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Brevet Rank of The American Civil War

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Definition of Brevet:  a former type of military commission conferred especially for outstanding service by which an officer was promoted to a higher rank without the corresponding pay.

Major General George Armstrong Custer
December 5, 1839- June 25, 1876

George Custer Military Ranks and Brevet Appointments:

 Brevet Appointment- Brig. General & Major General of Volunteers,

Regular Army Rank- Captain

George Armstrong Custer In The Civil War

A cavalry commander in the United States Army, Custer fought in both the Indian Wars as well as the Civil War. He was raised in Ohio and Michigan and West Point admitted in 1858. During the Civil War he gained a reputation that was strong because of whom he associated with. The Battle of Bull Run was his first major engagement. He had a temporary promotion to major general but returned to captain at the end of the war. He played an important role at Appomattox and was there when Robert E. Lee surrendered.

Young Hero

In the bloody war that divided his nation, Custer excelled. He seemed to demonstrate a streak of good fortune at avoiding injury, a gift that he came to call "Custer's luck."

His brilliance at directing cavalry actions at the Battle of Bull Run, his first battle, earned him recognition. The press gushed over the young brevet general who wore bright red neckties onto the battlefield. The New York Tribune wrote: "Future writers of fiction will find in Brigadier General Custer most of the qualities which go to make up a first-class hero."

On June 29, 1863 Custer was commissioned to brigadier general of volunteers and assigned to command a brigade in Kilpatrick’s division. While in this position he led his men in the Battle of Gettysburg where he assisted in preventing J.E.B. Stuart from attacking the Union rear.

He was known as "The Boy General," and his daring and bravery led him to stay in the thick of the fight until the war concluded. Its end, too, was owed in part to Custer, whose cavalry units were crucial in standing down Confederate General Robert E. Lee and forcing him to surrender at Appomattox, on April 9, 1865.

As a reward for his heroism, Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan, a huge Custer supporter, gave the young military hero the table used to sign the war's peace terms. With it he wrote a note to Custer's wife, Libbie, in praise of her husband. "Permit me to say, Madam," he wrote, "that there is scarcely an individual in our service who has contributed more to bring about this desirable result than your gallant husband."

Follow George Armstrong Custer as Brevet Brig. General and Regular Army Captain

  • Many times a brevet rank would be for the benefit of the service, and thus temporary.

  • A prime example of such is George Armstrong Custer.

  • Graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at the start of the Civil War, Custer was promoted to second Lieutenant.

  • During the war Custer was promoted to first lieutenant and captain in the regular army.

  • He also received brevet promoted temporarily as brigadier general and major general in both the regular army and the volunteers.

  • At the end of the war, in 1865, George Custer was a captain in the regular army, holding the brevet rank of major general - and at the same he was a brigadier general of volunteers and held the brevet rank of major general of volunteers

  • In 1866, after being mustered out of volunteer service, he reverted back to his permanent rank of captain.