WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ Custer's last shirt, a raggedy wool garment billed as once belonging to the Army general most remembered for Custer's Last Stand, has been sold to the owner of a New York gallery for $32,000.

''The dramatic interest is because this is a thing that was right next to Custer. It's as close as you could get to Custer without getting a piece of Custer, and you couldn't do that,'' said Bruce Gimelson.

He bid on behalf of Alexander Acevedo, owner of Alexander Gallery in New York.

The company that auctioned the shirt Saturday listed it as Gen. George Armstrong Custer's last shirt because no other garments are left from the wardrobe of the Civil War veteran. He died in the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana in 1876 when his command was wiped out by the Sioux.

The navy blue shirt, trimmed in faded yellow, allegedly was given by Custer's wife to one of the general's orderlies. William O. Taylor, who fought under Custer, then obtained the shirt from the orderly and in 1885 donated it to the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, Mass. The museum recently decided to sell the shirt and some other Custer memorabilia.

Bidding started at $10,000 and rapidly increased, with Gimelson bidding against Phillip Loeffler of West Berlin, Germany. Loeffler's last bid was for $30,000.

The shirt had been appraised by Riba-Mobley Auctions Inc. at $40,000 to $60,000.

Acevedo said the shirt would remain in his private collection. He also paid $13,000 for two arrows removed from soldiers killed at Little Bighorn and said they also will be in his personal collection.