First Man in History to Receive Two Medals of Honor – In the Same Week!!

1 Comment

This is from War History OnLine.


Thomas Ward Custer (March 15, 1845 – June 25, 1876) was a United States Army officer and two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor for bravery during the American Civil War. He was a younger brother of George Armstrong Custer, perishing with him at Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory.

He was born in New Rumley, Ohio, the third son of Emanuel and Marie Custer. He enlisted in the Union Army, in September 1861, at age 16, and served in the early campaigns of the Civil War as a private in the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He saw action at numerous battles, including Stones River, Missionary Ridge and the Atlanta Campaign. He mustered out in October 1864 as a corporal. Commissioned a second lieutenant in Company B of the 6th Michigan Cavalry, he became his brother’s aide-de-camp and accompanied him throughout the last year of the war.

Tom Custer distinguished himself by winning successively the brevets of captain, major, and lieutenant colonel, although he was barely 20 years of age when the Civil War ended. He was awarded two Medals of Honor. He was the first soldier to receive the dual honor, one of only four soldiers or sailors to receive the dual honor during the Civil War, and one of just 19 in history.

Medals of Honor
Both actions that earned Custer the Medal of Honor involved capturing Confederate regimental flags (2nd North Carolina Cavalry flag at Namozine Church on April 3, 1865, and again at Sayler’s Creek on April 6, 1865). Such battle flags “denoted individual persons, or units, on the field of battle. The flag symbolized the honor of the regiment…In combat, with the field full of noise and smoke, the soldiers watched their regimental flag and if it advanced or retreated they followed. The names of the battles that the regiment participated in were sometimes stitched onto the flag. The loss of a regimental flag was a disgrace to the command.”


First Award
Custer earned his first Medal of Honor for actions during the Battle of Namozine Church, April 3, 1865. Among Union forces charging Confederate barricades, Custer had his horse leap a barricade while coming under fire. The Confederates fell back in confusion before him, while he saw a color bearer. Racing forward he seized the flag of the Second North Carolina cavalry from the bearer and commanded those around him to surrender. He took three officers and eleven enlisted men prisoner, took them behind the federal column and requisitioned another horse as his had been shot in the charge.

Union Cavalry Charge, New Market, VA

Union Cavalry Charge, New Market, VA

Second Award
Similar actions in the Battle of Sayler’s Creek resulted in Custer being the first American soldier to receive two Medals of Honor. Riding alongside Colonel Charles E. Capehart when the command to charge was given, he raced his horse toward the enemy barricades through a line of rifle fire, then leapt the barricade to be surrounded by the enemy. He discharged his pistol to both sides, scattering the enemy. He noticed Confederates attempting to make a new battleline and saw the color bearer they were rallying to.

Custer charged the bearer. Colonel Capehart reported the rest of the events in a letter to Libbie Custer:

“I saw your brother capture his second flag. It was in a charge made by my brigade at Sailor’s Creek, Virginia, against General Ewell’s Corps. Having crossed the line of temporary works in the flank road, we were confronted by a supporting line. It was from the second line that he wrested the colors, single-handed, and only a few paces to my right. As he approached the colors he received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse, but in a moment he was upright in his saddle. Reaching out his right arm, he grasped the flag while the color bearer reeled. The bullet from Tom’s revolver must have pierced his heart. As he was falling Captain Custer wrenched the standard from his grasp and bore it away in triumph.”
— Colonel Capehart
Pictures taken shortly after the battle show a scar “with minor soft tissue damage to his lower jaw extending to a point just below the right ear”; though the wound to Tom’s face was across blood rich tissue and covered him in his own blood, had the bullet gone through the mouth or the soft tissue of the neck it would have likely struck a major vessel and have caused him to bleed to death. Having captured the flag Custer held it aloft and rode back to the Union column. An officer of the Third New Jersey cavalry, seeing Custer ride back with the banner flapping, tried to warn him that he might be shot by his own side: “For God’s sake, Tom, furl that flag or they’ll fire on you!” Custer ignored him and kept riding towards his brother Armstrong’s personal battle flag and handed the captured flag to one of Armstrong’s aides while declaring, “Armstrong, the damned rebels shot me, but I’ve got my flag.” Custer then turned his horse to rejoin the battle, but Armstrong (who had only seconds before seen another of his aides be shot in the face and fall from his horse dead) ordered Custer to report to the surgeon. Tom ignored the order and his brother placed him under arrest, ordering him to the rear under guard.

