James William Custer

Company "E" 3rd West Virginia Cavalry

Submitted by Bill Mc Afee.

     Born October 10, 1842, probably in Clarksburg, Harrison County, Virginia, James William Custer was a member of a large, extended family that originated in Germany, near the border with Holland. He was the son of Alexander S. and Elizabeth Logston Custer, both of whom were born in Maryland. After 1830, when the family patriarch, Alex's father John Custer died, Alex's family along with his brother, James C. Custer and his family, their sisters, Anne, Mary and Ellen Elizabeth, and their mother, Catherine Valentine Custer, moved to Harrison County, Virginia. The area they settled is still referred to as the Custer Addition of Clarksburg. Another of Alex's brothers, Emanuel Henry, had earlier moved to join their Uncle Jacob Custer in New Rumley, Harrison County, Ohio.

     James W. joined the 3rd WV Volunteer Cavalry which had been raised in western Virginia to support the Federal government while the politicians were going through the process of separating the western counties from old Virginia. In April, Confederate generals John D. Imboden and William E. "Grumble" Jones made a raid into the Federal-held counties of what was to become the state West Virginia. At Lambert's Run, near Lumberport, an engagement took place in April 1863, between the raiding Confederate forces and Union forces, including the 3rd WV Cavalry. On April 30, PVT James W. Custer was mortally wounded. He died May 18. His father went to the battle area to claim the body and take it home to be buried in the family graveyard in Custer Addition. A month later, June 20, 1863, West Virginia received its statehood. GAR* Post No. 9 in Clarksburg was named the Custer Post in honor, not of his more famous first cousins from New Rumley, OH, George Armstrong & Thomas Ward Custer, but of James William Custer, the local cavalry private who gave his life for his country.

*GAR is the acronym for the Grand Army of the Republic, the dominant organization of Union veterans formed in 1866. It died out with the death of its last member in 1956.


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