Monday, March 3, 2014

From RobH: 28mm Indian Wars - Survivor of the 7th: 'Comanche' (10 points)

From Rob:
Comanche was supposed to be my entry into the Casualty Round. However, I wasn't pleased with the rushing needed to submit him last weekend, so I took a few more days to finish until I was pleased with the result. I think it was the right choice, though Comanche's story fits well with the Casualty theme. 

I chose a 28mm Sash and Saber casting, from their Union horse holder set. I have several of the Sash and Saber horseholders (Union and Confederate) as the Perry ones. I chose the Sash and Saber horse specifically for the military bearing the horse sculpt has - tall chest out, proud eyes, front, standing tall - all befitting the 2nd Commanding Officer, 7th United States Cavalry.

Comanche was a 15-hand high bay gelding, purchased by Capt. Myles Keogh, 7th US Cavalry, to be his personal mount in battle. Comanche apparently got his name when he was wounded in his hindquarters by an arrow. Comanche carried Keogh throughout Keogh's service with the 7th, until the Little Bighorn. Comanche is often noted as the "sole survivor" of Custer's two battalions at the Little Bighorn, but many other horses survived. Comanche was found, two days after the battle, He was loaded aboard the Far West with the other wounded of the 7th Cavalry, and nursed back to health. Per the order of Col. Samuel Sturgis, Comanche entered a semi-retired status of honor in the regiment:

"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, 'Comanche,' 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 served with the regiment during their time at Fort Meade, and with the Regiment when they moved to Fort Riley. He had the freedom of the post, would form up with Company I during parades, and was named the Regiment's "Second Commanding Officer." He formed a bond with his keeper, Pvt Gustave Korn, and they became inseparable - with Comanche even leaving the post to go look for Korn, if Korn had not returned to the post in time for nightly feeding. Here's where Comanche's story takes the sad turn. Korn was killed at the Battle of Wounded Knee, and Comanche never recovered. He lingered on through 1891, until dying of colic - or, perhaps, a broken heart. The members of the Seventh were devastated, and Comanche remains one of two horses given a funeral with full military honors.
Comanche was preserved by Professor Dyche of the University of Kansas, for $400 and the right to display him at the 1893 Exposition in Chicago. For reasons unknown, the officers of the Seventh could not pay the $400, and so Comanche remains on display at the University of Kansas.
And now here he waits, in the shade of the trees, for the Seventh to parade.

A fabulous entry and a very touching bit of history - thanks for sharing this with us Rob. Actually I think 'Comanche' could have easily been an excellent entry for either of the casualty, hero, character or last stand rounds.

'Comanche' will give Rob double points for a steed as I believe the sentiment supports it.


  1. Wonderful history. And a great painting work.

  2. Great work nice to read the history too

  3. Great bit of history and work on this model


  4. This certainly deserves the extra points. Nice work Rob

  5. Well done Rob. Fascinating stuff!

  6. Thanks, everybody. I'm quite pleased with how he turned out, though not as pleased about the photography - still learning.

    I distilled Comanche's tale down to the bare essentials, but he was as much a character in his own right as Keogh, the Custer(s), Benteen, or any of the other very colorful characters who formed the Seventh. There's the story of his interview with a Dakota newspaper after the Little Bighorn, the (alleged) backstory about why Col. Sturgis forbade Comanche be ridden (supposedly one of his daughters got into a snit that somebody else got to ride Comanche), apparently he may have gone on campaign with the regiment, and down to his current neglect at the University of Kansas, where much of the regalia and mementos of his tenure with the 7th have been packed away because they're not "natural history."

    I agree he would have worked for many themed entries, but he also might have gotten lost in the clutter. So, here, he gets a moment to shine.

  7. Your right, he deserves his own special post. One where people will take the time to read his story and to appreciate the meaning behind this beautiful entry.

  8. Great post. Real interesting story and subject.

  9. Nice horse and very interesting story.


Thanks for your comment! As long as you're not a spam droid I'll have it up on the blog soon. :)