Original Oil Painting of George Armstrong Custer Painted by Noted Artist Llyod Branson - Inventory Number: PAI 021
Original oil on board painting by Lloyd Branson (American, 1853-1925), portrait of George Armstrong Custer. Lower right of the painting is inscribed "L. Branson from Photo taken 1864". George Armstrong Custer has been better known for his exploits after the Civil War than those during. However, his career in the Union army was a success due in large part to his dual characteristics of bravery and audacity. Described as aggressive, gallant, reckless, and foolhardy, Custer has become one of the most celebrated and controversial figures of the Civil War.
Custer had given Chaplain J.H. Frazee, 3rd New Jersey Cavalry, a CDV, when they were at Custer's Winter Headquarters' near Winchester, Virginia in 1864. About the time of Custer's death Frazee had Lloyd Branson, a Tennessee artist to do a painting from the CDV. The painting remained in the Frazee family until it was donated to GCHS in the 1930's by Frazee's sister-in-law who was the administrator of the Frazee Estate. It was later relegated to the attic of the GCHGS, until they decided to de-accession it. A portion of the original paper which backed the frame bears accession numbers and history. Housed in original frame with original bubble glass measures 19 3/4" x 23 3/8".
Enoch Lloyd Branson (1853–1925) was an American artist best known for his portraits of Southern politicians and depictions of early East Tennessee history. One of the most influential figures in Knoxville's early art circles, Branson received training at the National Academy of Design in the 1870s and subsequently toured the great art centers of Europe. After returning to Knoxville, he operated a portrait shop with photographer Frank McCrary. He was a mentor to fellow Knoxville artist Catherine Wiley, and is credited with discovering twentieth-century modernist Beauford Delaney.
His works include portraits of Brigadier General John Porter McCown, CSA, Ellen McClung Berry, Attorney Horace Maynard, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, Alvin C. York, and Captain James N. Williamson, CSA. It is said that Branson created near a thousand paintings in his lifetime. Several of his portraits are on exhibit at The Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Knoxville Museum of Art, the McClung Museum, Knoxville, and the East Tennessee History Center, Knoxville.
John H. Frazee:
Enlisted on 3/3/1864 as a Chaplain.
On 3/3/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff NJ 3rd Cavalry
He Resigned on 1/12/1865
NEW JERSEY 3rd CAVALRY (also known as the NJ 36th Infantry) A.K.A. Busby's Butterflies
Third Cavalry.-Cols., Andrew J. Morrison, Alexander G. M. Pennington, Jr.; Lieut.-Cols., Charles C. Suydam, William P. Robeson, Jr. Majs., Siegfried Von Forstner, S. V. C. Van Rensselaer, John V. Allstrom, Daniel R. Boice, Thomas K McClong, Ethan T. Harris. This regiment, also known as the 36th N. J. volunteers, was recruited during the winter of 1863-64, and was mustered into the U. S. service on Feb. 1O, 1864, as the "First United States Hussars," though the name was not long retained. It left Trenton on March 29, 1,200 strong, marching by way of Philadelphia and Wilmington to Perryville, Md., where it embarked on steamers and proceeded to Annapolis, being there attached to the 9th army corps. The enemy being gradually compelled to fall back before the operations of Grant, the regiment pushed forward with its brigade-3rd brigade 1st division, Cavalry corps-sharing in the operations at Ashland, Old Church and other points, and showing the highest soldierly qualities in all the combats in which it participated. Up to the middle of July its total losses in killed, wounded and missing amounted to 76. On July 16, the command was transferred to Lighthouse Point but on the 25th it returned to its old position, and two days later lost several men from guerrillas while on picket, 1 being killed, 2 wounded and 2 captured. At the baffle of Winchester its total loss was 130 men the killed including 1 captain and 1 lieutenant. In the operations at Summit Point the regiment lost 6 killed, 25 wounded and 14 missing At Kearneysville its loss in wounded and missing was 30 men, and in the affair on the Berryville turnpike in September