Date of actions
Until 1948, official references for the date of actions for which Thomas Custer was awarded the Medal of Honor were listed as April 2 and 6, 1865. However, that year a U.S. Army book on Medal of Honor citations listed the dates as May 11, 1863, and April 6, 1865. Consolidated lists of all Medal of Honor citations were published by the U.S. Senate in 1963, 1973, and 1979 with the incorrect first date of May 11, 1863 and in 1963 and 1973 with the correct second date of April 6, 1865. The 1979 edition published the second date as April, 1865, and this would seem to be why the online Army Medal of Honor citations at United States Army Center of Military History has two incorrect dates. The Civil War Army recipient that follows Thomas Custer alphabetically is Byron Cutcheon whose date of action was May 10, 1863, which may explain how the first date for Thomas Custer appeared as May 10, 1863.

Indian Wars
Following the war, Custer was appointed first lieutenant in the 7th Cavalry in 1866. He was wounded in the Washita campaign of the Indian Wars, in 1868. He later served on Reconstruction duty in South Carolina and participated in the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873, where he fought in the Battle of Honsinger Bluff, and the Black Hills Expedition of 1874. He was appointed captain in 1875 and given command of Company C of the 7th Cavalry. In 1874, at the trading post at Standing Rock Agency, Custer participated in the arrest of the Lakota Rain-in-the-Face for the 1873 murder of Dr. John Honsinger.

During the 1876 Little Bighorn campaign of the Black Hills War, he served as aide-de-camp to Lt. Col. George A. Custer and died with his brother on June 25, 1876. Lt. Henry Harrington actually led Company C during the battle. Younger brother Boston Custer also died in the fighting, as did other Custer relatives and friends. It was widely rumored that Rain-in-the-Face, who had escaped from captivity and was a participant at the Little Bighorn, cut out Tom Custer’s heart after the battle; though the chief later denied it during an interview. Custer’s remains were identified by a recognizable tattoo of his initials on his arm.


Tom Custer was buried on the battlefield, but exhumed the next year and reburied in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. A stone memorial slab marks the place where his body was discovered and initially buried.

In November 1868, following the Battle of Washita River, George Custer was alleged (by Captain Frederick Benteen, chief of scouts Ben Clark, and Cheyenne oral tradition) to have unofficially married Mo-nah-se-tah, daughter of the Cheyenne chief Little Rock in the winter or early spring of 1868–1869. (Little Rock was killed in the Washita battle.) Mo-nah-se-tah gave birth to a child in January 1869, two months after the Washita battle. Cheyenne oral history tells that she also bore a second child, fathered by Custer in late 1869. Some historians, however, believe that George Custer had become sterile after contracting gonorrhea while at West Point and that the father was, in actuality, his brother Thomas. A descendant of the second child, who goes by the name Gail Custer, wrote a book about the affair

Sources 1,2,3


10 Strange Facts About Famous Historical Villains

Leave a comment

This is from ListVerse.

I knew about Capone’s soup kitchens during The Depression.

I knew about Custer having a child with an Indian woman.

In spite of the headline I do not consider George Armstrong Custer a villain, but a soldier doing his job.

Many times, history only allows certain facts about people to be remembered. This is quite common for villains and criminals because of their heinous acts. But often, whether it was habits in their personal lives or things they created, they did much more than that for which they are remembered.

10 Billy The Kid Was Almost Pardoned


Photo via Wikimedia

At just 19 years old, William Henry McCarty Jr., aka “Billy the Kid,” had already achieved national infamy as one of the most well-known outlaws of the day. But by 1878, tired of his life of crime, he wrote to the newly appointed governor of New Mexico, Lew Wallace, that he was tired of fighting.

In response, Wallace suggested that he would pardon Billy if he would testify before a grand jury about the Lincoln County War, a frontier conflict between two factions of New Mexico. Wallace had been appointed governor of New Mexico because of the Lincoln County War and, in an effort to end the violence, had offered amnesty to anyone involved. Billy turned himself in, testifying as promised, but Wallace refused to pardon him.

None of those who came forward were given amnesty. In fact, Billy’s testimony helped over 50 men get charged. Billy escaped from confinement, embarking on his famous crime spree and prompting Wallace to offer a $500 reward for Billy’s capture. While being chased by the authorities, Billy murdered more people. In April 1881, he was finally captured, tried, and sentenced to hang. Billy made a daring escape, killing two guards as he fled. He was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in July 1881.

