Book Review: An Aide to Custer: The Civil War Letters of Lt. Edward G. Granger


by Edward Granger

Normal: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018. Pp. xxii, 296. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 0806160187

A Young Man at War

In August of 1862 Edward G. Granger (1843-1864), a would-be attorney who had dropped out of college, joined the 5th Michigan Cavalry as a junior officer. Like many other young soldiers, he began writing letters to family and friends, 44 of which survive and form the core of this work.

Granger’s first year of war was one of boring routine, while he trained in Michigan and then experienced garrison duty at Washington. Then, in June and July of 1863 the regiment – and Granger – saw heavy action during the Gettysburg Campaign, as part of Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s Michigan Brigade. The young officer attracted the eye of the young general, who appointed Granger commander of his provost guard, and then as acting assistant adjutant general on his staff.

Granger served on Custer’s staff during the Overland Campaign and in the Shenandoah Valley, being several times cited by the general. During the Battle of Crooked Run (Aug. 16, 1864), near Front Royal in the Shenandoah, his mount panicked under fire, ran directly toward the Confederate lines, and Granger was killed.

Editor Barnard, a Custer specialist, and complier Singerly, a veteran Civil War collector, have added valuable commentary and useful annotations to fill in details Granger presumed the addressee was aware of or just neglected to mention. This makes his letters an even more valuable guide to family life in the period, with many into military service and the war.

An Aide to Custer is a good read for anyone with an interest in the Civil War.


Note: An Aide to Custer is also available in several e-editions


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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