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As legend has it, the sole survivor of the infamous Battle of the Little Big Horn was Comanche, Captain Keogh's horse. As the Members of the besieged group of soldiers from the Reno Hill picked their way through the dead and destruction on Custer Hill, they heard a faint whinny from what was left of Comanche. The blood and gore spattered horse had at least seven wounds, but none of them fatal, and Comanche lived for another 15 years. When he died, Comanche was stuffed and put on display at the Dyche Hall of the Natural History Museum in Kansas, where he still stands today.  


While I have a problems with stuffing a hero (be it human or
animal) what it even more morbidly sensationalist is the series
of photographs documenting the process of stuffing Comanche. 

The image was taken from Garry Owen's web narration of his quest to see Comanche.  Not being an American, I can't fully understand the emotion, but as Owen writes, Comanche "stands as a physical link for all of us to Custer, Keogh, the 7th Cavalry, the Little Bighorn, and to that intangible inner spirit that defines us as Americans." 


In other words, Comanche has become what Judith Pascoe terms an "association object," that is, "a means of literal and imaginative transport" back in time to a particular moment or event. There is always something sensationalist in the association object especially if it - like Comanche - is on public display.  Like tours to murder scenes or displaying the body parts of heros and criminals, Comanche is physical evidence of a real historical event and its human and animal players.  But however real the Battle of the Little Big Horn was, Comanche like all souvenirs is laden with a culture's fantasies and reveries about what that particular event has come to embody. 

Read about Comanche's big move +

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Reader Comments (4)

Comanche is a wonderful specimen from Civil War history. He is easily found in the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History in Lawrence, KS. I heartily recommend everyone to come visit!
March 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSynthia
Err Commanche is not "a wondeful specimen of Civil War History", Commanche's appointment with history occured some ten years after the Civil War had ended. Also is the quote the author cites really really from a Mr. "Gary Owen"? Is the author of this blog falling victim of a pun based on the regimental march of the 7th "The Garryowen"?

Finally, lets get away from the alleged deep analysis of "association objects", mythology and analogies to Murder scenes etc in an attempt to sound profound. Comanche is a tangible and easily comprehensible link to a historical even and should simply be appreciated as that.
July 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVeritas
I named my horse after Comanche when i got him. My Comanche is a lot like the "legit" Comanche, in loyalty and looks, and even breed and personality. IT was rele neat to see him on display!
July 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa
There is nothing mythological about the Battle of Little Bighorn, it was a real historical event. The entire 7th Calvary was defeated by Lakota fighters. Crazy Horse had a big hand in Lakota victory. I agree with Veritas that Comanche is a tangible link to an important part of American (and Native American) History.

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDevo

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