer was called to testify in Congress regarding irregularities in the War Dapartment including the sale of post tradership. His testimony angered Secretary of War Belknap and Orville Grant (Ulysses' brother) so much that President Grant refused to allow Custer to return to his 7th Cavalry. Custer left by train to resume his command without authorization, but was arrested on arrival in Chicago on Grant's orders. Public opinion and the intervention of General Terry, persuaded the president to withdraw his blocking of Custer's participation in the Sioux campaign.

    Custer's 7th was desperately short of officers throughout his Indian campaign. The present offering addressing the matter and the request for his brother's assistance make this letter particularly significant. Archival tape to reinforce fold edges, partial separation at fold, integral leaf detached. Text is clean and crisp with a bold signature.




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    Auction Dates
    October, 2006
    12th-13th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
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