Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives. Posted by
Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Two years before the Civil War would end, and more than a half-century before even rudimentary color photography became possible, these nine men (and one dog!) assembled for a group picture.
The Civil War was perhaps the darkest stain in the history of the United States since it started in 1776. Many of the southern United States had formed their own coalition known as the Confederate States of America, hoping to secede from the Union to form their own country. The north was naturally displeased, especially as the south had wanted more abilities for states to decide their own laws, which included maintaining the legalization of slavery. Once Abraham Lincoln had become the United States President, the south was ready to put their plan into action, kicking off the war in 1861.
The Civil War created some very memorable and interesting names that have held up throughout history as certain members of the military really stood out. Not only was Lincoln heavily involved in forming what would become modern America, but Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee also became household names that almost every American knows today. Another name that people know quite well is George Armstrong Custer, who was a truly fascinating person.
The Civil War officially began just one month following Lincoln’s inauguration because of an attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina by the Confederates in the early hours of the morning on April 12, 1861. Lincoln started to gather his troops in the days that followed, knowing that there would be a war coming. During this formation, Lincoln had appointed Robert E. Lee as the leader of the Union Army, though he declined and eventually headed south after several of the states, including his home state of Virginia, had seceded.
At the same time, George Armstrong Custer had graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He didn’t graduate by much, though, finishing dead last in his class that had 34 cadets. It would’ve been lower if he had graduated with his originally intended class, but many of them had already left to join the Confederacy or left because of their grades. Custer was disciplined more than just about any other cadet to ever come through West Point, and it’s likely that he wouldn’t have been absorbed by the military if it weren’t for the fact that all able and trained bodies were needed for the Union Army in the Civil War.
In the first few months of the war, Custer had made his way to Washington, D.C. where he trained volunteer soldiers to prepare for battle. Custer became part of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment and was thrown into the war when he was involved with the First Battle of Bull Run where the Union had suffered a defeat. Heading back to Washington, Custer spent some time recovering from an illness before getting back into battle.
As the battling in 1862 raged on, Custer had fought in several battles where Custer showed that despite having a blasse and sometimes cavalier attitude, he was capable as a soldier. Some of Custer’s more memorable battles during this time included South Mountain and Antietam, earning himself some recognition from his superiors. For some, it was hard to believe that this near-failure at the Academy was doing so well on the battlefields.
During that first year in the war, this photograph was taken. Though you probably know Custer’s name, you might not know what he looks like. After hearing a little bit about him, you could probably guess that he’s the man in the front that looks completely relaxed while petting a dog. The photo comes from May 20 of that year, when Custer was a lieutenant and an up and comer for the Union. The other subjects in the photograph came from the staff of General Fitz-John Porter while the men were all in Virginia.
Just two weeks after this photo was taken, Custer received a promotion when he was named captain, but was back to being a lieutenant a little more than a month later. Custer was undeterred by the reversion of his rank and continued to forge on in the Civil War. The following summer, Custer got his big break in his military career when he came across Alfred Pleasonton, a high ranking officer that worked closely with Custer.
Pleasanton became the Major General of the volunteer soldiers in the war, and used his new position to promote those that were more willing to battle into positions of power rather than politicians that wanted nothing to do with the frontlines. This gave Custer the chance to be a general for the first time, leading the Michigan Cavalry Brigade at just 23 years old. The young hotshot was perhaps thrust into a position of power perhaps a bit too early as some described him as being reckless. He and his group had become involved in many battles in the subsequent months, with Custer’s unique form of leadership actually coming into handy more often than not.
The war continued through the rest of 1863 and in the few following years, with Custer continuing to rise up the ranks. Eventually he became the Brevet Major General of the entire United States Army in 1865. This would be the same year that the Civil War came to an end as Custer’s men had defeated the Army of Northern Virginia, one of the last strongholds of the Confederates. Other Confederates had surrendered in the months that remained throughout the years, with the war officially coming to an end in August of 1866.
As for Custer, he remained with the military for the rest of his life. The American Indian Wars had been ongoing for many, many years and came back into focus following the Civil War. Custer led his troops into the Battle of Little Bighorn that many refer to as “Custer’s Last Stand,” as Custer had passed away in battle at the age of 36 on June 25, 1876. As for his legacy, almost everyone knows who Custer was, but aren’t really sure exactly what to think of the man.
Even hearing him speak, it’s hard to pick up a beat on Custer. “You ask me if I will not be glad when the last battle is fought,” Custer said. “So far as the country is concerned I, of course, must with for peace, and will be glad when the war is ended. But if I answer for myself alone, I must say that I shall regret to see the war end.”