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Captain Myles W. Keogh: An Irishman In Custer's Cavalry

Captain Myles W. Keogh: An Irishman In Custer's Cavalry

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Captain Myles W. Keogh: An Irishman In Custer's Cavalry

168 pages
2 heures
Nov 10, 2017


This book has been several years in the writing and in contemplating that another book of the Custer battle or anything even relevant to it be necessary. How much more can be written? But of everything I've read, I've never had my two main questions answered. How was it that a man and horse could together be so shot up, unless they were together until the demise of one of them, and secondly whatever happened to the Papal medals Myles Keogh always wore and was found still on his body, the Indians leaving them behind? In my search for the answers to these questions I found a man that not many really know or understand, outside of being on a surviving mount. Not only was he a soldier, but a man who was proud of the prestige of his rank of Brevet Colonel in the United States Army.

Nov 10, 2017

À propos de l'auteur

Born in El Paso, Texas, I grew up in Iowa and was lucky enough to have parents that that had money to travel, a truck and 45' fifth wheel, and liked to travel. I've been in almost all of the fifty states, from the east coast to the west and have visited small bits of Canada and Mexico. As a major in history, I've visited the battlefield of the Little Big Horn; on three different occasions, Gettysburg Battlefield, and the Battle of Athens (which most have never visited, it sits on the border of Iowa and Missouri). I've been to as big a places as the Smithsonian Institute and small places as the grave of Chief Wapello located in Agency, Iowa and The Grotto of the Redemption in northern Iowa, which is well worth anyone's time, especially if you like rocks and history. I grew up, as ole horsemen say, on the back of a horse. I started riding by myself when I was three and when I was sixteen I started working at the tracks of Standardbred racing barns during the summers when we weren't travelling. After graduating high school I bought a couple of race horse; a six month old dark bay filly named J.C's "Blitz" DeVane and a little later a yearling sorrel colt named "Breezy" Judge, which I trained and raced myself, only needing to acquire a fair license to do so, compared to those who had pari-mutual license. My horse racing came to an abrupt end a few years later with a barn fire, in which none of the 12 head of horses died, The horse I'm pictured with is Breezy, the best horse I ever owned (and I've owned a lot of horses of different breeds) and passed from this earth when he was 25 years old. I went to college, attended R.O.T.C.; went to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training and earned a B.A. in history. My interest lying mostly in American history. Other than the above, many other experiences in life, and living in different places, have given me good resources for my writing: 1. Staying with my grandparents on their farm when I was very young is where I learned to ride and gave me knowledge of farming, which I later helped a farmer near where I grew up. 2. I work for my father; who is a Certified Public Accountant, doing taxes and bookkeeping. I started working for him when I was in middle school, and after health problems in our family, have come back to help him as of 2019. 3. I managed my dad's used car lot in Fairfield, Iowa. 4. I drove a semi with a 52' trailer over the road for 13 years. 5. I worked real estate and did real estate appraisal as a second job to OTR. 6. I've done construction work (helping my dad and brother put up my dad's office building from the ground up, plus many other projects for my dad, many which included pouring concrete every Fourth of July for more years than I care to think about. 7. I worked for a local manufacture making cabinets 8. While in college I cleaned at a hotel to pay my way through the first two years. 9. After college, while driving OTR (after the RE job) I sub-taught for two years. 10. I worked security for four years. 11. I do know how to cook, make garden and can food. That's my life wrapped up in a peanut shell. I decided to write non-fiction under my real name and fiction under the name GiAnna Moratelli. Just a good idea I thought to keep the two of them seperate.

