Lloyd, Frank J.
Place of Birth: London
Date of enlistment: 12 February 1872
Age given at enlistment: 23
Location on 25 June 1876: At Fort Abraham Lincoln
A Man They Left Behind Them
52 Blackfriars Road (marked by red spot), circa 1850. This image is displayed in the modern-day post office. (Author's photograph)
- It came as a most unexpected revelation to discover that a senior non-commissioned officer left behind at Fort Abraham Lincoln at the time of the Battle of the Little Bighorn was born on the actual site of the post office to which I have taken my business mail every working day for the last ten years. I refer to Sergeant Frank John Lloyd, Company G, Seventh United States Cavalry Regiment and 52 Blackfriars Road, Southwark, which is barely a quarter of a mile from where the Custer Association of Great Britain holds its London gatherings.
- Our story begins on 28 March 1842 with the marriage of John Lloyd and Elizabeth Mitchell in the picturesque village of Cuckfield, which lies on the southern slopes of the Weald in present-day rural West Sussex. Cuckfield was strategically placed on a turnpike and had long been an important coaching stop between London and Brighton but in the late 1830s the parish council and local landowners objected to the proposed route of the railway and, consequently, in 1841, the line was redirected through neighbouring Haywards Heath instead. Inevitably Cuckfield lost its importance, which may have influenced John Lloyd’s decision to join the nationwide exodus of millions from the countryside to find work in the ever-growing industrial towns and cities. By October 1847 the family was firmly established in 52 Blackfriars Road, then in the county of Surrey, where John had set up in business as a confectioner and pastry cook.
Colombo House (built 1969) covers 50-60 Blackfriars Road. A Post Office occupies much of the ground floor and the site of No. 52 was in the region of the entrance at the right side of the building. (Author's photograph)
- It was in the living quarters attached to the confectionary that, on 28 November 1848, the Lloyds’ second son and fourth child, the future cavalryman, was born. The infant was baptised ‘Frank John’ in the nearby famous Surrey Chapel on 21 January 1849 by the Reverend William Jay (1769-1853), a venerable, non-conformist divine, who is considered to be one of the most eminent Congregationalist preachers of Regency England.
- During the late-1850s the Lloyds moved to Mile End, a hamlet within the parish of Stepney, in the modern-day Borough of Tower Hamlets, an inner suburb of London immediately to the east of the capital and north of the River Thames: possibly during the hot summer of 1858 at the time of the notorious ‘Great Stink’ which almost brought the metropolis to a standstill. The census, taken on the night of the 7 April 1861, shows John Lloyd, age 44, a Commercial Clerk; Elizabeth, his wife, age 45; their children: Alice, age 13; Frank, age 12; Tom, age 7, all attending school; and Harry, age 3, living at 5 Lemon’s Terrace, Mile End.
Extract taken from the Register of Baptisms for the parish of Christ Church, Surrey, now in the Borough of Southwark, London.
Nothing more is known about young Frank until Friday, 16 July 1869, when he embarked for America, via Le Havre, France, from Gravesend, Kent, aboard the 1,914-ton S.S. Bellona. He was listed in the ship’s manifest as a 21 year-old clerk travelling in steerage and, after 22 days at sea, arrived in New York on 7 August.
The much-restored Gravesend Pier was built in 1834 and is the oldest cast iron pier in the world. William Crisfield sailed to America from here on 22 January 1851. (Author's collection)
- For the next two and a half years Lloyd’s whereabouts remain a complete mystery but on 12 February 1872 he walked into a recruiting office in Chicago, Illinois, and was enlisted as a private in the United States Army by Captain Samuel B. M. Young(a future Chief of Staff), 8th U.S. Cavalry.He was described as being age 23, having grey eyes, brown hair, a fair complexion, standing 5’ 6” tall, previously employed as a clerk.
- Frank Lloyd was assigned to the 7th U.S. Cavalry and joined Company G, under the command of the much-maligned First Lieutenant Donald McIntosh on 26 February at Spartanburg, South Carolina, which was engaged on Reconstruction duty. ‘Reconstruction’ was the name given to the Government’s policy to resolve the issues of the Civil War after the Confederacy was defeated and slavery ended. It addressed how former secessionist states would return to the Union and the constitutional and legal status of the former slaves. The Union troops, who were near-universally received by the disgruntled white community with thinly disguised hostility, acted mainly in a policing role rounding up members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organisations. However, Lloyd’s time in the South appears to have been relatively uneventful.
- From Spartanburg Company G moved to Newberry, also in South Carolina, where it arrived on 3 January 1873. A little over two months later Frank Lloyd was with his company when it left by rail for Memphis, Tennessee, and set up camp there on 10 March, before travelling by river steamer and rail to Fort Snelling, near St. Paul, Minnesota, which was reached on 11 April. The journey west continued on 7 May and they finally marched into Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, via Yankton, on 10 June 1873.
- Ten days later Company G (and all companies except D & I) left Fort Rice with Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer on an expedition, under the overall command of Colonel David S. Stanley, 22nd U.S. Infantry, to survey a route for the Northern Pacific Railroad along the Yellowstone River in Montana Territory.After six weeks or so in the field, during which time there were two notable skirmishes with Sioux Indians that resulted in a relatively small number of casualties on both sides, Custer’s command separated from the main column and the staff, band and six companies of the 7th U.S. Cavalry, including ‘G’, marched east to the regiment’s new headquarters, Fort Abraham Lincoln (more generally known as Fort Lincoln), Dakota Territory, where they arrived on 21 September 1873.
- The following summer Lloyd was with his company on the Black Hills Expedition when gold was discovered although, according to the regimental monthly return for August 1874, “No hostile Indians were encountered & nothing of importance transpired during the month.” Having marched a distance of just under 900 miles they arrived back at Fort Lincoln on 30 August 1874 and on 29 September Company G left the post for a second tour of Reconstruction duty in the South. On this occasion they were garrisoned in Shreveport, Louisiana and it was there, on 27 July 1875, that Frank Lloyd was promoted to corporal.
- Late in 1875 the Government ordered the Sioux to report to designated reservations by the following 31 January but when the Sioux refused to comply they were declared ’hostile’. However the weather on the Plains was the coldest in living memory which meant attacking the Sioux in their winter camps was not an option. In the spring of 1876 therefore plans were revised and a three-pronged campaign was to be launched from Montana and Wyoming territories as well as Dakota. The 7th Cavalry would form part of Major General Alfred H. Terry’s Dakota Column that was to assemble near Fort Lincoln. In the event Company G did not leave Shreveport until as late as 19 April and arrived at Bismarck, via St. Louis and St. Paul, on the 30th of the month.[ The same day, under the command of Second Lieutenant Edward S. Godfrey, Company K, they crossed the Missouri River and went into camp two or three miles south of the fort. It was here that Lloyd gained his sergeant’s stripes.
- Early on the morning of Wednesday, 17 May 1876, General Terry’s Dakota Column, which included all twelve companies of the Seventh, finally moved out from Fort Lincoln with the regimental band playing over and over again “The Girl I left Behind Me.” No doubt many of the ‘men they left behind them‘ would have been disappointed at not being on the campaign, including Frank Lloyd which in the event may well have saved his life.
- The fifty-three enlisted men who remained at Fort Lincoln were attached in roughly equal numbers to Companies D and G, 20th U.S. Infantry, under the command of Civil War veterans, Captain Charles O. Bradley and First Lieutenant John A. Manley, respectively. Lloyd was initially assigned to Company D.
- The monthly return for May 1876 shows that the 7th U.S. Cavalry contingent at Fort Lincoln comprised of two men on permanent duty, 40 on extra or daily duty – to guard company and personal property and also to tend the extensive gardens – eight were reported sick and three were in confinement. Clearly Lloyd’s clerical skills and leadership qualities had not gone unnoticed as, despite being the most recently-promoted of the seven sergeants who stayed behind, he was appointed Acting Post Sergeant Major.
- The story of Battle of the Little Bighorn is too well known to be repeated here other than to say all that 209 men under Custer’s immediate command and 53 others in different phases in the battle were killed by a significant force of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians that because of the separation of the command were able to overwhelm the two battalions with Custer. Rumours of the regiment’s calamitous defeat on the bluffs overlooking the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory on 25-26 June began to circulate around Fort Lincoln. but were not formally confirmed until around 7:00 am on 6 July when Acting Post Commander Captain William S. McCaskey, 20th U.S. Infantry, accompanied by Second Lieutenant Charles L. Gurney, 6th U.S. Infantry, and Dr Johnson Van D. Middleton, the post surgeon, began the painful task of breaking the news to the 30 or so widows, one of whom was Elizabeth “Libbie” Custer, wife of the ‘General’.
- The regiment finally returned to Fort Lincoln on 26 September 1876 and Frank Lloyd reverted to sergeant on 4 November. In the meantime, on 19 October, the long-time absent colonel of the Seventh, Samuel D. Sturgis, arrived to take over command of the post, the regiment and the Middle District of the Department of Dakota. After a short spell as acting company quartermaster Lloyd was discharged at Fort Lincoln on 12 February 1877, having completed five years service as a “Sergeant of Excellent Character.” In all probability he headed straight to the bright lights of the East, perhaps even intending to return to England. In the event, however, it would seem that he missed the military way of life as on 2 May the same year, in Washington, D.C., he was re-enlisted in the Army by Captain John I. Rodgers, 2nd U.S. Artillery, and assigned to Battery L of that regiment.
- The whole regiment was out during the railroad strike and labour riots of 1877. Lloyd was with his battery and five others, all under command of Colonel William H. French, who arrived at Martinsburg, West Virginia, on the morning of 19 July. For the next four weeks they were occupied along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, re-opening the track for traffic and protecting property. In August, with the troubles on the railways being over, most of the regiment was brought together at Fort McHenry from where a battalion, consisting of Batteries E, F, G and L, was sent, on 31 August, to re-establish the post of Carlisle Barracks. After remaining there for three weeks, disturbances having occurred in the coal regions of Pennsylvania, they were sent to Wilkes Barre, where they were joined by Battery C from Fort McHenry. In October all the batteries of the regiment were back at their regular stations.
- Two months later, the threat trouble of with Mexico led to the four Carlisle batteries being sent to San Antonio, Texas where, in January, 1878, ‘L’ was re-designated a light battery. A platoon of Battery L, including Frank Lloyd, was posted to Fort Clark, Kinney County, Texas, and in June that year accompanied Colonel [later Brigadier General] Ranald S. Mackenzie who led a punitive raid against the Indians operating out of Mexico. The Federal Census taken in June 1880 shows Frank Loyd (sic), a 1st Sergeant, with his regiment at Fort Clark.
- Due to ill health Frank Lloyd was unable to complete his second five-year enlistment and, on 28 August 1881 at McPherson Barracks, Georgia, he was discharged on a “surgeon’s certificate for chronic diarrhoea and the resultant total disability.” On 28 October 1881 he was granted a pension of $8 a month. Soon after he crossed the Atlantic and initially may have spent some time at 11 Stepney Green, with his father, his elder sister Emily, and youngest brother Harry.
- On 1 July 1885, Frank Lloyd, a clerk, living at 2 Maria Terrace, Stepney and 37 year-old spinster Ann Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Benjamin Smith, an accountant, from nearby Dalston, were married by the Reverend Alfred Wheeler at St James, West Hackney; banns having also been read at the famous church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney.
Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon Custer, widow of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer (above). 66 Lichfield Road, Mile End, London, home of Frank Lloyd in 1891 (right).
