Custer acquired a solid reputation during the Civil War. He fought in the first majorengagement, the First Battle of Bull Run. His association with several important officers helped his career, as did his performance as an aggressive commander. Before war's end, Custer was promoted tothe temporary rank (brevet) of major general. (At war's end, this was reduced to the permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel). At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, in which he and his troopsplayed a decisive role, Custer was on hand at General Robert E. Lee's surrender.
After the Civil War, Custer was dispatched to the West to fight in the Indian Wars. The overwhelming defeat in his finalbattle overshadowed his achievements in the Civil War. Custer was defeated and killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, fighting against a coalition of Native American tribes in a battle thathas come to be popularly known in American history as "Custer's Last Stand".
According to late 20th century research, Custer's ancestors had emigrated to North America in the late 17th century fromthe Rhineland in Germany, probably among thousands of Palatine refugees whose passage was arranged by the English government of Queen Anne to gain settlers. Their surname originally was spelled"Küster". George Armstrong Custer was a 3xgreat-grandson of Paulus Küster from Kaltenkirchen, Duchy of Jülich (today North Rhine-Westphalia state), who settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania.