July 01, 1875
The Brothers Custer – George and Tom - Sign Off on the Tobacco Allotment for the Enlisted Men Who Died With Them at Little Bighorn
Here, both George Armstrong Custer and his brother Tom – Colonel and Captain, respectively - certify that four non-commissioned officers of the 7th Cavalry have taken possession of a pound of tobacco each: a transaction worthy of official notice, inasmuch as tobacco served as an important medium of exchange - most particularly as gambling currency - in military life.
Tom, his big brother George liked to say, should have been the general – not he. Absolutely fearless, Tom Custer may have been the bravest man in the Union Army: in any case, he was the only soldier in the Civil War to have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice, for two separate actions. Indeed, he ended the war a Lieutenant Colonel – barely twenty years old.
Patrolling the Plains was, for the Custers, a frolic and a lark - right up to the moment on Last Stand Hill when, most likely, Tom shot his mortally-wounded brother through the temple, lest he be tortured to death. His own body, bristling with arrows, was found close by.
Document Signed, by both George A. and Thomas W. Custer (“G.A. Custer” and “T.W. Custer”) partially printed and accomplished in manuscript; 1 page, folio, Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory, July 1, 1875. Being the “Tobacco Return” for the Seventh Regiment of US Cavalry, for the month of July 1875.
Also bearing the signatures of WILLIAM WINER COOKE (1846 - 1876) - First Lieutenant, Staff; killed with Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn - and ALGERNON EMORY SMITH (1842 – 1876) - First Lieutenant, Company A, United States 7th Cavalry; killed with Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn