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The Story of Comanche: Horsepower, Heroism and the Conquest of the American West

Jones, Karen (2017) The Story of Comanche: Horsepower, Heroism and the Conquest of the American West. War and Society, 36 (3). pp. 156-181. ISSN 0729-2473. E-ISSN 2042-4345. (doi:10.1080/07292473.2017.1356588) (KAR id:56325)

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Abstract

Marked by the Census Bureau’s closure of the frontier; the symbolic end of American Indian resistance at Wounded Knee and powerful articulations on the ‘winning of the West’ from Frederick Jackson Turner and Buffalo Bill Cody, the early 1890s was a critical moment in the history of the American West. It also saw the death of one of the region’s most famous cavalry horses, Comanche, who succumbed to colic in 1891 aged twenty-nine. Famously billed as ‘the only living thing to survive the Battle of the Little Bighorn’, this article uses Comanche as a locus around which to examine the history of warhorses in the military culture of the American West, and, more broadly, to point towards a growing scholarship on war and the environment that emphasises the usefulness of such themes as spatiality and inter-species exchange in embellishing our understanding of the experience, impact and cultural memory of war. Not only does Comanche’s lifespan (c.1862–1891) usefully coincide with the federal government’s final conquest of the West but his equine biography serves as valuable testament to the use of horses in the US military as both practical and symbolic agents of American expansionism.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/07292473.2017.1356588
Uncontrolled keywords: horses, environmental history, American West, animals, US Cavalry, Indian Wars, heroism, warhorse
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: M.R.L. Hurst
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2016 09:31 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 16:40 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/56325 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Jones, Karen: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4787-6830
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