Tag Archives: Little Bighorn

The Battle of Little Bighorn

Visitors climb the path to Last Stand Hill where marble headstones mark where members of the United States 7th Cavalry fell in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, including that of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

 

When I started studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in the Dyche Museum of Natural History, I saw the preserved body of Comanche, a horse that survived the battle at the Little Bighorn despite grave injuries. I became fascinated with this beautiful horse and his history, especially when I learned that the horse lived for a time at Fort Meade, near Sturgis, South Dakota, where my father grew up. Comanche spent a lot of time at forts in Kansas, my home state, before his final spot in Dyche Museum.

The Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana (June 25–26, 1876) has been depicted widely in paintings, books and movies from many viewpoints.  Visiting the battlefield adds much more to the story as you travel over the rolling hills of grass, reading how the battle occurred.  My husband and I have visited this battlefield twice.  Horses graze in the pastures there, bringing to mind the many horses who tragically were involved in the battle.

Seventh Cavalry Horse Cemetery Memorial at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Memorial, Montana.

My first memory of learning about the battle happened when I was a Girl Scout tour guide in the late 1960s at the open-air museum Cowtown.  I saw a painting depicting “Custer’s Last Stand”  in one of the buildings in Cowtown, an “Old West” museum with more than 50 historic and re-created buildings, in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1970, when I started studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the popular movie “Little Big Man” debuted.  Based on a novel by Thomas Berger,  “Little Big Man” depicted scenes from the Battle of the Little Bighorn, known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass by Native Americans. There is too much to write about Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his U.S. Army 7th Cavalry fatal encounter with the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native Americans, but I’ll add some links at the bottom of this post.

About the Battle of the Little Bighorn (from Wikipedia)

A marker shows where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer fell on Last Stand Hill at the Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument in Montana.

 

 

 

The horse Comanche, photographed in 1887. Comanche survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He is one of only four horses in United States history to be given a military funeral with full military honors. His preserved body is now on display at Dyche Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas.

Indian Memorial Sculpture, Little Bighorn, Montana Poster

Indian Memorial Sculpture, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Memorial, Montana.

Custer National Cemetery, and the History of National Cemeteries.

 

I hate that animals are forced into the battles among humans.
Comanche, the horse that survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Wikipedia).

Comanche, the horse that survived the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Custer’s Last Stand Suicide Myth.

THE 7TH CAVALRY HORSE CEMETERY (Little Big Horn). A very interesting history lesson.

Once sung by descendants of the 7th Cavalry, Irish air “Garrymore” will no longer cause pain for Native Americans.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, History, Photography, Travel

Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas

L. L. Dyche's taxidermy was so life-like it struck fear into this visitor to the Dyche Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas. Photo by Cathy Sherman.

This stuffed bear is so life-like it strikes fear into this visitor to the Museum of Natural History in Dyche Hall at the University of Kansas. Behind these visitors is a section of the Panorama of North American Animals and Plants, the largest diorama in the world. Photo by Cathy Sherman.

Call me weird, but I like to hang out with stuffed animals.  I’m not alone, though.  Fifty thousand people a year visit the exhibits at the Museum of Natural History & Biodiversity Research Center  (that’s a mouthful) at the University of Kansas.  The museum is in Dyche Hall, just west of the Student Union.

I studied at KU (Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!) and later worked across the street from the museum for five years. I still love These workers from more than a hundred years ago take a break from building the Panorama of North American Animals and Plants, the largest diorama in the world, which is in the Museum of Natural History at KU.to visit the museum whenever I return to the campus and have taken many friends there, too — whether they wanted to go…or not! (You know who you are!  It was fun, after all, wasn’t it?)

I like the quiet other-worldly atmosphere of the museum, even though it’s very much about the world we live in.  The museum’s motto is “We study the life of the planet.”  Biodiversity Research Center has been added to the name since I first started going there, since it’s not just cases and cases of stuffed animals in life-like settings.  There’s a lot of research going on behind the scenes.Dyche Hall

The museum is the leading university natural history museum in the country in biodiversity research — discovering, documenting and spreading the knowledge of life on earth, past and present, according to its website.  They have huge inventories of plants and animals (I’ve worked in their storage areas), including the best bee and scorpionfly collection. Sometimes my work took me to the museum when I wrote stories about research. I took a class in museum preparation in a classroom there, but quickly found out that I wasn’t cut out to cut up animals.  Actually, I didn’t cut much, but slipped off the skin of a mouse like a glove from a hand.  I did it just once.  It’s not for me!  Another task was to examine animal pelts in drawers to make sure they weren’t infested with carpet beetles.  I went through all of the mink, ferret and martin pelts.  They aren’t nearly so appealing flattened in drawers as they are in a coat, although I don’t think they should be made into coats.

This dashing explorer is L. L. Dyche, who killed and stuffed a lot of animals in the late 1800s so that we'd know what they looked like.

This dashing explorer is L. L. Dyche, who collected a lot of animals in the late 1800s so that we’d know what they looked like.

The museum building is named for Lewis Lindsay Dyche, who wowed visitors to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago with the Panorama of North American Animals and Plants, which was billed as “Nothing Like it in the World.” It was moved to the then newly built Dyche Hall at KU about a century ago and is still the largest diorama in the world.  There are 121 large and small mammals from the arctic to the tropical regions, arranged in natural settings at the time of early Autumn.  You can hear running water from a small waterfall, and a prairie dog pops up from a burrow.  Kids love that. (Me, too.)

There are four floors of exhibits in the museum, including fossils in the lower level, live snakes and fish and a hive of live bees.  I like the display of fluorescent rocks in a little room, enclosed by curtains. Some of the rocks spin on turntables.  I feel as if I’m in a time-machine, transported to a simpler time.

Perhaps out of place because it is more history than science (but one of my favorites) is the stuffed Comanche, a horse from General George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry, which survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana.  Comanche moved to Ft. Riley, Kan., where it retired after being nursed back to health because of its injuries at Little Bighorn.  Comanche was named “Second Commanding Officer of the Seventh,” became something like a pet, led parades and developed a fondness for beer. (I wondered how that happened?)  When he died in 1890, he was only one of two horses in U.S. history to be buried with full military honors.  Despite this, his exterior was sent to KU to be preserved by L. L. Dyche.  There was a story that KU ended up with Comanche, because Ft. Riley didn’t pay KU’s taxidermy bill, but another tale says that Dyche waived his fee of $400, if he could keep Comanche.   The horse was recently restored and moved to a special exhibit case on the same floor as the Panorama.   For more on Comanche go to Citing \”Custer\’s Last Standard Bearer\”

Comanche, a horse from Custer's Seventh Cavalry, is on display at Dyche Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas. Comanche survived the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Photo by Cathy Sherman.

Comanche, a horse from Custer’s Seventh Cavalry, is on display at the Museum of Natural History in Dyche Hall at the University of Kansas. Comanche survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. General George Armstrong Custer and his 262 men died. Photo by Cathy Sherman.

www.nhm.ku.edu  KU Natural History Museum website.

About L. L. Dyche, Naturalist.   a link to a story about Lewis Lindsay Dyche on www.kuhistory.com (Apparently this article no longer exists.)

An article from 1932. About Lewis Lindsay Dyche.

www.nps.gov/libi Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

2 Comments

Filed under Biology, History, Humor, Kansas, Life, Nature, Travel, University of Kansas