Comanche is the stuff from which legends are made! He was a 15 hand bay gelding of mixed breed...thought to be Morgan and Mustang. (See the post on Justin Morgan for more on Morgans.) He was purchased by the army in 1868 in St. Louis, Missouri and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Captain Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry bought him as his personal battle mount. Later that year, Captain Keogh rode in a battle against the Comanche Indians in Kansas where the sturdy horse suffered a serious wound from an arrow to the hindquarters. Yet, this brave little horse kept going. This is where he earned his name. In fact, Comanche was wounded in several battles, yet he always countinued to carry Captain Keogh through them.On June 25, 1876, Captain Keogh rode him behind Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. This famous battle resulted in the death of the entire detachment of soldiers but Comanche and nearly 100 horses and one yellow bulldog survived. The Legend is that only Comanche survived but this is not true. In terms of fame and reputation I guess you could say it is true as his remains are kept protected at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum to this day. Anyway, Comanche was found two days later in very bad shape. He was transported to Fort Lincoln and was nursed back to health and retired.
I found the following order on Wikipedia that you will find interesting:
In April 1878, Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis issued the following humane 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, saddled, bridled, and draped in mourning, and led by a mounted trooper of Company I, will be paraded with the regiment.
By command of Col. Sturgis, E. A. Garlington, First Lieutenant and Adjutant, Seventh Cavalry."
Comanche then lived a life of luxury and was honored to be made "Second Commanding Officer" of the 7th Cavalry.
In 1887, he was taken to Fort Riley, Kansas where he lived out his days. He died in 1890. He is one of only two horses in U.S. history to be buried with full military honors. (See the post on Black Jack.)
At least two songs have been written about him. Enjoy this one:
I hereby nominate Comanche to the Legion of the Unicorn. May he wear his horn with honor!
Read about the Legion of the Unicorn in the first book of the Mist Trilogy: Behind the Mist.
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