its loss was 1 killed. After this affair, the regiment lay quiet until the 19th, when it participated in the battle of the Opequan, suffering some loss, but not sufficient to disturb the elation over the grand achievements of the day. It was again engaged at Front Royal, losing some men, and on the 28th, being in the cavalry advance, it once more encountered the enemy at Waynesboro, where it suffered a loss of 1O in killed and wounded, but fought with its accustomed gallantry. In the retrograde movement which followed, a movement designed to draw the enemy once more within effective striking distance, the regiment again proved its efficiency at Bridgewater, losing 9 men, at Brock's gap, and at Tom's brook, where it had a severe engagement with the now pursuing foe, its loss in that affair being 8 men. Finally reaching Cedar creek, it went on picket, where it remained until the 13th, when it had a sharp fight, losing two men. In the memorable battle of Cedar creek it was early placed in position, but was only moderately engaged. In the subsequent operations in the Valley it had an honorable part, being engaged on the Back road and at Mount Jackson in the loss of the command in the latter affair being two men, killed and wounded. In the spring of 1865 it was variously employed in the vicinity 1 of Petersburg until the last grand assault upon the enemy, when at Five Forks, fighting again with the scarred veterans who had swept Early from the Shenandoah Valley, it displayed conspicuous gallantry, sharing in all the perils as well as the splendid achievements of that memorable and glorious day, on which the power of the Rebellion was finally and forever broken. The loss of the regiment was only 8 wounded, including Lieut.-Col. Robeson. Joining in the pursuit of the flying foe, it had 1 officers wounded in a skirmish on the 6th but was not again heavily engaged. In due time Lee surrendered and the Confederate armies dissolved, when the regiment proceeded to Washington, and thence to 1 Trenton, where it was mustered out. The total strength of the regiment was 2,234, and it lost during its term of service by resignation 17, by discharge 83, by promotion 47, by transfer 276, by death 145, by desertion 439, by dismissal 8, not accounted for 187, mustered out 1,032.
George Armstrong Custer:
Enlisted on 6/24/1861 as a 2nd Lieutenant.
On 6/24/1861 he was commissioned into US Army 2nd Cavalry
He was transferred out on 8/3/1861
On 8/3/1861 he transferred into US Army 5th Cavalry
He was discharged for promotion on 7/28/1866
On 6/5/1862 he was commissioned into
US Volunteers Aide-De-Camp
He was discharged on 3/31/1863
On 6/29/1863 he was commissioned into
US Volunteers General Staff
He was Mustered Out on 2/1/1866
On 7/28/1866 he was commissioned into Field & Staff US Army 7th Cavalry
He was Killed on 6/25/1876 at Little Big Horn, MT
* Capt 6/5/1862 (Captain & Additional Aide-de-Camp)
* 1st Lieut 7/17/1862
* Brig-General 6/29/1863
* Major 7/3/1863 by Brevet (Gettysburg, PA)
* Capt 5/8/1864
* Lt Colonel 5/11/1864 by Brevet (Yellow Tavern, VA)
* Colonel 9/19/1864 by Brevet (Winchester, VA)
* Major-Gen 10/19/1864 by Brevet
* Brig-General 3/13/1865 by Brevet (Five Forks, VA)
* Major-Gen 3/13/1865 by Brevet
* Major-Gen 4/15/1865
* Lt Colonel 7/28/1866
born 12/5/1839 in New Rumley, Harrison Co., OH
died 6/25/1876 in Little Big Horn River, MT
(Graduate USMA 06/24/1861)
Custer developed a strong reputation during the Civil War. He participated in the first major engagement, the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, near Washington, D.C. His association with several important officers helped his career as did his success as a highly effective cavalry commander. Custer was brevetted to brigadier general at age 23, less than a week before the Battle of Gettysburg, where he personally led cavalry charges that prevented Confederate cavalry from attacking the Union rear in support of Pickett's Charge. He was wounded in the Battle of Culpeper Court House in Virginia on September 13, 1863. In 1864, Custer was awarded another star and brevetted to major general rank. At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, in which he and his troops played a decisive role, Custer was present at General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant, on April 9, 1865.
