John Hay

John Hay

October 8, 1838 - July 1, 1905


Miles Keogh's Horse

by John Hay

On the bluff of the Little Big-Horn,
At the close of a woful day,
Custer and his Three Hundred
In death and silence lay.

Three Hundred to three Thousand!
They had bravely fought and bled;
For such is the will of Congress
When the White man meets the Red.

The White men are ten millions,
The thriftiest under the sun;
The Reds are fifty thousand,
And warriors every one.

So Custer and all his fighting men
Lay under the evening skies,
Staring up at the tranquil heaven
With wide, accusing eyes.

And of all that stood at noonday
In that fiery scorpion ring,
Miles Keogh's horse at evening
Was the only living thing.

Alone from that field of slaughter,
Where lay the three hundred slain,
The horse Comanche wandered,
With Keogh's blood on his mane.

And Sturgis issued this order,
Which future times shall read,
While the love and honor of comrades
Are the soul of the soldier's creed.

He said --

Let the horse Comanche
Henceforth till he shall die,
Be kindly cherished and cared for
By the Seventh Cavalry

He shall do no labor; he never shall know
The touch of spur or rein;
Nor shall his back be ever crossed
By living rider again.

And at regimental formation
Of the Seventh Cavalry,
Comanche draped in mourning and led
By a trooper of Company I,

Shall parade with the Regiment!

Thus it was
Commanded and thus done,
By order of General Sturgis, signed
By Adjutant Garlington.

Even as the sword of Custer,
In his disastrous fall,
Flashed out a blaze that charmed the world
And glorified his pall,

This order, issued amid the gloom
That shrouds our army's name,
When all foul beasts are free to rend
And tear its honest fame,

Shall prove to a callous people
That the sense of a soldier's worth,
That the love of comrades, the honor of arms,
Have not yet perished from earth.


Copyright 1897
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston