The Michigan Brigade, sometimes called the Wolverines, the Michigan Cavalry Brigade or Custer's Brigade, was a brigade of cavalry in the volunteer Union Army during the latter half of the American Civil War. Composed primarily of the 1st Michigan Cavalry, 5th Michigan Cavalry, 6th Michigan Cavalry and 7th Michigan Cavalry, the Michigan Brigade fought in every major campaign of the Army of the Potomac from the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.
The brigade first gained fame during the Gettysburg Campaign under the command of youthful Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer. After the war, several men associated with the brigade joined the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment and later fought again under Custer in the Old West frontier.
The Michigan Cavalry Brigade was created on December 12, 1862. The larger brigade was assigned to the newly promoted Custer, who assumed command near Westminster, Maryland. The Michigan Brigade saw its first combat action as an entity at the Battle of Hanover in southern Pennsylvania on June 30, 1863. There, Custer's men were deployed as a strong advance skirmish line south of town. Two days later, on July 2, the brigade participated in the Battle of Hunterstown, where one of the Wolverines, Norville Churchill, rescued a fallen Custer, who was pinned in the road under his slain horse.At the Battle of Gettysburg, the Michigan Brigade along the Hanover Road. On the third day, the brigade fought in piecemeal fashion, with the 5th and 6th serving as dismounted skirmishers near the John Rummel farm on the left of the battlefield, while first the 7th and then the 1st Michigan charged into a growing mounted melee in the center. Custer's cry of "Come on, you Wolverines!" became the rallying cry of the brigade.