General Custer's Funeral At West Point

 

A common misconception is that General George Armstrong Custer is buried at the Little Big Horn Battlefield. Many believe that his marker there is his headstone or that he is buried under the US 7th Cavalry Monument atop Last Stand Hill. General Custer was initially hastily buried where his marker stands, two days after his death on June 25, 1876, but is now buried at the United States Military Academy.

General Custer was removed from his grave in the summer of 1877 and taken to a receiving vault in Poughkeepsie, New York. On October 10, 1877 General Custer’s remains were placed on a steamer and taken to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Thousands of people lined the route of the procession and stood in silence as it passed. Arriving at the Chapel late in the morning, General Custer lay in state until 2:00 pm when the funeral service began.

When the mourners began to enter, General Custer’s spouse Libbie was escorted in first by the Commandant of the post, Major-General John McAllister Schofield. General Custer’s father and sister were next. Other family members were next and close family friends followed next. The family and friends were seated on the right site of the aisle.

General Custer’s saber and helmet were placed on his coffin which was surrounded by flowers. At the foot of the coffin was a wreath that said "Seventh Cavalry" entwined with an American flag. A blue silk flag hung on the wall behind the coffin which in gold letters spelled out "God and Our Country".

The Chaplain of the post, Dr. John Forsyth, conducted the service. A choir of Cadets chanted the thirty-ninth and ninetieth psalms. After the service concluded a Cadet Honor Guard placed General Custer’s body onto the caisson. An impressive procession passed thousands of onlookers then proceeded to the cemetery at the north end of the post. Chaplain Forsyth completed the burial service after General Custer was lowered into his grave. Three hundred cadets fired three volleys over the grave concluding the service for the General who always led his men from the front, not ordering them forward from the rear.

Sadly the public is no longer allowed to visit the cemetery.

 

 

General Custer's grave is at the left. The above photo is a closeup of the brass plaque on the grave marker.

Garry Owen!

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