Interestingly, in 2002, newly elected Governor Bill Richardson announced that he was looking into a posthumous pardon for Billy, 129 years after his death. A self-proclaimed history buff, Richardson began looking into the letters exchanged between Wallace and Billy. The descendants of Garrett and Wallace both say that Wallace had no intention of giving Billy a pardon. Others disagree. Finally, Richardson announced that he would not pardon Billy due to insufficient evidence.

9 Al Capone Started One Of The First Soup Kitchens


Photo credit: Chicago Bureau (FBI)

During the Great Depression and before the New Deal programs established by President Franklin Roosevelt, many unemployed citizens of America had nowhere to go when they were starving. However, churches, the wealthy, and other organizations established soup kitchens to help out. In Chicago, Al Capone established one such soup kitchen.

During Prohibition and the Great Depression, many people hated the government. However, public opinion of bootleggers like Capone was high. His donations to charity and his establishment of a soup kitchen only made him more popular.

In 1931, the Chicago Tribune proclaimed that “120,000 meals are served by Capone Free Soup Kitchen,” cementing Capone’s status as a “Robin Hood.” Many of those served by Capone said that he was doing more for the poor than the government. Capone played up his status as a good citizen by offering them jobs (with his front business, of course) and feeding over 5,000 men, women, and children on Thanksgiving Day in 1930.

Despite being arrested and placed in prison, Capone kept the soup kitchen open. The building that housed the kitchen was demolished in the 1950s and is now a parking lot.

8 Osama bin Laden Had An Extensive Collection Of Pornography


Photo credit: US Federal Government

After the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, books and computer files—including some containing pornography—were discovered in the compound where he had been hiding. This was a surprise considering bin Laden had long denounced the West for its obsession with sexuality.

Bin Laden was 54 and living with three wives at the time he was killed. He had often complained about America’s exploitation of women. “Your nation exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools, calling upon customers to purchase them,” he once said.

While it is not known whether the pornography belonged to bin Laden or to other men in the compound, it’s telling of the behavior of those who were in hiding. Despite their extremism when it came to “Western decadence,” they still had the same desires as most other men. The content of the pornography has not been declassified. According to a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence, these materials won’t be released because of the nature of the content.

7 Custer Had A Love Child With A Cheyenne Mistress


Photo credit: Library of Congress

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer will always be remembered for his defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. But research by historians has shown that he may have had a relationship with a Cheyenne woman, resulting in an illegitimate son, despite his being married. This fact escaped history but was recently unearthed by researchers who were looking into his life.

After the 1868 Washita River Massacre, Custer captured numerous women and children, making them prisoners of war. One of them was a Cheyenne woman, Meotzi, who became his interpreter despite her inability to speak English. Meotzi was a beautiful woman and Custer began to court her. She considered him her husband, becoming pregnant by him. Meotzi’s child was named Yellow Swallow because of his blond hair, a trait he no doubt inherited from his father.

In 1869, Custer made peace with the Cheyenne Indians. He left Meotzi but promised to return. However, Custer and his men were killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Custer was spared the mutilation of his men because he was recognized by the Cheyenne Indians as the husband of one of their own.

6Ted Kaczynski Wanted A Sex Change


Photo credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, is no longer a threat because he’s in prison for the rest of his life. But during the time he was free, he did much damage against society. He was a social critic and mathematical genius. But what finally made Kaczynski attack and harm people?

According to him, it happened after a psychiatric visit when he was experiencing the desire to have a male-to-female operation. “Just then there came a major turning point in my life,” he said. “Like a Phoenix, I burst from the ashes of my despair to a glorious new hope. I thought I wanted to kill that psychiatrist because the future looked utterly empty to me.”

Kaczynski had been experiencing issues with gender identity. Compounded with his other mental issues, that must have made him a very unstable man. When he lost the nerve to tell his psychiatrist about his problems, he decided to isolate himself from society. From there, he began to work on his twisted ideology, ultimately deciding that he would have to bomb buildings to get his message out. He began an 18-year crime spree to bomb and attack society until people would listen to his demands.

5 Richard III Was Not A Hunchback


Photo via Wikimedia

In nearly every portrayal of the famed King Richard III, he is shown to be severely deformed in his back. However, in 2012, the skeleton of Richard III was discovered buried beneath a Leicester parking lot. When the body was uncovered, Richard’s spine was examined. It was indeed very bent. He suffered from a particularly severe form of scoliosis, a disease which causes the spine to curve.

In 2014, the University of Leicester used CT scans of Richard’s spine and the rest of his body to produce a 3-D model of what Richard III may have looked like. What they found was a reasonably normal-looking man despite his dramatic scoliosis.

