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Custer's Court Martial

  • Conflict:   Civil War
  • Records:   19
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Custer's Court Martial

Overview Description

In 1867, George Armstrong Custer faced court martial on eleven charges, including absence without leave from his command, and conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. Found guilty of five of the charges, he was suspended from rank and command for one year without pay. Records here include proceedings of Custer's trial, correspondence relating to official trial documents, and research requests from after the trial.

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Pictures & Records

Page 1 of Custer's 45 page written defense Sherman's request to have Custer's sentence remitted Sample Sample


Publication Title:
Custer's Court Martial
Content Source:
The National Archives logo The National Archives
Publication Number:
Record Group:
Published on Fold3:
Last Update:
July 25, 2007
NARA T1103. This 352-page publication contains documents relating to the 1867 court martial of George Armstrong Custer at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.


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Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer, Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th US Cavalry, was brought before a military court in September 1867, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to face charges of "absence without leave from his command," and "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline." Within each charge are specifications for which he was found guilty on most counts.

Custer was "suspended from rank and command for one year," and required to "forfeit his pay proper for the same time." The remainder of his sentence was remitted.

The photo to the right is of General George A Custer, available here at Fold3 in the Mathew B Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs.

Contents of Custer Court Martial records, T1103

Court Documents

Special Order: Dated 27 August 1867, details those who will sit at trail, and a start date of 15 September 1867 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The handwritten version is on page 7 under Proceedings.

Proceedings: Trial documentation and process (186 pages).

Custer's Written Defense: "To this I invite your earnest and most patient attention," begins Custer, in his 45-page defense document, submitted at the conclusion of testimony.

Judge Advocate's Response

Verdict: Custer is found guilty of several specifications within the two charges and sentenced "to be suspended from rank and command for one year, and forfeit his pay proper for the same time."

Miscellaneous: 39 pages of records pertaining to the trial.

Summary Report: Proceedings are summarized in this 24-page report, dated 8 November 1867.

Remittance Documents

Telegraph from William T Sherman, 23 September 1868, approving Custer's restoration to duty, at the request of General Sheridan.

Letters from the Adjutant General's Office

Research Requests: Included in this title are requests by eight individuals for information or material pertaining to the Custer court martial.

Related Resources

George Armstrong Custer Court-Martial: 1867 - The court-martial, The Aftermath, at

Published just a month before Custer's court martial, this page from the  August 3, 1867, edition of Harper's Weekly illustrates Custer's encounters with Native American Sioux. It's available through the "History of the American West, 1860-1920: Photographs from the Collection of the Denver Public Library," within the American Memory pages on the Library of Congress website.


General Court Martial of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, 1867. Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army), Record Group 153, Publication Number T1103; National Archives, Washington.

How do you find out who lived through the battle of Custers last stand.

I would be very interested to know about any survivors of Custers last stand, also. Maybe a soldier that was over in the bushes or something?

Popular and respected author Nathaniel Philbrick recently published "The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn."