Monday, April 30, 2007

Spotlight on History--Comanche, the 7th Calvary war horse

Well I was going through my music collection today when I hit upon the song by Johnny Horton entitled "Comanche the Brave Horse. It's always been a hauntingly powerful song, and as I listened to it, I decided to do a bit of digging. Is this a true story? Who was this horse?

Well I found out. Comanche was real and he served this country with pride and distinction before and after the epic slaughter of his command at Little Big Horn. Here he is:

Comanche was a 15 hand bay gelding, thought to be part mustang and part Morgan. He was bought by the U.S. Army in 1868 in St. Louis, and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was a good looking horse, and instead of being kept with the regular cavalry, Captain, Myles Keogh, bought him for $90 to use as his personal mount. He normally rode his horse Paddy on marches, Comanche following with the other extra horses. Comanche was the horse Captain Keogh rode into battle, the horse being fresh because he was only mounted at the last moment before the fighting began. He was a war horse.

Captain Keogh was in Custer's 7th Cavalry. In the fall of 1868, his unit fought the Comanche tribe in Kansas. During the battle, the horse was wounded, but the Captain did not know that and continued to fight from his back until the battle was over. Afterward, he discovered an arrow broken off in the horse's hindquarters. The wound was treated and after the horse recovered, he had earned the name Comanche for his bravery in continuing to carry his master despite his own pain.

In 1870 during a battle again against the Comanche tribe, the horse was wounded in the leg. He was lame for over a month this time, but recovered. Then, in 1871, Comanche was wounded in battle once more, this time in his shoulder, and once again, he recovered quickly. The cavalry was very proud of this brave horse who continued to go into battle despite being wounded so many times.

In 1876, Captain Keogh rode Comanche into the valley of the Little Big Horn and the battle known as Custer's Last Stand. This time they were fighting the Soux and Cheyenne tribes, and it was the last great battle for the Native Americans. They defeated the 7th cavalry and killed every soldier. The only member of the 7th cavalry left alive after the battle was Comanche.

Comanche was found two days after the battle with many wounds, and was very weak and barely able to stand. He was taken in a steam boat to Fort Lincoln, where he was so weak he had to be supported by a sling. He was nursed back to health, once again recovering from his battle wounds.

Comanche was officially retired and it was ordered that no one would ever ride him again. He was called "the Second Commanding Officer" of the 7th Cavalry. His only duties were to be lead in the front of official parades occasionally. It is said he developed a fondness for beer in his later years, and was such a pet at the fort that he was often indulged in this habit. He lived to the age of 29, and when he died his body was mounted and put on display at the University of Kansas, where it stands to this day.

And the song, for those who haven't heard it or would like to hear it again:


  1. Anonymous6:38 PM

    Custer's and his band of evil troops got what they had coming to them.
    Since the U.S. murdered the Confederate troops and destoyed a new country, the union troops weren't finish murdering, so Custer went West to murder the American Indians.
    The U.S. had no right what they did and the american indians gave it to them.

    Long live the american indians.


  2. actually used the word "murder" three times in a single sentence.

    I'm curious to know how the United States Army "murdered" Confederate troops. Are you saying that the Confederates were not armed men who had fired on federal troops and federal installations? It looks to me more like a fair fight that the Confederates both started and eventually lost.

    Likewise, the Indian Wars were in actuality comprised of battles between armed Indians and armed soldiers, many of whom were Confederate veterans, adding a neat twist.

    Now the Indians may have gotten a raw deal at times but let's not forget that they also were far from being peaceful and they frequently attacked and slaughtered American settlers when not busy attacking and slaughtering each other.

  3. What puzzles me is this. Archaeologists have gone over the battle site and identified places where there are fallen bullets and cartridges. The evidence suggests that the calvalry had dismounted and was fighting on foot, their horses left a short distance behind (with guards, I assume). That made sense in some ways because the Cavalry was on a hill, being attacked from below. They didn't want to be silhoetted unnecessarily as that would have made them easier targets. Already they were disadvantaged because they had single-shot rifles, whilst the Native Americans had repeating weapons (and better tactics too in this battle). So was Comanche actually "the only survivor", or simply the only horse that the Native American forces didn't capture and take for their own use (perhaps because he had been injured)?

    Personally, I have great sympathy for the Native Americans, who were the victims of a great land grab. Who can blame them for fighting back? It's a tragedy that there was not room for all in such an enormous continent.

  4. Anonymous10:12 PM

    I guess you don't get it?

    How can you say the Confederates started the war.

