Sunday, August 02, 2020

A Survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn


When General Alfred Terry and his column arrived at the Little Bighorn on June 27, 1876, George Armstrong Custer and over two hundred men of the Seventh Cavalry were dead on the field.  All of the horses that survived had been taken by the Indians, except the mount of Captain Myles Keogh, a medium sized brown horse named Comanche.

Comanche had been with the Seventh Cavalry since its organization in 1866.  Sergeant Milton J. DeLacey found the horse in a ravine where it had gone to die.  Comanche’s wounds were serious but not fatal if properly attended.  The horse had seven bullet wounds.  Four wounds back of the foureshoulder, one in the hoof, and one in each hind leg.

Comanche was transported to Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, where he was nursed back to health. . In April 1878, Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis issued the following order:
Headquarters Seventh United States Cavalry, Fort A. Lincoln, D. T., April 10th, 1878. General Orders No. 7.
(1.) The horse known as 'Comanche,' being the only living representative of the bloody tragedy of the Little Big Horn, June 25th, 1876, his kind treatment and comfort shall be a matter of special pride and solicitude on the part of every member of the Seventh Cavalry to the end that his life be preserved to the utmost limit. Wounded and scarred as he is, his very existence speaks in terms more eloquent than words, of the desperate struggle against overwhelming numbers of the hopeless conflict and the heroic manner in which all went down on that fatal day.
(2.) The commanding officer of Company I will see that a special and comfortable stable is fitted up for him, and he will not be ridden by any person whatsoever, under any circumstances, nor will he be put to any kind of work.
(3.) Hereafter, upon all occasions of ceremony of mounted regimental formation, 'Comanche,' saddled, bridled, and draped in mourning, and led by a mounted trooper of Company I, will be paraded with the regiment.

When Comanche died in 1890, a taxidermist from the University of Kansas Natural History Museum prepared the horse for permanent exhibit. Other than being exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Comanche has been on permanent exhibit, in a glass case, at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, wearing his cavalry blanket and saddle.

No comments: