Personal Cavalry Battle Flag of George Armstrong Custer
Answer to Name This Famous Antique Game - September 2016
By Mike McLeod

This antique was the personal cavalry battle flag of George Armstrong Custer. It was handmade of silk by his wife Libbie and delivered to him during the Civil War Battle of Dinwiddie Courthouse at Petersburg, Va. The swallowtail-shaped flag measured 68 by 36 inches with crossed cavalry sabers and a bar of red above a bar of blue. It was present with Custer and his troops at the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse that ended the Civil War. 

Custerís personal flag made by his wife.
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Custerís cavalry flag sold at Heritage Auctions for $896,250 in 2007.

Yet, that was not the highest amount paid for a flag belonging to George Armstrong Custer. That record went to the Culbertson Guidon. After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sergeant Ferdinand Culbertson found Custerís 7th Cavalry flag among the dead. It auctioned at Sothebyís in 2010 for an incredible $2,210,500. Measuring 27.5 by 33 inches and made of silk, it was Custerís last flag.

The flag made by Libbie Custer was not taken to the Little Bighorn.

The silk Culbertson Guidon has a field of 13 red and white stripes and a blue field, or canton, with 35 applied gold starsówhich is odd because there were 37 states on June 25, 1876 (Custerís Last Stand). The answer: the U.S. War Department ordered too many 35-star cavalry swallowtail flags during the Civil War so it continued issuing them thereafter.

The 7th Cavalry Culbertson Guidon
(Photo courtesy of Sothebyís)

In addition to tears, holes and blood stains, this flag is missing some rectangular sections, particularly one below the field that measures 8.75 x 6 inches. These were cut out as souvenirs and taken by troopers and others.

An envelope addressed by Custer to his wife, sold for $3,226.50 at Heritage Auctions in 2013.
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Custerís signature is also valuable. Envelopes addressed by him to ďMrs. Geníl Custer,Ē with what is effectively his signature in cursive handwriting in the address, have sold for from about $1,000 to just over $3,000 at Heritage Auctions.

Ted Carlton of Utah correctly identified Custerís flag.


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