George Armstrong Custer established a record that is still talked about at West Point. He graduated dead last in his class of 1861, 34th out of 34. This made him the class goat. He also compiled more demerits for misconduct than any other cadet who went on to graduate.
Interestingly enough, being the class goat is considered almost an honor at West Point. At graduation ceremonies the goat always receives the loudest cheers when his name is announced to receive his diploma. More than a few goats have attained the rank of general, military life and war often requiring qualities and abilities that are difficult to test in the classroom.
So it was with Custer. Within two years of graduation he was a brigadier general of volunteers. By the end of the Civil War he was commanding a cavalry division with the rank of major general of volunteers. Custer’s defeat at the Little Big Horn in 1876 gained him immortality, but also an undeserved reputation as a brave bumbler. Actually Custer was a skilled commander of troops, as his record in the Civil War amply demonstrates. Not bad for a goat.