Elizabeth Bacon Custer spent 12 years married to the most flamboyant man in the United States Army, and another 55 defending his name.
“Libbie” was born on April 8, 1842, the daughter of a prominent Monroe, Michigan judge. During the Civil War, she married General George Custer, known by his childhood name of Autie.
After the war, Libbie and Autie moved with the 7th Cavalry to the Reconstruction South, and then to the open plains of Kansas where Custer gained fame as an Indian fighter.
During their stay in Kansas, Custer left his troops to ride over 200 miles to Fort Hays and Fort Harker, fearing Libbie would contract the cholera which was spreading through the forts. He finally found her at Fort Riley. Custer’s wild ride was costly, though. He arrested for being absent from his command without permission.
Following Custer’s 1876 death at the Little Bighorn, Libbie spent the remainder of her life defending him through a series of three books she wrote about their life together. At the time of her death in 1931, she was in the process of gathering her Civil War notes into a new book.
In the 55 years following Autie’s death, he was never far from Libbie’s thoughts. In her book “Tenting on the Plains”, she remembers the day he rode to Fort Riley to make sure she was safe,
“There was in the summer of 1867 one long, perfect day. It was mine, and blessed be our memory, which preserves to us the joys as well as the sadness of life!—it is still mine, for time and for eternity.