Thomas W Custer
Thomas was born on the 15th of March, 1845, in New Rumley, Ohio, and grew up with two older brothers, George and Boston. He enlisted in the Union Army in September of 1861 at the age of 16 and fought as a Private with the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In October of 1864, he was mustered out of service as a Corporal and went to Company B of the 6th Michigan Cavalry, but this time as a 2nd Lieutenant. Thomas was his oldest brother's personal aid until the end of the Civil War, receiving brevet promotions to Captain, Major, and Lieutenant Colonel before the age of 20. His actions on two separate days, just three days apart from each other, earned him two Medals of Honor and made him the first person to do so. The citations read:
For capture of flag on 3 April 1865.
2d Lt. Custer leaped his horse over the enemy's works and captured 2 stands of colors, having his horse shot from under him and receiving a severe wound.
Not only was he the first to receive two Medals of Honor, he was one of only four to do so during the Civil War. Not only did he capture the flag during the April 3rd actions, he also captured three officers and eleven enlisted men from the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry and since he had his horse shot out from under him, he also acquired another horse to ride back with. Thomas pulled this same maneuver again three days later, but this time was shot in the face. He had rode along with Colonel Charles E Capehart during this battle and Charles had written in a letter home to Thomas's sister-in-law what he had seen:
I saw your brother capture his second flag. It was in a charge made by my brigade at Sailor's Creek, Virginia, against General Ewell's Corps. Having crossed the line of temporary works in the flank road, we were confronted by a supporting line. It was from the second line that he wrested the colors, single-handed, and only a few paces to my right. As he approached the colors he received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse, but in a moment he was upright in his saddle. Reaching out his right arm, he grasped the flag while the color bearer reeled. The bullet from Tom's revolver must have pierced his heart. As he was falling Captain Custer wrenched the standard from his grasp and bore it away in triumph.
Thomas was threatened with arrest by his brother to not return to the battle and to seek medical attention. After the Civil War, Thomas served in the Indian Wars and was wounded in November of 1868. He then was tasked to serve in the South to help keep the peace during the Reconstruction era.
If you are thinking to yourself that the last name Custer sounds pretty familiar, you are right. I mentioned that he had an older brother named George and yes, that's the same George Custer that is known for Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Thomas had actually participated in the arrest of Chief Rain-in-the-Face, who was suspected of the murder of Dr John Honsigner. All three of the Custer brothers died during the Battle of Little Bighorn on the 25th of June, 1876. Thomas's body was so mutilated that it was only recognizable by a tattoo of his initials on his arm. It was rumored that Chief Rain-in-the-Face had cut Thomas's heart out of his chest for wrongfully imprisoning him but this was denied in a later interview. Originally buried on the battlefield at the age of 31, Thomas Ward Custer is now buried in the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in Kansas: Section A, Site 1488.