The Historical Art of John Paul Strain
John Paul Strain - Historical Artist
Historical Paintings


Brigadier General George A. Custer - Michigan Cavalry Brigade
Southwest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - July 4, 1863
Custer & His Wolverines
Custer & His Wolverines Remarque
Remarques on Artist's Proof Paper Giclée Edition

On July 3, 1863 the epic battle of Gettysburg was raging across the fields and hills of Pennsylvania for the third day. Brigadier General George A. Custer, commanding the Michigan Cavalry Brigade, was one of the key officers that would play a crucial role in the day’s events.

During the war, 23 year old Custer had eleven horses shot out from under him, including two that day at Gettysburg. His uncanny ability to avoid certain death in battle was often referred to by his men as “Custer Luck”. Custer never ordered his men to go into battle without himself leading the engagement. Such was the case when he was ordered to attack with his Michigan Brigade at a critical moment of the battle.

General Lee had ordered General JEB Stuart’s cavalry to flank Union forces and attack them from the rear, while General Pickett’s infantry would attack along Cemetery Ridge. Stuart’s cavalry were known as “The Invincibles” as they never lost in battle.

Custer positioned his 7th Michigan regiment in line for an attack against Stuart’s oncoming formations.
Out in front of his men, Custer shouted, “Come on, you Wolverines!” as the line moved forward, first at a walk, then at a trot, and finally at a full gallop. Waves of cavalrymen collided in furious hand to hand fighting with carbines, pistols, and sabres. Custer’s horse was shot out from under him. Quickly he commandeered a bugler’s horse, and Custer would personally take down General Stuart’s flag bearer.

Stuart then sent General Wade Hampton’s Brigade into the fray. This time Custer led his 1st Michigan Regiment in another charge, and once again came the cry “Come on, you Wolverines!” A Pennsylvania trooper described the scene. “As the two columns approached each other, the pace of each increased, when suddenly a crash, like the falling of timber, betokened the crisis. So sudden and violent was the collision that many horses were turned end over end and crushed their riders beneath them.” Custer’s second horse was killed in the clash, but miraculously he was unhurt. Stuart’s cavalry then withdrew from the field, unable to break through.

Confederate forces under General George Pickett were also unable to break through the Union position at Seminary Ridge. Lee had sent 12,500 men in nine infantry brigades across open fields for three-quarters of a mile under withering Union fire.
Of the soldiers who participated in “Pickett’s Charge” 6,555 were either killed, wounded or captured. Lee’s army could not afford such losses.

The next day, July 4th, General Lee ordered his Army of Northern Virginia to begin withdrawing from Gettysburg, when Major General George Meade’s Army of the Potomac did not counter attack. Lee’s route for his army’s retreat was southwest through Fairfield and over Monterey Pass to Hagerstown, and then crossing the Potomac.

Early on July 4 General Meade dispatched his cavalry brigades to strike the enemy’s rear lines
of communication and “harass and annoy him as much as possible in his retreat.” US Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry division, which included Custer and his Michigan regiments, were ordered to locate and destroy “a heavy train of wagons” spotted to the southwest heading towards Monterey Pass. The late afternoon of July 4 found Custer and his Wolverines about to be engulfed by heavy rain storms as they continued their pursuit of Lee’s army. They would meet again, this time at Monterey Pass.

Back to Gallery

Archival Paper Giclées

200 S/N Paper Giclées - $275
50 Artist's Proof Paper Giclées - $375
Image Size: 19.25" x 25"
Paper Giclee

Canvas Giclées

100 S/N Studio Canvas Giclées - $275
15 Artist's Proof Studio Canvas Giclées - $375
Image Size 17" x 22"

100 S/N Classic Canvas Giclées - $575
15 Artist's Proof Canvas Canvas Giclées - $675
Image Size 23" x 30"

30 S/N Executive Canvas Giclées - $1200
5 Artist's Proof Executive Canvas Giclées - $1400
Image Size 29.25" x 38"
Canvas Giclee
Historical Paintings