Custer State Memorial, New Rumley, Ohio

James N.

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#1
custer state memorial new rumley 001.jpg


Here on Dec. 5, 1839, in a large, rambling frame farmhouse George Armstrong Custer was born to village blacksmith Emmanuel Custer and his new wife Maria, both of whom had been previously widowed prior to their marriage. Other siblings followed, including brothers Nevin, Thomas, and Boston and sister Margaret; as well as older half-siblings like Lydia Ann Kirkpatrick. Armstrong or "Autie" as he was called by the family, was always headstrong and became the leader of his younger siblings; indeed, Tom would accompany him to the Civil War, winning TWO Medals of Honor in the process, and both Tom and Boston would die with him on Custer Hill, along with nephew Armstrong "Autie" Reed, son of Lydia Ann, and brother-in-law James "Jimmie" Calhoun, husband of Margaret. The lot the farmhouse once stood on is now the site of the small Ohio State Park, called Custer State Memorial. There is an informational kiosk, flagpoles displaying the U.S. and Custer's own personal flag, and a statue of Custer as Major General in the Civil War.

custer state memorial new rumley 002.jpg


The rather unimposing statue MAY be the original or a copy that once stood overlooking the Hudson River on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. If so, it wasn't any modern revisionist "political correctness" that caused its removal, though; instead it was the ire of Custer's long-lived widow Elizabeth Bacon "Libbie" Custer, who detested it! For over a half-century following the deaths of the Custer men at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25, 1876, she carefully protected his "image", both in writing and visually. Custer's remains were removed from the battlefield in 1877 to the military cemetery at West Point where Custer remained a revered national hero until after Libby's death in the 1930's. He only became "controversial" beginning in the cynical post-WWII years, likely after the creation of memorials like this one.

custer state memorial new rumley 003.jpg


When I visited here in 1994, New Rumley remained a hamlet with only a scattering of farmhouses and other vacant lots like this where the Custer House once stood. The nearby brick Lutheran Church is said to have been where the family worshiped and the adjoining cemetery contains the graves of some family members. The Custers are thought to have been of Dutch or more likely German descent, and a rumor was current that the original immigrant to the U.S. had been a "Hessian" soldier during the American Revolution who remained!

custer state memorial new rumley.jpg
 
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Custers Luck

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#2
Thanks for the post I enjoy seeing Custer,I think he was a great man, I do know Libbie wrote she really disliked the one at west point because she didn't feel the face was a good likeness of her husband.
 

James N.

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Thanks for the post I enjoy seeing Custer,I think he was a great man, I do know Libbie wrote she really disliked the one at west point because she didn't feel the face was a good likeness of her husband.
Yes, and I'm not sure THIS is the "offending" statue or not; unfortunately my photos aren't good enough to tell about the likeness either. You may be able to tell that at one time he was holding a sword at his side, but some jerk has broken off the blade!
 

Custers Luck

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#4
Yes, and I'm not sure THIS is the "offending" statue or not; unfortunately my photos aren't good enough to tell about the likeness either. You may be able to tell that at one time he was holding a sword at his side, but some jerk has broken off the blade!
I don't know either about the statue, I dont think Ive ever seen it, Libbie said it made him look really old looking. and that sucks someone took his sword!!!
 
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#5
"Custer's remains were removed from the battlefield in 1877 to the military cemetery at West Point where Custer remained a revered national hero until after Libby's death in the 1930's." IIRC Custer, as were the other officers, was buried in a shallow, but separate, grave on the hill side where he died. The enlisted men were buried in a similarly shallow, but mass, grave also on site. A year later, the Army sent a lieutenant and a small detail to bring Custer's body back to West Point for burial. The lieutenant did bring back some remains and therefore 'accomplished' his mission, but after a full year on the open prairie, it is high doubtful that any remains found on the site could be identified specifically as Custer's. I think the mission to retrieve the body was at the 'request' of Libby Custer, but on that I am not certain.
 

James N.

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IIRC Custer, as were the other officers, was buried in a shallow, but separate, grave on the hill side where he died. The enlisted men were buried in a similarly shallow, but mass, grave also on site. A year later, the Army sent a lieutenant and a small detail to bring Custer's body back to West Point for burial. The lieutenant did bring back some remains and therefore 'accomplished' his mission, but after a full year on the open prairie, it is high doubtful that any remains found on the site could be identified specifically as Custer's. I think the mission to retrieve the body was at the 'request' of Libby Custer, but on that I am not certain.
The original burial party was hampered by a lack of proper entrenching tools with which to work, and after a couple of days in the sun the bloated bodies were already beginning to decompose and gave off an awful stench. Regardless, every effort was made to identify and bury all the officers; Tom Custer was identified only by a tattoo, TC on one arm because of his severe mutilation. ( His face had been caved in and he was nude as were most including his brother. ) Irishman Capt. Myles Keogh was identified because of his name used as a laundrymark in his socks, all he was left wearing. Enlisted men were "buried" where they fell, usually only with handfuls of earth scooped up with canteen halves.

