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Comanche: Lone Survivor

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Photo And Article Provided by John Doerner, Park Historian, Little Bighorn Battlefield 

Comanche photograph by John C.H. Grabill, 1887, Ft. Meade, D.T., Library of Congress Collection

Webmaster's Note: Comanche is better known as the lone survivor of Custer's Last Stand. However, there were other horses found alive and taken from the battlefield. Godfrey took one horse to be his own.


Click on photo to enlarge


Comanche 1862-1891

Age: 29 (1891)

Height: 15 Hands

Color: Buckskin

Peculiar Markings: Left hind fetlock white, black tail & mane, white saddle marks, small white star on forehead, bullet wounds.

Condition: Unserviceable

Purchased By: Unknown

Date Unserviceable: June 25, 1876 from wounds received in Battle of the Little Bighorn, Montana

Severe Wounds from Little Bighorn (three severe & four flesh wounds): 1) through the neck; 2) just behind front shoulder passing through; 3) in hindquarter, passing between hind legs.

Date of Death:: November 9, 1891 at Fort Riley, Kansas and his remains mounted for exhibition by Professor Lewis Dyche, for display at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.

Present Location: On permanent exhibit at the Natural History Museum, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Comanche was purchased in 1868 at a cost of $90.00.  Captain Myles W. Keogh, commander, Company I, 7th Cavalry is said to have chosen Comanche as his personal mount in September 1868, but this is disputed.  Private James Severs, Company M, 7th Cavalry is among those credited with discovering Comanche on the Custer Battlefield, weak with bullet and arrow wounds.  He was nursed back to health and brought back with the wounded to Fort Abraham Lincoln, aboard the Far West for recuperation. After a lengthy convalescence in a special sling and stall at the post, he soon became the venerated regimental mascot and accompanied the regiment until his death at Fort Riley, Kansas on November 9, 1891.  General Order No. 7, April 10, 1878 serves today as a fitting epitaph to this old warhorse: 



                         April 10, 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, Montana, June 25, 1876, his kind treatment and comfort should be a matter of special pride and solicitude on the part of the 7th Cavalry, to the end that his life may be prolonged to the utmost limit.  Though wounded and scarred, his very silence speaks in terms more eloquent than words of the desperate struggle against overwhelming odds of the hopeless conflict, and heroic manner in which all went down that day.

 2)  The commanding officer of I troop will see that a special and comfortable stall is fitted up for Comanche; he will not be ridden by any person whatever under any circumstances, nor will he be put to any kind of work.

 3)     Hereafter upon all occasions of ceremony (of mounted regimental formation), Comanche, saddled, bridled, and led by a mounted trooper of Troop I, will be paraded with the regiment.

                     By Command of Colonel Sturgis:

                                 (Signed) E.A. Garlington,

                                  1st Lieutenant and Adjutant,

                                   7th U.S. Cavalry

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