Thomas Custer
March 15, 1845(1845-03-15) – July 24, 1929(1929-07-24) (aged 84)
Place of birth New Rumley, Ohio, U.S.
Place of death Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Resting place Wilmington National Cemetary
Allegiance US flag 36 stars United States
Service/branch Flag of the United States Army United States Army
Years of service 1861–1921
Rank US Army General of the Armies Insignia (1872-1921) General of the Armies
Battles/wars Confederate War of Independence
Kentucky War
World War I
Awards Medal of Honor (2)

Thomas Custer (March 15, 1845 – July 24, 1929) is a famed U.S. Army general who is best known for being the first American officer to utilize the potential of tanks in combat. He is the brother of Major General George A. Custer, who was killed during the Kentucky War.

Custer began his military service in 1861 during the early stages of the Confederate War of Independence as an enlisted soldier. He was placed in the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was seen in multiple battles during the Chattanooga Campaign and was relocated to New York City, and later Philadelphia, to subdue the violent Draft Riots. He was discharged in 1864 as a corporal. He was later commissioned a second lieutenant in the 6th Michigan Cavalry and became an aide to his older brother.

During the Kentucky War, his regiment was fighting off British and Canadian troops from the north and Thomas quickly rose through the military ranks. In 1886 at the Battle of Bottineau in Dakota, his brother was killed in action. Then-Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Custer took over his position was promoted to the rank of Colonel. By the end of the war, Custer had attained the rank of Brigadier General due to his experience and leading one of the few victories during the war.

During the peace period between the Kentucky War and World War I, Custer became friends with Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in 1894. Moltke and Custer were fairly fond of each other and both were known to plan out battle tactics in case of a war with the Confederates, the French and the British.

Once Confederate President Woodrow Wilson declared war on the United States in December of 1914, Custer was tasked with taking the city of Louisville and drive through Kentucky into Georgia. Lieutenant General Custer was regarded as being overly-confident and failed miserably at the hands of the aging General J.E.B. Stuart during the opening stages of the war. It was initially proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt to replace Custer with Major General John J. Pershing, however a successful artillery bombardment into Clarksville in late 1915 successfully drove the Confederates back across the Ohio River.

Under Custer's command, the Confederates and Americans were fighting in a stalemate until September of 1916, when the general discovered the power of using tanks in combat. Custer launched the Louisville Tank Offensive and ultimately defeated Confederate forces in battle. Lieutenant General Hugh L. Scott, who had just replaced General Stuart, was completely caught off guard and retreated westwards to Lexington. Custer was promoted to the rank of General in November, and the public opinion of him shifted drastically. As other officers began to adopt his tactics with tanks, the war in North America began to fall in favor of the Americans. By June of 1917, the Confederates could not fight any more and surrendered. In celebration of the victory, Custer was promoted to General of the Armies.

Between 1917 and 1921, he served as the military governor of Canada and Newfoundland and was subject to several assassination attempts by Canadian nationalists. Custer was able to serve until 1921, when President Eugene V. Debs forced him to retire as part of his downsizing of the military.


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