The party that arrived a year later retrieved the bones of the identified officers, all except for Lt. Sturgis whose family wished him to remain on the battlefield where he died. It was at that time that the bones of all the enlisted men were retrieved and buried on the hilltop in the mass grave where the memorial stands today. It's likely some of Custer and the others were left, but the party seems to have done pretty thorough work, and I believe it's likely that most of Custer was recovered. Following a fire that scoured the battlefield about 20 years ago, almost the entire skeleton of one trooper was discovered who had somehow been missed, so he was evidently buried reasonably well. A partial skeleton was also discovered that DNA tests proved to be that of Custer's chief of scouts, the half-blood Mitch Bouyer.

Edit: On the separate Reno-Benteen battlefield trenches had been dug and it wasn't until the NPS excavated them in the 1950's that another cavalryman's skeleton was unearthed. Of course the soldiers fighting there mostly survived and had longer to bury their dead; he was merely overlooked by the 1877 group who recovered the other dead from there to bury with Custer's atop Last Stand Hill.
 
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Custers Luck

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#10
I think alot of them got dug up by wolf and dragged around too, so that could account for part here and there.
 

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#11
west point custer.jpg

The Custers' graves in the West Point Cemetery next to the "Old Chappel" photographed in 1993 when you still had individual access to the campus and could go pretty much wherever you pleased prior to "9/11". ( Today group bus tours still come here but you have to join the group at the Visitor Center by the Main Gate and can no longer drive your own vehicle. ) The large monument is over George's remains; the flat slab in the foreground is Libby's from much later in the 1930's. The cemetery also contains the graves of many other notables of the Union from General Emiterus Winfield Scott to other pallidans like John Buford and Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.
 
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#12
I do not want to beat a dead horse to death, so to speak.....but it has been awhile since I read about Custer and this thread stirred up some nagging interest. The most recent book on Custer that I have read is Philbrick's work. I have also attempted to read Ambrose's book on Custer and Crazy Horse, but that book is like a grad school anthropology book, so I was eclectic with that one.

The main idea I took away from each of these books was that the Army at the request of Libby sent a detail to retrieve Custer's body a year after his death. Given the circumstances of his burial and the reality of both weather and scavengers on the prairie, the likelihood of actually recovering Custer was remote, but Miss Libby was not to be denied.

Doing some research on line this morning I found this:

"The body of George Armstrong Custer lies in the cemetery at the United States Military
Academy, West Point, New York. This statement, however, needs some clarification.
When
the remains of the fallen troopers of the 7th Cavalry were hastily
buried two days
after the battle
, Custer's body received the "best" burial possible
;
he was placed in a shallow
grave 18 inches
deep and covered with rocks and sagebrush. When the 1877 burial detail arrived
to gather the remains of the officers for shipment to family
and national cemeteries in the east, it
discovered a ghastly scene. The entire Last Stand Hill, along with the surrounding countryside,
was strewn with bones, both human and animal! The weather and various wild animals had
desecrated the pitiful graves and scattered the bones everywhere.
The empty shell casing with the name of "Geo. A. Custer" inside it was easily located.
However, there were numerous bones where the
grave had
once been. All of
these did not make
up a complete skeleton. A few handfuls of bones were gathered up, placed in a coffin, and labeled
as the mortal remains of George Armstrong Custer.
But were they? It is entirely possible (and also entirely logical) that this paltry gathering of
bones was not the remains of Custer at all; they may have been animal bones, bones of another
trooper, or possibly, they were Custer's.
When we say that Custer is buried
at West Point, we must honestly say that
, at best, he is
partially there, but
he may not be there at all
.
If interested this is a link to the information quoted above.........here.
 
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Custers Luck

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#13
View attachment 25279
The Custers' graves in the West Point Cemetery next to the "Old Chappel" photographed in 1993 when you still had individual access to the campus and could go pretty much wherever you pleased prior to "9/11". ( Today group bus tours still come here but you have to join the group at the Visitor Center by the Main Gate and can no longer drive your own vehicle. ) The large monument is over George's remains; the flat slab in the foreground is Libby's from much later in the 1930's. The cemetery also contains the graves of many other notables of the Union from General Emiterus Winfield Scott to other pallidans like John Buford and Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.
great photo, I always wonder how close Libbie was to him, guess it turn out pretty good for her that she got to be put to rest by him, wow she was 91 when she died. I"m glad she wrote her books as well, she told some pretty interesting story"s
 

Custers Luck

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#14
I do not want to beat a dead horse to death, so to speak.....but it has been awhile since I read about Custer and this thread stirred up some nagging interest. The most recent book on Custer that I have read is Philbrick's work. I have also attempted to read Ambrose's book on Custer and Crazy Horse, but that book is like a grad school anthropology book, so i was eclectic with that one.

