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The Return to BismarckComanche Saved!

On the night of June 28, the entire command began its movement down the Little Bighorn Valley to the site where the steamer Far West was moored to the river bank. The progress was so tedious and slow that only 4-1/2 miles were covered, making the first camp just west of the Custer Battlefield. Most of the next day was spent in destroying the enormous amount of camp equipment and supplies left behind by the Indians.

Transporting the wounded on hand litters proved so unsatisfactory that mule litters were constructed and used with more ease. Although the march, which began again the evening of the 29th, was intended to be only a short one, information was received that the steamer Far West was at the mouth of the Little Bighorn, and it was decided to push on to that point. By 2 o'clock on the morning of the 30th, all the wounded were safely on board the boat.

The Far West immediately moved down to the mouth of the Bighorn River where it was necessary to wait 2 days to ferry General Gibbon's troops across the Yellowstone. On July 3, the steamer started down the river and on to the Missouri, Captain Marsh made the journey of over 700 miles to Fort Abraham Lincoln in 54 hours, a record never equaled again by packet boats on the Missouri River.

One lone survivor who had served under Custer's immediate command was found amid the havoc on the battlefield. This was Comanche, Captain Keogh's horse. Wounded in seven places, Comanche was also carried to Fort Abraham Lincoln and was nursed back to health and placed on the retired list by regimental order. No person was allowed to ride or work the horse, which was saddled, bridled, and paraded at every ceremony of the regiment. At the age of 30 years, Comanche died at Fort Riley, Kans., where the regiment was then stationed. The horse's body was prepared by Prof. L. L. Dyche, of the University of Kansas, and is now displayed in the Dyche Museum at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kans.

Comanche, "the only living thing found on Custer Battlefield." This photograph was taken at Fort Lincoln, 1877, about 1 year after the battle. Blacksmith Korn is holding the bridle and Capt. H. J. Nowlan, Seventh Cavalry, is in the background.
(Photograph by courtesy Haynes, Inc.. Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.)


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Last Modified: Sat, Sep 28 2002 10:00:00 pm PDT

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