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Aperçu du livre

Captain Myles W. Keogh - Linda Scott

Col. Myles W. Keogh

The Legend and The Man


Linda J. Scott


Linda J. Scott


This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents

Part I

Chapter 1 The Making Of A Colonel’s Legacy 2

Civil War Battles

Meaning of the name Keogh

Napoleon – the ‘forgotten’ horse

Horse casualties of the Civil War

Chapter 2 Comanche 6

Army qualifications


U.S. Grant on the breaking process

Tom Custer’s message to Lt. Smith on delivering horses to Hayes City

Company color assignments

Myle’s Keogh’s acquirement of the government horse Comanche

Finding Comanche and Napoleon at the Battlefield on the Big Horn River

Part II

Chapter 3 Myles Keogh; The Man 15

Growing up in Ireland


Women and Romance

Drinking and temper

Dealing with deserters

The regimental song Garry Owen

Chapter 4 Myles Keogh; The Soldier

Italy; the Papal War

Irish Volunteers

American Union recruitment

Seventh Cavalry

Fort Wallace

Part III

Chapter 5 The Sioux Campaign of 1876 57

Medicine Lodge Treaty and Fort Laramie Treaty

Custer’s Testimony

Black Hills

Curing the Indian Problem

Chapter 6 Into Battle 61

Lt. Gibson’s Letter to his wife

Keogh’s last few weeks of life

Indian Accounts

Finding the dead

Myle’s medals

Part IV

Chapter 7 The Comrades of Col. Myles Keogh who died with him 77

The Officers

The men of ‘Wild’ I Company

Chapter 8 Timeline of Col. Myles Keogh’s life 88


This book has been several years in the writing, and in contemplating whether or not another book of the Custer battle, or anything even relevant to it be necessary. How much mor can be written? But having in my library 46 books about Custer and Little Big Horn (not including books on cavalry horses and cavalry horse management, uniforms, a medical book, infantry tactics and just as many books on the Civil War) and having read, plodding through them taking extensive notes it began to bother me about the ‘myth’ of Captain Myles W. Keogh and the horse Comanche. Not only are these myths written, but they have been historically inaccurately made into movies and in song. And whatever happened to those Papal medallions that Keogh cherished so much that he wore every day to his death?

A good book about Captain Keogh was written by authors Pohanka, Langellier, and Cox, but they didn’t address dispel the myth about Keogh and Comanche, as other authors have, nor did they address my question about those medallions, which I had researched. My mother, Darlene said, Why don’t you write your own book? And so I have, and I’ve found much more information than I ever thought I would about a soldier that died at Little Big Horn, but even more so, about a man. A man who loved the prestige of being an officer in the United States Army.

Part I

Chapter 1

The Making Of

A Captain’s Legacy

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer became the Union’s boy general during the American Civil War for his heroic victories in battle over the Confederacy. However his gallantry in the Civil War has been overshadowed by a grim and ghastly defeat, when on June 25, 1876 he led 216 men to their untimely deaths on the plains of Montana along the Little Big Horn River. Every man of six companies of the Seventh Cavalry were killed and mutilated at the hands of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian. The names of the men who died with Custer have for the most part, long been forgotten, including his brother, Captain Thomas Ward Custer, who was a recipient of the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. The second most recognized cavalryman’s name is that of, Captain Myles Walter Keogh. Captain Keogh had a successful career in the Civil War, partaking in:

Battle of Port Republic, June 9, 1862

Battle of Second Manassas or Battle of Bull Run, August 28-30, 1862

Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862

Stoneman's 1863 Raid preceded the Battle of Chancellorsville, April – May 10, 1863

Gettysburg Campaign, June – July 24, 1863

Battle of Brandy Station or Battle of Fleetwood Hill, June 9, 1863

Battle of Upperville, June 21, 1863

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

Battle of Funkstown, July 10, 1863

Battle of Williamsport, July 6 – 16, 1863

Bristoe Campaign, October 1863 – November 1863

Atlanta Campaign, May 7, 1863 - September 2, 1864

Battle of Dallas, May 24, 1863 – June 4, 1864

Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, June 27, 1864

Battle of Sunshine Church, July 31, 1864, in which Brevet Major Myles Keogh became a prisoner of war.

With these battles to his credit and being promoted to Brevet rank of Major of Volunteers during the Civil War, and later during the Indian wars, as Brevet Colonel, Myles is not known for his bravery or heroics during the war or his sacrifice at the Battle of Little Big Horn, but has become known instead, simply because of a horse. The horse he rode to his death with the Seventh Cavalry, a clay-bank bay gelding named Comanche.

Ironic as it may be the name Keogh is an Irish surname. It is a reduced form on an Anglicisation of the Gaelic name Mac Eochaidh or MacEochaidh. The personal name Eochaidh is based upon the Gaelic eoch, meaning horse. Some origins of the name relate to the Normans, whom after they arrived in Ireland, rode horses and became known in the Tipperaray and Northern Limerick regions as MacEochaidh.

Had anyone else been riding Comanche that fateful day except Captain Myles Keogh, that person would be famous and Myles would have no more recognition than any other officer who died that day. But it was Myles who was astride Comanche that hot, blistering day on June 25, 1876, so he was lucky enough, or unlucky enough, to become famous after his death simply because of the horse he was riding.