Being a royal, Richard III could have easily afforded a tailor to make his clotheshide any deformities. However, the reason his scoliosis wasn’t so bad was because the bones of his spine were well-balanced. He was left short by a few centimeters, but only his insiders would have known about his deformity. According to most accounts written while he was alive, he was “of person and bodily shape comely enough.”

4 Jeffrey Dahmer May Have Been A Born-Again Christian

Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the most infamous serial killers in American history, but his story took a strange turn after he went to prison. In the months before he was killed in 1994, Dahmer became increasingly interested in the idea of salvation. We’ll never know whether his intentions were sincere.

However, Curt Booth, a prison minister who visited Dahmer frequently, believes he was sincere. Booth said that Dahmer had come to him, expressing regret for what he had done and requesting a Bible course.

After he completed the course, Dahmer requested to be baptized. But he was concerned that no minister would want to do so. Booth contacted Reverend Roy Ratcliff to make the proper arrangements.

After his baptism, Dahmer received more Bible courses, which he distributed to other inmates, from minister David Hartman. During his correspondence with Hartman, Dahmer ominously mentioned a July 1994 attack on his life. The letter foreshadowed his murder in November of that year.

3 Fidel Castro Trafficked In Cocaine During The 1980s


Photo credit: Agencia Brasil

Although Fidel Castro may have talked like he was against drugs in his country, he knew that they made an astronomical amount of money. During the 1980s, many of the Soviet countries that supported Cuba were struggling. As his country could barely stay afloat under these conditions, Castro allowed Cuba to be used to funnel drugs into the US.

According to the CIA, Castro accepted cocaine as payment for weapons smuggled to Colombian Marxist guerrillas. Then Castro would have the cocaine distributed to America, using the profits to help keep Cuba afloat. “Castro saw it as a money-earning transaction for Cuba’s national security,” said a former CIA agent.

When the DEA videotaped a sting operation, Cuban-American cocaine trafficker Reinaldo Ruiz bragged that he was shipping cocaine through Cuba. “The money that was paid to Fidel is in the drawer,” he said. Cuban officials accused Ruiz of lying.

After the Iran-Contra affair, the CIA initially made plans to stop cocaine trafficking in Cuba but dropped them in 1989. General Jose Abrantes, who was involved in the trafficking, was going to be kidnapped by the CIA. But he was jailed and died of an apparent heart attack instead. Soon afterward, Castro washed his hands of the affair, conducting a show trial for the world of several high-ranking generals who were ultimately punished for trafficking cocaine.

2 Kim Jong Il Was An Opera Impresario


Photo credit: Joseph Ferris III

Before taking over North Korea in 1994, Kim Jong Il was credited with staging the opera Sea of Blood, based on a book written by his father, Kim Il Sung. Premiering in 1971 in Pyongyang, the opera was highly successful. In fact, the touring company was named “Sea of Blood.”

The oppressive nature of the North Korean government is well known, so it might seem that the opera was praised because it was written by the leader of North Korea. But it actually has its merits. When the opera company staged the Chinese drama Dream of the Red Chamber in Beijing in 2010, it received wide acclaim by both Chinese and Western critics. When the company was asked about their success, they responded, “We took the guidance and suggestions of our Dear Leader.”

Kim Jong Il was trained in theater, music, and film. He focused on North Korea’s film industry while his father was dictator. After successfully managing films, Kim Jong Il moved on to opera, staging Sea of Blood. He went on to produce and stage Dream of the Red Chamber and Eugene Onegin. It seems odd that an artsy type like Kim Jong Il would simultaneously starve and enslave his people while staging spectacular musical productions.

1 Saddam Hussein Was A Novelist


Photo credit: The New York Times

Saddam Hussein may have been one of the most brutal dictators in history, but he was also a man of letters. In 2000, Zabibah and the King was published in Iraq, becoming an instant best seller. Of course, seeing as it was written by their ruler Saddam Hussein, his people bought the book.

When it was first published, Hussein remained anonymous, with the book credited to “he who wrote it.” The book was a metaphor about a medieval Iraqi king (Hussein), his romance with commoner Zabibah (the people), and a conflict with a brutal man who rapes her (the US). It covered politics, romance, and even bestiality.

According to the CIA, the book was ghostwritten. But after Zabibah and the King was published, the same anonymous author wrote another romantic novel, The Impenetrable Fortress. Like the first book, this novel became a best seller.

Hussein published two more novels before he was forced to go into hiding. Even when he had clearly lost control of Iraq, he wrote another novel and some poetry. He continued like this until his execution in 2004.


%d bloggers like this: