Donald W Sherman, Jr.
General George A. Custer Camp #1, Wilmette, IL
Custer graduated from West Point in 1861 at the bottom of his class, but as the Civil War was just starting, trained officers were in immediate demand. He worked closely with General McClellan and the future General Pleasonton, both of whom recognized his qualities as a cavalry leader, and he was brevetted brigadier general of Volunteers at age 23. Only a few days after his promotion, he fought at Gettysburg, where he commanded the Michigan Cavalry Brigade and despite being outnumbered, defeated Jeb Stuart's attack at what is now known as the East Calvary Field. In 1864, Custer served in the Overland Campaign and in Sheridan's army in the Shenandoah Valley, defeating Jubal Early at Cedar Creek. His division blocked the Army of Northern Virginia's final retreat and received the first flag of truce from the Confederates, and Custer was present at Robert E. Lee's surrender to U.S. Grant at Appomattox.