George A. Custer Equestrian Monument, photo submitted 1994.
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Custer, George Armstrong, Equestrian Monument
SW corner of the intersection of Elm and North Monroe (M-125) streets, Monroe - Monroe County
Other Names George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument
"Sighting the Enemy"
Property Type monument
Historic Use RECREATION AND CULTURE/monument/marker
Current Use RECREATION AND CULTURE/monument/marker
Architect/Builder Edward C. Potter
Narrative Description The George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument is located on the southwest corner of Elm Avenue and North Monroe Street (M-125) in the city of Monroe. It occupies a triangular-shaped, grassy area near St. Mary's Park flanked by concrete sidewalks. The statue rests on a pedestal of grey, polished, Concord, New Hampshire, granite, which rests on a concrete and brick foundation extending twelve feet below street level. The pedestal is nineteen feet long, nine feet wide and twelve feet high. The combined height of the concrete base, the granite pedestal and the bronze statue is about thirty-four feet. The dark bronze statue weighs seventy-five hundred pounds and faces northeast. The statue's pose depicts Custer "Sighting the Enemy." The advance of the horse is suddenly arrested, while a rapid survey of the field is taken. The cavalry horse that carries the figure of General Custer is finely detailed down to its withers, its flanks, and its every muscle and vein. The light cavalry saddle, its army blanket beneath, Custer's saber and hat, and the single rein clutched in the general's hand is accurately and highly detailed. Inscribed on the southeast and northwest facades of the monument is the single word "Custer." The northeast side of the monument bears the inscription "Erected by the State of Michigan."
Statement of Significance The Custer Equestrian Monument has historical significance as a commemoration of the victory of Custer's Michigan Cavalry Brigade on the Rummel fields at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. It has artistic significance as the design of Edward Clark Potter, who was nationally famous for his design of Civil War equestrian monuments and other public sculpture.
Marker Name George Armstrong Custer / Sighting the Enemy
Marker Text GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER Raised in Monroe, George Armstrong Custer graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1861. In 1863 he became a brigadier general and commanded the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. "Come On You Wolverines!" was his battle cry while leading his men to victory over the Confederates at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Custer commanded a division in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 and his troops cut off the last avenue of escape for Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. After the Civil War Custer was appointed lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry. On June 25, 1876, he gained notoriety at the Battle of the Little Big Horn where he and 266 others died. In 1877 his remains were reinterred at West Point. "SIGHTING THE ENEMY" Edward C. Potter's sculpture "Sighting the Enemy" depicts General George Armstrong Custer pulling his horse up before entering battle. Custer is presented at a young age; he was only twenty-three years old when he faced the Confederate cavalry at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Potter, educated at Amherst College, Boston Art Museum and in France, was selected as the artist because of his reputation for sculpting equestrian statues. Custer's widow, Libbie, was instrumental in his selection. The monument was originally dedicated at Washington and First streets on June 4, 1910, by President William H. Taft, Governor Fred M. Warner and Libbie Custer. Michigan Cavalry Brigade veterans serving on the monument commission included Colonel George G. Briggs, Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd and Lieutenant Frederick A. Nims.
Period of Significance 1908-1910
Registry Type(s) 1992 Marker erected
12/09/1994 National Register listed
06/15/1992 State Register listed
Site ID# P3332