The Horse That Survived the Battle of Little Bighorn
Comanche was known as the sole survivor of General George Custer's command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.
The mustang was born about 1862, captured in a wild horse roundup, gelded and sold to the U.S. Army Cavalry on April 3, 1868, for $90. He was a bay, just over 900 pounds, stood 15 hands high with a small white star on his forehead and became the favorite mount for Captain Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry. Comanche participated in frequent actions of the Regiment and sustained some 12 wounds as a result of these skirmishes.
Two days after the Custer defeat, a burial party investigating the site found the severely wounded horse and transported him by steamer to Fort Lincoln, 950 miles away, where he spent the next year recuperating. Comanche remained with the 7th Cavalry and was never again ridden under orders excusing him from all duties. Most of the time he roamed the Post freely, visiting the flower gardens often. Only at formal regimental functions was he led, draped in black, stirrups and boots reversed, at the head of the Regiment.
When the Cavalry was ordered to Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1888, the elderly horse, still in moderate good health, accompanied them and continued to receive full honors as a symbol of the Little Bighorn tragedy. Finally, on November 7, 1891, about 29 years old, Comanche died of colic.
The officers of the 7th Cavalry, wanting to preserve the horse, asked Lewis Lindsay Dyche of the University of Kansas to mount the remains: skin and major bones. Comanche is currently on display in a humidity controlled glass case at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Dyche Hall, Lawrence, Kansas.