Photo of General Custer, his wife and staff taken by William H. Bowlsby.
This is a print taken from the historic William H. Bowlsby photograph of General George A. Custer with his wife and staff at the M.Y. Mason mansion, Winchester, Virginia, on the 25th of December, 1864. Custer had made this house his headquarters in Winchester. His two guidons are clearly visible in this photo. On the left is his 3rd Personal Gudion ZFC0489 and the 3rd Cavalry Division designating flag ZFC0490.
Shortly after receiving his commission as a brigadier general and closely following the Battle of Gettysburg, George Armstrong Custer had a swallow-tailed guidon made, divided horizontally, red over blue with white crossed sabers. This standard served as his personal guidon to indicate his location on the battlefield and in camp. The first guidon was somewhat makeshift, and was replaced in the winter of 1863/1864 by an elaborate fringed silk flag of the same design and decorated with battle honors from Custer's 1863 service. In June 1864, the second personal flag was nearly captured. It was saved only by tearing it from its staff. As it was too damaged in the process for further use, in the summer of 1864, Custer's wife, Libbie, made a third personal flag, which was to become his most renowned standard.
The guidon in the photograph is that third incarnation of Custer's personal flag. Custer's third personal flag was carried by him through the remaining campaigns of 1864, including the Shenandoah Valley campaign, where Custer was photographed in front of his headquarters with his personal guidon and his 3rd Division guidon. The third guidon also embarked with the young general on the spring, 1865 campaign south of Petersburg and would be replaced by another fine silk example, also crafted by his wife, Libbie, as Custer began the final battles of the Civil War on April 1, 1865, that culminated at Appomattox Court House in April 9, 1865.
University of California - Santa Cruz
Board of Councilors Meeting, Rare Flags Exhibit
Santa Cruz, CA
7 June 2012
Katz, D. Mark, Custer in Photographs, New York, Bonanza Books, 1985. P. 35.
Madaus, Howard M.- Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, 2006. pp. 86-87.
Schrambling, Regina, "A Lifelong Pledge." Collection, Published by Robb Report, June 2014, p. 48H.
• Original Image created by William H. Bowlsby of General George A. Custer with his wife and staff at the M.Y. Mason mansion, Winchester, Virginia, December 1864.
• Original print at Custer Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana.
• Official copy of print purchased by Howard M. Madaus of Cody, Wyoming, 1970.
• Acquired by the Zaricor Flag Collection from the Madaus Flag Collection of Cody, WY, in 2000.
ZFC Significant Flag
Item is Framed