    Under a white flag Lincoln (Tyrant) moved troops toward Fort Sumter and into the Panhandle of Florida. Lincoln didn't want peace with the South, he wanted a war and when he moved his troops under the white flag, the Confederacy had no choice but to fire. The enemy was on top of them while under the white flag.

    It's not "he who fired first", it's who moved first toward their enemy who started the war.

    Therefore, if Lincoln was looking for peace, he wouldn't have never started the war, therefore he murdered Southern americans.

    It's not a fair fight when Lincoln sent his troops into Maryland and arrested the Mayor and murdered 12 civilians doing us. To be fair, the civilians struck back and killed four of Lincolns army for invading their country.

    Now to the indians.... I cannot believe you said what you said. The american indians owned the land and the U.S. army had no right to go and murder these folk.
    The U.S. justified the murders by calling these folks...savages. By calling them savages, the american public didn't care what the U.S. did to them.

    "may have gotten a Raw deal".... Wow, may have? I feel sorry for folks like you.

    What about the U.S. army handing out Smallpot blankets to the indians?


  5. OK, here we go...

    1. Fort Sumter was a federal installation that was within the boundaries of the United States of America. I don't know what "white flag" you refer to, because that fort was occupied long before the secessionists surrounded it with cannons and began firing into it. You need to go back and study your history. Of course if you did, you'd also learn that the United States never gave smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians. That never happened--it's purely a fiction and it's been investigated thoroughly by historians and totally debunked.

    You see, this is where I have a problem with you militia guys. You have no pride in or respect for America or the people who founded it and built it up. You just call everyone "evil" or label them "Nazis", and "tyrants" but you can never show actual justification for those slanders. And here you've gone and misrepresented historical fact twice and done just that.

    If you guys spent half as much time supporting this country as you do fabricating reasons to hate it maybe you'd know the pride that comes from being an American and you wouldn't have to stockpile guns and ammunition in support of some paranoid "the government's coming to get us" fantasy.

    And what really confuses me is that you claim to be in our National Guard. How can you pretend to serve and accept benefits from a country that you obviously hold in such disdain? I figure that you and the other militia members would have moved away to some other country that offers you more freedom by now but for some reason you guys are all still here. What's up with that?

  6. Anonymous6:54 PM

    Ha. You don't get it and if I keep telling you the truth like I have, you'll turn a blind eye to the fact which you choose not to see.

    Hello Brick wall - You'll never get it, So I'll not waste my time with sheeples like you.

    I'm more of an American patriot then you'll ever will be and that's a fact.


  7. Yes, yes... You're "more patriotic" than I am. I'm surprised that you didn't add that your dad could beat up mine, too.

    However, your "patriotism" seems to be based on using false historical claims to delude yourself into believing that America is and always has been an evil, horrible country, and your reason for this is because you want justification for the day that you eventually screw up your courage and begin shooting your neighbors.

    If that's your idea of patriotism, you can have it. Tim McVeigh must have been your idea of the messiah.

    I can't top your hate, but I can claim true allegiance to this country, it's lawful government, and the things that we've done to make the world a better place since we became a nation. I'm proud to be an American and like many, many other Americans, I've taken an oath to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic. And I regard you militia wanna-be's as just the type of enemy, domestic that this country will only be better off without.

  8. Anonymous2:09 PM

    I'm sorry to see that this topic brings out the...extreme people. I blogged about your post on my horse blog (see Links to This Post) and was promptly set upon by the pro-mustang brigade. And horse people wonder why the general population think they're nuts. I really enjoy your blog and your level-headed attitude; please keep up the good work!

  9. Anonymous1:17 AM

    Comanche really was the "brave horse", continuing to go into battle over and over like that, I'm old and have been listening to Johnny Horton sing this since I was 10. Also read up on the real Comanche and his Captain. Agree with IRONCLAD somewhat, am too old to express it that way. We all wish we'd done the Indians better, South had every right to secede from the Union and President Lincoln, the "chief officer of a democracy" was less than Honest Abe.

  10. Anonymous4:46 PM

    3:09Pm poster -

    Thanks, at least someone out there opens their eyes.

    'me" wake up and stop believing what the U.S. government is spoon feeding you. How do I know, I was one just like you who was born up North. When I did my own research (without either side teaching) I then learnt the truth.


  11. Anonymous4:51 PM

    2:17am poster:

    At least someone has their eyes open. Thanks

    "me" - you should open your eyes as well. Stop being spoon fed by the government when thye teach U.S. history.
    How do I know this, I was bord up north who was taught the yankee' lie. After doing my "OWN" research, I realized I was lied too.

  12. Uh, anti-government conspiracy theories aside, you DO realize that those two posts that you replied to were put up here in April of 2007, don't you?