The main idea I took away from each of these books was that the Army at the request of Libby sent a detail to retrieve Custer's body a year after his death. Given the circumstances of his burial and the reality of both weather and scavengers on the praiere, the likelyhood of actually recovering Custer was remote, but Miss Libby was not to be denied.

Do some research on line this morning I found this:

The body of George Armstrong Custer lies in the cemetery at the United States Military
Academy, West Point, New York. This statement, however, needs some clarification.
When
the remains of the fallen troopers of the 7th Cavalry were hastily
buried two days
after the battle
, Custer's body received the "best" burial possible
;
he w
as placed in a shallow
grave 18 inches
deep and covered with rocks and sagebrush. When the 1877 bur
ial detail arrived
to gather the remains of the officers for shipment to family
and national cemeteries in the e
ast, it
discovered a ghastly scene. The entire Last Stand Hill, along with the surrounding countryside,
was strewn with bones, both human a
nd an
imal! The weather and var
ious wild animals had
desecrated the pitiful graves and scattered the bones everywhere.
The empty shell casing with the name of "Geo. A. Custer" inside it was easily located.
However, there were numerous bones where the
grave had
once been. All of
these di
d not make
up a complete skele
ton. A few handfuls of bones were gathered up, placed in a coffin, and labeled
as the mortal remains of George Armstrong Custer.
But were they? It is entirely possible (and also entirely logical) tha
t this paltry gathering of
bones was not the remains of Custer at all; they may have been animal bones, bones of another
trooper, or possibly, they were Custer's.
When we say that Custer is buried
at West Point, we must honest
ly say that
, at best, he is
partially there, but
he may not be there at all
.
If interested this is a link to the information quoted above.........here.
Yup I have alot of books on Custer I like to read from the people who were there, and its amazing what you can really find out like that, some things they would not talk about because of Libbie, I guess they thought in time, but Libbie out lived them., If your interest In custer at the LBH read this...pie.midco.net/treasuredude/Peter_Thompson_Narrative.pdf
 
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James N.

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#16
I do not want to beat a dead horse to death, so to speak.....but it has been awhile since I read about Custer and this thread stirred up some nagging interest. The most recent book on Custer that I have read is Philbrick's work. I have also attempted to read Ambrose's book on Custer and Crazy Horse, but that book is like a grad school anthropology book, so I was eclectic with that one...

There has been SO much written about both Custer and his "Last Stand" that it's hard to know where to start, but I have a few suggestions: For Custer, the man, it's hard to imagine any biography that would surpass Robert M. Utley's 1988 Cavalier in Buckskin; Utley was for years the Chief Historian at Custer Battlefield/Little Bighorn National Monument so had a "special interest" in both the man and the period. Literature about the battle itself surpasses that of any other American conflict, including Gettysburg, much of it useless dreck by authors with either an axe to grind or seeking to make a quick buck on a "popular" subject about which they know little and care less. The best recent book is also probably the best I've ever read on the subject, A Terrible Glory by James Donovan; another called The Last Stand by Philbrick ( ? ) is also supposed to be good but I haven't read it. A reenacting friend of mine, Prof. Greg Urwin, as a young author wrote Custer Victorious that despite its admitted flaws probably remains the best study of Custer's Civil War career.
 
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ErnieMac

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#17
An 1879 photograph of the unveiling of the Custer Memorial at West Point was sold at auction a number of years ago. It's not the statue at New Rumley. From what I have read the West Point statue was removed in the 1880's and has not been seen publically since. http://www.cowanauctions.com/auctions/item.aspx?ItemId=69788

nn0570.jpg
 

Custers Luck

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#18

diane

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#19
I have a copy of Philbrick's "The Last Stand" - it's worth having! Always thought Custer got the dirty end of the stick for getting wiped out at the Little Big Horn - figured the press had to make him out a foolhardy man who got his troops killed through arrogance...or admit he'd been licked fair and square by some pretty good generals! My husband is related to both Crazy Horse and Custer - a fact I find hilarious!
 

Custers Luck

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#20
Lets see my favorite book ....The Custer Myth by W.A. Graham copyright 1953 He did an awesome job on this book lots of photos, told the Indians accounts, has the benteen and Goldin letters,lots of maps, told about a lot of things that went on that you dont find in the new books its based on facts. I bought this one used for $20. hard back
I just read that Philbrick book Its ok, it brought up some interesting things. But the writing of peter Thompson is about a 3 hour read and since he was there he answers a lot of questions!!!!!
 



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