Medal of Honor citation: Thomas Custer
This week we visit an awardee of the MoH who seemingly got lost in his more famous brothers shadow – even though our man was decorated with the award TWICE. I hope his story inspires each of you to greater heights, no matter what shadow may loom near, or over, you. My special thanks this week to C. Douglas Sterner and the Home of Heroes web site. I encourage all to visit the Wiki on this man as well at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Custer
Make the most of your day!
Our man’s first awarded action came at the battle around Namozine Church in Willicomack, Virginia on April 3, 1865, where Lieutenant Thomas Ward Custer of the 6th Michigan Cavalry was cited for capturing the Confederate Flag. His citation is scant – as many of them are from the early days of the award – and one immediately notices the incorrect date of action. (See his Wiki for more on that.)
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company B, 6th Michigan Cavalry. Place and date: At Namozine Church, Va., 10 May 1863. Entered service at: Monroe, Mich. Birth: New Rumley, Ohio, 25 June 1845. Date of issue: 3 May 1865.
Capture of flag on 10 May 1863.
There were sixty Medals of Honor awarded for actions in the battle that raged at Deatonsville (Sailor’s Creek), Virginia, during the period March 29 to April 6, 1865. Fifty-seven of these awards were for actions on April 6 alone; forty-seven of them for the capture of flags of the Confederate Army.
After capturing a Confederate flag 3 days earlier, Lieutenant Thomas Custer was eager to repeat his feat. As a member of General Capehart’s 3d Brigade, 3d Division in the attack at Sailor’s Creek, Thomas Custer crossed the line of temporary works on the flank of a road where his unit was confronted by a supporting battle-line. In the second line Custer wrested the colors from an enemy color bearer. Advancing on another standard he received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse. Despite his wounds, he continued his assault on the second color bearer who began to fall from wounds he had also received. As he fell, the wounded Lieutenant Custer reached out to grasp this second standard of colors, bearing both off in triumph. “For intrepidity I never saw this incident surpassed.” later wrote General Capehart. “It was a great wonder he escaped with his life. Tom, on that day, fought like a lion.”
Again, his actual citation is scant:
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company B, 6th Michigan Cavalry. Place and date: At Sailor Creek , Va, 6 April 1865. Entered service at: Monroe, Mich. Birth: New Rumley, Ohio, 25 June 1845. Date of issue: 26 May 1865.
2d Lt. Custer leaped his horse over the enemy’s works and captured 2 stands of colors, having his horse shot from under him and receiving a severe wound.
Lt. Thomas Custer, the younger brother of General George Armstrong Custer, was the ONLY man to receive TWO Medals of Honor in the Civil War (making him the first of 19 double recipients of the Medal of Honor). In both actions he was cited for capturing enemy flags; an ironic twist since his older brother, George, was the very first Union soldier to capture an enemy flag in the war (in 1862 as aide-de-camp to General McClellan).
After the war Tom Custer served under his brother George in the West and died with him at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, along with their younger brother, Boston.