Captured Coat of General Custer.
Mr. Owen Higgins, of Baltimore, the man who captured the uniform of General Custer, the famous army officer and Indian-fighter, during the Civil War, and who took part in many daring raids by the Confederates, was in Winchester last week. Mr. Higgins was born in Ireland. He came to this country at the age of eight with his parents and for some years, made his home in Jefferson county, W. Va., then Virginia. At the age of twelve years he joined the Confederate Army and served in Company “D,” Twelfth Virginia Cavalry, Rosser’s Brigade. Throughout the war he saw active and stirring service.
Mr. Higgins told how he came into possession of General Custer’s uniform. Part of the uniform he gave to Major Knott, his commanding officer, but the coat, made of handsome English cloth and trimmed with gold buttons, he gave to a lady to keep for him and after the war got it from her. The garment is now in his home at Roland Park, Baltimore, and is a treasured possession.
Soon after the battle of Gettysburg Mr. Higgins took part in a daring raid by Confederates under the command of Major Knott and Captain Kearney between Harper’s Ferry and Shepherdstown, W. Va. There were but eighteen Confederate soldiers in the party, yet they captured a score of Yankees and General Custer’s wagon train.
At two o’clock in the morning– the night being very dark– the daring Confederate raiders stole into the Union lines near Shepherdstown and secured a hiding place in a strip of woods. A courier from General Custer to Captain Leonard, the head quartermaster at Harper’s Fery, was captured that morning by the Confederates, and it was learned that Custer’s wagon train was to pass that point.
The next day a party of nine Federal soldiers, who had been sent by General Custer to guard his wagon train, was captured by Confederates, and on the following day the wagon train, with several prisoners, was captured.
The plunder was divided among the raiders, and to Mr. Higgins fell a trunk, which he broke open with a club. Inside he found a dress uniform belonging to General Custer. The trousers and vest he presented to Major Knott, but the coat he gave to a lady to keep for him. The Confederates finally succeeded in escaping with the prisoners back into their own lines.
Since the war Mr. Higgins has been in the employ of contractors and has prospered. He has several sons and daughters.– Winchester Star.
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