of the Battle of Little Bighorn
In 1868, a part Mustang-part Morgan horse was
bought by the U.S. Army at an auction in St.
Louis, Missouri, and sent to Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas. Captain Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry
liked the horse and bought him for his own
Not long after arriving at Fort Leavenworth,
Captain Keogh rode his horse into battle against
Comanche Indians near Fort Dodge, Kansas.
Although wounded in the hindquarters by an arrow,
the horse did not falter and allowed Keogh to
continue fighting. It is said that Keogh cradled
his horse's head after the battle while a farrier
removed the arrow and a doctor tended the wound.
It was the horse's tenacity and toughness during
the ordeal that led to Keogh giving him the name
Comanche, and those same qualities would serve
Comanche well several more times.
In 1870, Comanche was shot in the leg during a
skirmish near the Saline River, and once again he
failed to falter. In 1871, while Keogh was trying
to calm an unruly crowd at an illegal distillery
in Kentucky, Comanche received a flesh wound in
his right shoulder; as he had twice before,
Comanche took his wound in stride.
Keogh and Comanche continued to serve together
over the next few years, but most of those years
were relatively uneventful. On June 26, 1876,
however, Captain Keogh and Comanche were part of
A. Custer's army at the Battle
of the Little Bighorn. Captain Keogh was
among the dead found by General Alfred Terry's
men after the battle, but the badly injured
Comanche was not found until two days later.
Despite being shot at least four times, Comanche
was still able to stand and walk, albeit very
weakly, and he was transported to Fort Lincoln
(near present-day Bismarck, South Dakota) with
other wounded soldiers and horses.
After a long convalescence, Comanche was
officially retired from the U.S. Army. On April
10, 1878, Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis, commander of
the Seventh Cavalry, issued an order that
Comanche never again be ridden and that he be
cared for and tended as a hero. When the 7th
Cavalry moved to Fort Meade (South Dakota) in
June 1879, Comanche moved with them, and he was
still with the unit when it moved to Fort Riley,
Kansas, in 1887.
After Comanche died at Fort Riley in 1890, the
7th Cavalry wanted to preserve him and sent his
remains to the University of Kansas, where the
best taxidermist in the state was located. By the
time the taxidermy process was completed,
however, the Army had decided that Comanche's
propaganda value was limited and chose not to
pick him up (or to pay for the taxidermist's
services). The univeristy chose to keep Comanche,
and he has been on display in its Dyche Museum of
Natural History ever since.
George A. Custer
of the Little Bighorn
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