General George Armstrong Custer

On July 3rd, 1863, outside the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the fate of the Union Army, and the course of the Civil War, hung in the balance. On the third day of a climactic battle, confederate cavalry under Jeb Stuart — the legendary gray horsemen known as “the Invincibles,” — threatened to overrun the Union’s vulnerable right flank. As the overwhelmed Union forces began to fall back, only the veteran First Michigan Cavalry remained to counter-attack. At that moment, a figure came riding to the front of the Michigan lines, dressed in black velvet, his saber held high, yellow hair streaming in the wind — it was the 23-year-old Brigadier General — George Armstrong Custer.

So sudden and violent was the collision,” wrote one veteran, “that many of the horses were turned end over end and crushed their riders beneath them. The clashing of sabers, the firing of pistols, the demands for surrender, and cries of combatants, filled the air.” When it was over, the Union lines had held, and Custer’s wild charge had helped win the most decisive battle of the Civil War.