Comanche, many claimed was the lone survivor on the battlefield of the Little Big Horn. Since then that statement has been debunked and has become laughable to those who study the Seventh Cavalry and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Egoistical men, like Captain Fredrick Benteen, who had been with the Seventh Cavalry on that fateful day, and been ordered to search the hills up from the river for Indians that might escape. And Major Marcus M. Reno, who was ordered to attack the village from the end, while Custer was circling around to hit the Indian encampment at the opposite end were probably not amused. Benteen and Reno having survived the ordeal with most of their men; probably were not be happy to play second fiddle to a ‘hero’ horse. But they had their own problems, such as answering to the military court of enquiry and the American public of why they didn’t go to Custer’s aide. Other than Comanche, there were other horses that survived the battle; horses that the Indians took and another one, other than Comanche, that they left behind. This horse was Nap.

Napoleon, known simply as Nap, which also survived and found on the Custer battlefield, was a grey horse from Company E, which unlike other companies, lost every man at the Battle of Little Bighorn. A few men from other companies were assigned to Reno in the valley or with McDougall, bringing up the pack mules, which carried extra ammunition, but every man from E Company was with Custer. Nap, like Comanche, was also wounded and found wandering the remains of the Indian encampment along the river opposite the battlefield. He was photographed with Comanche after their recovery, being held by blacksmith Gustav Korn of I Company, a survivor of the Reno battle in the valley. But of all the horses that survived, it was Comanche that became famous. Even after his death his body was sent to a taxidermist so that his presence may live forever.

The story of Myles W. Keogh and that of Comanche actually begins with the American Civil War. In Comanche’s case it was from the effects the war had on horses in this country which resulted in him, and horses like him, being purchased by the army as a frontier cavalry mounts.

The five years of Civil War between Confederate and Union troops had resulted in over one million horses and mules being slaughtered on the battlefields. Fifteen hundred horses alone were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg and it was reported that Brevet General George Armstrong Custer had eleven horses shot out from under him. Several horses and mules died from starvation during the winter months of the war, particularly toward the end when the Union Generals ordered that winter forage for livestock in the south, which bore most of the war, be destroyed. This was done to keep feed from the Confederacy, but unfortunately it kept it from them as well. Although horses and mules died in winter from starvation, the harsh wet spring weather wasn’t any better; many horses and mules died or were disabled trudging through the mud, trying to pull heavy wagons and the heavy guns. The horses and mules that broke down were destroyed or simply left behind, many which would never again lead fully productive lives again. Even in summer grass was scarce, forage having to be shared with the huge herds cattle needed to feed the army.

Myles Walter Keogh would join the American Civil War in 1862. Through most of the war Myles rode his favorite horse Tom, possibly a grey horse that he was photographed astride of at some time during the war. Although he had more horses than the one; Keogh only ever mentions his horse Tom in the letters he wrote home to Ireland. He wrote his sister Ellen, mentioning Tom on more than one occasion. On October 2, 1864, Myles wrote of ‘his gallant charger’ saving his life that day:

… my old charger that had carried me through so many dangers since the battle of Port Republic when Kelley was wounded…. I suddenly rode into a heavy outlying picket of the enemy, he wrote. Tom saw them as they rose up to deliver their fire and jumped sideways over a rail fence into the wood skirting the road and carried me safely out of danger.i

On the July 31, 1865, Myle’s charger Tom was shot out from under him and Myles, along with five hundred other Union solders, was taken prisoner. Myles again wrote of his beloved horse to his sister:

The poor fellow, I shall never have a horse like him again.ii

Breeding farms in the south which bred and raised fine Thoroughbred and Trotting racehorses, later in 1868 to become registered as Standardbreds, were highly sought after, especially by officers. Many of the Southern breeding farms were raided by the Union Army, their best stock being stolen. Several of these horses were killed, others were never recovered, their pedigrees lost forever. No doubt the war influenced future generations.

General Phil Sheridan apprehended a grey Standardbred pacer from a Confederate Colonel. The horse was never returned to its rightful owner and later perished in the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871, where Sheridan was headquartered while in command of the Department of the Missouri.

In April of 1865, after the war was officially over, General George Armstrong Custer hunted down a famous thoroughbred stallion, possibly a trotter, as he was hitched to a sulky after being stolen, by the name of Don Juan. The horse was known to be in Custer’s vicinity while in Virginia, and after finding the horse, stole him, making the caregiver write out a bill of sale and give him the pedigree. Custer had the nerve to ride Don Juan in a parade down the street of Washington

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