Elizabeth Bacon Custer was the wife of George Armstrong Custer. Libbie and Autie had met years before but were formally introduced to each other at a Thanksgiving party in Monroe Michigan in 1862 while Custer was on leave. Custer fell in love with her nearly on sight and proposed to her in the final weeks of 1862, barely a month after their meeting. Libbie’s father disapproved of the match and forbade Libbie to see the then Captain Custer, as he felt his family and social standing were beneath Libbie’s.
Autie and Libbie corresponded secretly and still managed to see each other over the next year. Finally, Judge Bacon, Libbie’s father, consented to the union after Custer was brevetted a Brigadier General in late June of 1863. Custer and Libbie were married in the Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Michigan on February 9, 1864.
Unlike most other army wives, Libbie refused to be left behind and traveled with Custer to his duty areas. She would stay in houses with families whom the General had befriended, and stayed in camp when there were no active operations happening. She did end up staying in Washington D.C. for long periods as the war entered it’s final phase and Autie was in the field for extensive periods of time. It was during this time that Libbie was introduced to President Lincoln at the White House who greeted her with, “So you are the wife of the man who goes into the cavalry charges with a whoop and a yell!”
The intense relationship between herself and Autie is legendary. Their many letters written to each other are full of covert references to their intimate life and love for each other.
After the war, Libbie accompanied her husband out west for Reconstruction duties in Texas, then eventually on to Fort Riley, Kansas in 1867 when the Seventh Cavalry was formed. Autie loved and missed her so much that, for reasons that are difficult to confirm, he left the regimant in the field and traveled hundreds of miles in a short time to find her. The problem was he left his command without orders or leave, and the morning after being reunited with Libbie, he was placed under arrest.
Libbie endured his one year suspension from the army with him, and traveled back out west when he returned to duty. The Custers were living at Fort Abraham Lincoln in present-day North Dakota when Custer was killed in Montana on June 25, 1876.
Libbie never remarried and spent the remainder of her life defending her husband’s memory and honor. She wrote three books, Boots and Saddles, (1885), Following the Guidon (1890); and Tenting on the Plains, (1893). She traveled extensively and was a popular speaker on the lecture circuit. She stated that her only regret was that she and Autie had never had children.
Libbie Custer died on April 4, 1933 just short of her 91st birthday, and was laid to rest beside her husband in the military cemetery at West Point.
Rick Williams’ fiancé, Ms. Marlene Rice, accompanies Rick and appears as Libbie Custer with him at many events.