The Silent Survivor
Acrylic on Canvas ~ 2000
30 x 50″ ~ 76 x 125 cm
The battle at Little Bighorn in 1876 was a tragedy for all concerned. Five companies from the 7th Cavalry under Lieutenant Colonel Custer were defeated by the First Nations Tribes leaving no survivors. But Little Bighorn also marked the end of a way of life for the free roaming Plains Indians, within a few years of the battle they were all forced onto reservations.
When General Terry and Colonel Gibbion’s forces reached the Little Bighorn River two days after the battle, they found one survivor, a horse, standing as a lone sentinel over the dead. Wounded seven times and near death itself, the horse was recognized as Captain Myles Keogh’s mount Comanche. The soldiers nursed the horse back to health. After Comanche recovered from his wounds, he was ordered never to be ridden and on ceremonial occasions he was led out with an empty saddle to stand watch. Comanche became the revered mascot of the remaining seventh cavalry. His stall was never closed so he wandered freely around Fort Abraham Lincoln. He enjoyed spending time with the men, and it was said that he acquired a taste for beer.