George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) was a flamboyant figure in American military history. After serving with distinction for the Union in the Civil War, he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Seventh Cavalry in 1866. Accused of being absent from duty during the cavalry’s failed campaign against the Southern Cheyenne, he was court-martialed and suspended from duty. Nonetheless, he eventually convinced his superiors that he had been unfairly made a scapegoat and returned to duty in 1868. In 1876, he was sent with two other generals to defeat the Lakota and Cheyenne population. In this campaign, a series of serious miscalculations led to one of the worst fiascos in American military history, the Battle of Little Bighorn, in which the Native tribes encircled his unit and killed 210 army troops, including Custer himself. The image of Custer as a brave and brilliant military leader during that battle held sway in the popular imagination of the public for years afterwards, partly fostered by the efforts of his widow.
John M. Carroll (active c. 1970s to 1990s) devoted himself to studying George Armstrong Custer’s life. He edited and published over 100 books and papers relating to Custer, collected various Custer memorabilia, and was an active member of the Little Big Horn Association. Carroll frequently employed the services of artists Lorence Bjorklund and D.D. Moore for illustrations for his books, including The Custer Autograph Album (1993) (shown below). Additional works by Carroll include Custer in Texas: an Interrupted Narative; The Benteen-Goldin Letters on Custer and his Last Battle (illustrations by Bjorklund); Custer in the Civil War his Unfinished Memoirs; General George Armstrong Custer 1981 Historical Calendar (illustrations by Bjorklund). This offered illustration by Moore is from Carroll’s estate.