- Relatively soon after her husband’s death and fearing that he was to be made a scapegoat by history, Libbie Custer launched a one-woman campaign to restore his image. She began writing articles and accepting speaking engagements praising the glory of what she presented as her ‘martyred’ husband. The first of her three books was featured in an advertisement published in The Times newspaper on 1 and 4 April 1885, which read: “BOOTS & SADDLES, or Life in Dakota with General Custer by ELIZABETH B. CUSTER. Crown 8vo. cloth, 8s. 6d.” Did Lloyd purchase a copy or was his mind romantically distracted by other things?
- The census taken on the night of 5 April 1891 shows Frank as an Assistant Rate Collector (Poor Rates), living at 66 Lichfield Road, Hamlet of Mile End Old Town, with his wife, Ann, his 74 year-old father, John, and a young boarder from Scotland.
- The Summer Bank Holiday that year fell on 3 August which was the day chosen by Elizabeth Custer to visit to the famous People’s Palace in Mile End Road. It is to be hoped that Frank Lloyd did not let the opportunity go by to make himself known to his old commander’s widow, with whom he would almost certainly have made her acquaintance during the time he was Acting Post Sergeant Major at Fort Lincoln. Of course, that’s something else we will never know.
The People's Palace, Mile End, Stepney, London, built 1887, was destroyed by fire in 1931. The clock tower still stands.
- Libbie wrote a most revealing article about the time spent in the capital’s notorious East End, entitled ‘In Darkest London’, which was published as part of a longer piece in the New York World. Referring to the working classes she encountered in the surrounding district she said: “Our New York scavengers may seem ill-bred, but they cannot compare with the English of the same class. Theirs is the lowest state to which squalor and wretchedness descends, and the intemperance of the women makes pauperism more revolting than in any other land.” On the other hand she was very impressed by the library at the People’s Palace and its progressive, young librarian, Minnie Stewart Rhodes James, who, quite possibly at Libbie’s instigation, a few years later joined the Library Bureau in Boston, Massachusetts.
- By April 1895, then residing in 176 Burdett Road, Frank Lloyd had been promoted to Collector of Rates for the South East Ward of the Hamlet of Mile End Old Town Council. The census taken five years later indicates he had moved next door to number 178.
- Tragedy was to visit Frank Lloyd in successive years. First, early in 1904, his father died, age 87, and second, on 19 March 1905, his wife, Ann Smith Lloyd, passed away at the relatively young age of 57.
- However, Frank Lloyd’s widowerhood proved to be relatively short as on 16 October 1907, then residing in Forest Glade, Leytonstone, Essex, on the edge of Epping Forest, he married Jane Agnes Cooper, a 48 year-old schoolteacher, on licence by Willoughby Carter, at St Matthias’ Church, Earl’s Court, west London.
- In April 1991, Lloyd was enumerated in the decennial census as a Rate Collector for Stepney Borough Council and had moved to 33 Vernon Road, Leytonstone where he lived with his wife and Alice Kibblewhite, a 32 year-old assistant teacher from Claines in Worcestershire.
Frank Lloyd's signature on the 1911 Census of England & Wales where he is described as a Rate Collector for Stepney Borough Council.
- While on a visit to his sister-in-law, Mary Giesecke, at 43 Beaconsfield Street, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, Frank Lloyd fell ill and died there on 23 February 1912 from “bronchitis and peritonitis.” His personal effects were valued at £73 0s 11d and probate granted to his widow on 20 March.
- Lloyd was one of only two English members of Custer’s June 1876 Seventh Cavalry known to have died in this country, though the place of his burial remains unknown.
- There were no children from either of Lloyd’s marriages
- Jane Cooper Lloyd never remarried and died at 5 Cotherstone Road, Brixton Hill, south London, on 26 March 1936. Her personal effects were valued at £296 19s. 1d and probate granted to her sister, 87 year-old Mary Giesecke, on 29 April.
- No photograph or other image of Frank Lloyd has been found by this writer.