Harry Armstrong (Autie) Reed

Harry Armstrong Reed was the nephew of General George Armstrong Custer. He was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, on June 25, 1876, with General Custer along with his other two uncles, Tom and Boston. Young Reed was a mere eighteen years old.

Harry was born April 27, 1858, at Monroe, Michigan, the only son of David and Lydia Custer Reed. He was the favorite nephew of General Custer and was often called "Autie" after his uncle. With his sister, Emma, he left Monroe in May 1876, traveling to Ft. Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory.

Autie joined the expedition to the Little Big Horn as a herder. His official assignment was to herd the cattle that fed the soldiers. He wrote to his parents in a letter dated June 10, in which he speaks of General Custer's command starting to find Indians. He stated that the herd had become so small it did not require much attention and he had obtained permission to travel with his uncle.

On June 25, 1876, Autie was with the baggage train when word came back that the unit was attacking. Custer's orderly John Burkman suggested that Reed stay with the pack train, to which Reed replied, "You're mad because you can't go along" and gave Burkman a taunting kick before riding off. Trooper Burkman had been ordered to stay behind by Custer. Autie immediately galloped forward to join the General in the attack. If Autie had stayed where he was assigned with the pack train, he would have surely survived the battle.

Autie was killed on Last Stand Hill. Like the others on the battlefield, a marble marker rests at the approximate place where his body was found. Though originally buried on the battlefield, Autie Reed's remains were exhumed, one of only two exceptions to the rule that only commissioned officers would be shipped home for reburial. He was reburied in 1878, at Woodland Cemetery in Monroe, Michigan, near today's Monroe County, Michigan Museum.

I discovered a macabre fact about young Autie Reed in March, 2009. His scalp, taken at the Battle of The Little Big Horn, is on display at the 'Museum of World Treasures' in Wichita, KS. If you desire to see a photo click here. A new window will open.

On June 5, 2010 I visited the Woodland Cemetery in Monroe, Michigan and have updated the photo portion of this page.

 

Autie Reed

LBH Marker

 

Autie Reed headstone

 

Boston Custer - Autie Reed marker

 

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