George Armstrong Custer, known best for his “last stand” at Little Big Horn, was famously audacious in battle. However, what you might not know is that he had a little brother named Thomas Custer, who proved legendary in his own right.
The younger Custer is the subject of the latest in a series of graphic novels by the Association of the United States Army commemorating Medal of Honor recipients.
Thomas Custer was the first soldier in U.S. history to be given two Medals of Honor for two distinct and separate acts of valor.
During the Civil War, Custer was just 16 and lied about his age to enlist in the Union infantry before commissioning as a cavalry officer. He was awarded his first Medal of Honor for a charge led against an enemy barricade at the Battle of Namozine Church in Virginia.
On April 3, 1865, at just 20 years old, he took 14 prisoners and managed to snatch the Confederate flag from its holder’s hands — creating chaos for the enemy, according to Defense Department records.
A mere three days after, Custer captured two more flags during the Battle of Sailor’s Creek. As he led the charge, his horse was shot and killed from under him, but he kept going. He was wounded and taken to a local hospital, records indicate. This was the second campaign for which Custer was awarded the Medal of Honor, making him the first ever soldier to receive the military’s highest honor twice.
Throughout U.S. history, 19 total troops have received two Medals of Honor, according to the Defense Department.
The graphic novel centered on Custer marks the third of four that AUSA plans to release in 2022.
“These full-color digital books are created by a talented team of professionals drawn from the world of comic book industry, and the details are vetted by professional historians,” according to an AUSA press statement. “Each eight-page issue profiles a true American hero, bringing to life the daring deeds that distinguished themselves by gallantry in action ‘above and beyond the call of duty.’”
AUSA has been releasing these books for nearly four years.
“The series started in October 2018 with the release of Medal of Honor: Alvin York to commemorate the centennial of York’s heroic actions in World War I,” the release noted. “To date, fourteen issues have been published, commemorating such heroes as Audie Murphy, Mary Walker, Daniel Inouye, Henry Johnson, and Roy Benavidez.”
To read Medal of Honor: Tom Custer online or download a copy, you can visit www.ausa.org/custer.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.