General Custer's West Point Funeral


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Up | General Custer in the Civil War | Custer's Last Stand | Pictures of General George Custer | General Custer's Last Words | General Custer's West Point Funeral



OCTOBER 27, 1877.]





THE remains of this gallant officer were laid in their last resting place in the West Point Cemetery on the 10th of October, with appropriate and impressive ceremonies. Early in the forenoon the body was taken from the receiving vault at Poughkeepsie, where it had been lying since last August, and conveyed by steamer to West Point. Thousands of people lined the banks on either side of the roadway as the procession approached, and stood in silence till it passed. It halted in front of the chapel, where the remains lay in state until 2 p.m., at which time the regular funeral service was commenced. Before the doors to the chapel were opened, an immense throng gathered in the vicinity, and some endeavored to gain admission,

but the guard on duty prevented. Finally a surging of the crowd in front of the building showed that the funeral party was approaching. An officer ordered the entrance made clear, the doors were swung open, and the mourners passed slowly in. First came Major-General SCHOFIELD, commandant of the post, with the widow of the dead hero on his arm. Next came General CUSTER'S father and sister, and then followed more distant relatives of the deceased, and intimate friends of the family. The family group were seated upon the right of the main aisle. Besides other floral offerings, the cadets had placed upon the casket a column of immortelles two feet high, and near it rested the dead chieftain's sabre and helmet. At the foot was a beautiful wreath encircling the words " Seventh Cavalry,"

and around all, entwined in a tasteful manner, was a large American flag. Back of the chancel against the wall hung a large flag in festoons, and at the apex was a blue silk flag, on which, in letters of gold, were the words :" God and Our Country."
The funeral was conducted by Dr. FORSYTH, chaplain of the post, who first read a portion of the Episcopal burial service, after which the choir of cadets chanted the thirty-ninth and ninetieth psalms. When the hymns were finished, the services in the chapel were ended, and the guard of honor removed the remains from the edifice. By this time all the people who intended to be present were on the grounds, and were massed in the vicinity of the chapel. Drawn up in line fronting the. chapel were the cadets of the Military Academy, with the government band, and further back was the artillery, with horses attached to caissons. Opposite, and facing the cadets, were the organizations from abroad. When the remains reached the open air, the cadets presented arms.

The funeral procession, as shown in our illustration on page 841, marched along the picturesque route from the chapel to the beautiful little cemetery at the north end of the post. The grave is just inside the entrance, to the left of the gate. In the same plot are the graves of HARTSUFF, ANDERSON, HITCHCOCK, M'CRAE, HOOK, PHILLIPS, BOWERS, SCOTT, and BUFFORD, in the order named. Close by these illustrious men was chosen the resting-place of CUSTER. The body was lowered into the ground, earth was sprinkled upon it, the burial service was completed by the chaplain, and the battalion of three hundred cadets fired three volleys over the grave. The echoes reverberated from side to side of the river, flung back from cliff to cliff, and died mournfully away. The funeral services were over, and the body of the brave CUSTER was left to rest where his comrades had laid him.



General Custer's West Point Grave
General Custer's Funeral





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