Comanche: An Honorable Horse



I like history, especially what is considered old west history. A lot is written about the outlaws, gunfighters, and the lawmen of the day, but I’d like to write about a horse. His name was Comanche. It’s been said he is the lone survivor of the 7th Calvary that fought with Custer at Little Big Horn.

A horse is out there in the battle field because his rider rode him there. They are still a horse, prone to run in fright when things get scary in his world. A Calvary horse is trained to go into a fight and stay by their soldier, most of them to the last. Comanche did likewise. In his case he survived his many wounds and apparently overcame the stress of being in a war scrimmage. He was found in the Little Big Horn River a while after the battle was over.


After the Battle

Soldiers were preparing to bury the dead on June 27, 1876. Everything was quiet, the aftermath had to be an awful sight. But in the midst they heard a pitiful whinny and were led to Comanche trying to get out of the river where he had fallen. He was wounded at least seven times.

His rider was Captain Myles Keogh. Comanche had been the captain’s favorite horse. When the captain was found surrounded by dead troopers, it was seen his knee was shot to pieces and the bullet went through his chest and had been one of the bullets that found its mark in Comanche’s flank. It told the story that they had fallen together. Comanche had been able to get up and make it to the river where he was found alive.


Wounds and Honor

Comanche was taken by train, along with other wounded soldiers to recuperate and heal from his wounds. This took most of a year. He lived out his life for the next 15 years as the 7th Calvary mascot. He would be in parades, but not ridden. His was an honorary position. Orders were given and carried out that the great horse would be well cared for for the rest of his life.

The farrier Gustave Korn was Comanche’s soul care giver. They were together most of the time. Comanche had the run of the fort. He would roam from stable to officer’s quarters and anyplace in between picking up treats along the way.


Comanche in Calvary attire on display at KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum.
Comanche in Calvary attire on display at KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum.

An Army Horse

Comanche’s life as an army horse began when he was bought for $90. After his training he was among the chosen to be part of the 7th Calvary. This was May 19, 1868. It’s thought this was when Captain Keogh first saw him and wanted him for his mount. They were together until that awful day at Little Big Horn.


Two Stories About the Name

It’s not exactly known how Comanche came by his name. There are two stories and neither can be said to be truth. It was either when Captain Keogh and he were fighting Comanche’s and the horse was injured by an arrow. A soldier said the horse sounded like a Comanche screaming. Hence they gave him the name. The other story says Keogh’s horse had been killed and a soldier gave him his horse who turned out to be Comanche. This story doesn’t hold a lot of credibility and the first story seems to be the most accepted.


A Bit More

Comanche stood 15 hands and was of a dark buckskin color. He and Gustave Korn became close and were hardly out of each others sight. Korn was killed at Wounded Knee. Comanche’s heart was broken when his soldier didn’t come home. It was said he went down hill physically after that and died on November 7, 1891.

People could still not let the brave horse go. Comanche was mounted and preserved and is on display at Dyche Natural History Museum located on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas. I would like to see Comanche in his air tight glass box and pay him honor.

Thank you for stopping by my hitching post. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I’ll do my best to answer. Let me know if you’d like to read about other horses in history. I’m planning on writing more historical accounts of famous or not so famous horses.

I would like to thank the KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum and give credit for the use of the image of Comanche.

Other images courtesy of

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