After the Civil War, Custer remained a major general in the United States Volunteers until they were mustered out in February 1866. He reverted to his permanent rank of captain and was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the 7th Cavalry Regiment in July 1866. He was dispatched to the west in 1867 to fight in the American Indian Wars. On June 25, 1876, while leading the 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory against a coalition of Native American tribes, he and all of his detachment—which included two of his brothers—were killed. The battle is popularly known in American history as "Custer's Last Stand."
Born in Harrison County, Ohio on December 5, 1839, son of Emanuel and Marie, Custer was nicknamed “Autie” because of his mispronunciation of his middle name as a small child. George had four younger siblings, Thomas, Margaret, Nevin, and Boston, as well as several older half-siblings from his mother’s first marriage to Israel Kirkpatrick, who died in 1835.
During much of his boyhood George lived with his half-sister and brother-in-law in Monroe, Michigan, where he attended McNeely Norman School, carrying coal with a classmate in order to pay for room and board. Upon graduation, he taught school for two years before being admitted to the U.S. Military Academy, where he graduated in 1861, ranked last in his class of 34 cadets. Ever a trickster, multiple demerits for pulling practical jokes on his classmates brought him close to expulsion several times.
Graduating in 1861, his low rank was less significant than it might have been during peace time because of demand for officers and he was mustered into the Union army as a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry.
Custer was able to distinguish himself as a risk-taker early in the war. During the Peninsula Campaign when General John G. Barnard stopped at the Chickahominy River, debating where to cross based on the depth of the water, Custer took action and promptly rode his horse out to the middle of the river so as to determine if it was passable. The act gained him notoriety among important high-ranking officers. During the Battle of Bull Run, Custer served as a courier between Winfield Scott and Irvin McDowell, subsequently serving as a staff officer for Generals George B. McClellan and Alfred Pleasanton with the temporary rank of captain.
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.
Throughout the war Custer continued to distinguish himself as fearless, aggressive, and ostentatious. His personalized uniform style, complete with a red neckerchief could be somewhat alienating, but he was successful in gaining the respect of his men with his willingness to lead attacks from the front rather than the back.
During the Richmond campaign in 1864, Custer participated in the battle at Yellow Tavern, where J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded. Following which he and his men were transferred to the Shenandoah Valley. Here he played a major role in the defeat of Jubal Early’s army at Third Winchester and Cedar Creek. As Custer's final major act in the war he led the division responsible for cutting off Lee’s last avenue of escape at Appomattox; a week later he received the appointment, major general of volunteers.
In 1866, Custer was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the newly formed 7th Cavalry and assigned to command the cavalry in the west. While in this position he took part in Winfield Hancock’s expedition against the Sioux and Cheyenne in 1867. After a court-martial and suspension from duty for an unauthorized visit to his wife, Elizabeth Clift Bacon, Custer was restored to duty by Philip Sheridan.
Custer went on to take part in the Yellowstone expedition into the Black Hills, which precipitated the Sioux uprising of 1876, culminating in the Battle of Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. Under the over-all command of General Alfred H. Terry, Custer was to be part of a two column attack. However, upon discovering a large native settlement, Custer proceeded to divide his own forces into three battalions. Without waiting for support, Custer led an attack which resulted in the annihilation of his immediate command and a total loss of 266 officers and men, including his brothers Tom and Boston. The soldiers' remains were given a hasty burial on the battlefield, but within the next year Custer’s body was reinterred at West Point with a full military funeral.
George Armstrong Custer was a prolific writer who recorded many of his escapades, and it was through these writings, as well as his wife’s determination to clear his name that he became one of the most celebrated and controversial figures of the Civil War.
Inventory Number: PAI 021