25 June-Myles Keogh, Battle of the Little Bighorn

IMG_0073[1]In Saint Joseph’s Church, Tinryland, Co Carlow, Ireland there is a stained glass window which commemorates Captain Myles Keogh of the US 7th Cavalry and other deceased members of the Keogh family. Myles Keogh served in the Papal Army before joining the Union Army in America. He died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn at the age of 36 in 1876.

Myles Walter Keogh was born in Orchard House near the village of Leighlinbridge County Carlow on March 25th 1840. His father John was a farmer. His uncle was one of those executed in Carlow town following the Rising of 1798. Myles was educated locally and in Carlow town.

In 1860 Catholic clergy in Ireland called for volunteers to join the Papal Army to stop the Papal States being absorbed into a united Italy by Garibaldi. Keogh then aged 20 volunteered, along with over a thousand of his countrymen. The Papal forces were defeated in September 1860 and Keogh was imprisoned at Genoa. Following his release Keogh went to Rome where he joined the Company of St. Patrick in the Vatican.

In 1862 Keogh was recruited with other experienced officers by John Hughes, Archbishop of New York to join the Union Army during the American Civil War. Captain Myles Keogh served with great distinction throughout the American Civil War in places such as the Shenandoah Valley and Gettysburg. He received many commendations for his bravery and by the end of the war he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

After the war, Keogh obtained a commission as a Captain in the U.S. 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer. He was given command of I Company during the Indian Wars. He was involved in several campaigns but matters came to a tragic end when Keogh was killed in action in what has become known as Custer’s last stand. Custer’s Battalion of 268 was wiped out by the Native American Indian Army lead by Chief Sitting Bull at the battle of the Little Bighorn near the modern day town of Billings Montana in June 1876.

Keogh’s horse, Commanche, survived the Battle. He lived a long and apparently enjoyable life often leading military parades. When he died on November 7th 1891 he was believed to be 29 years old. He was just one of only two horses in US history to be given a funeral with full military honours. Commanche was preserved and the taxidermy horse can be seen in the Natural History Museum of the University of Kansas.

Myles Keogh of Orchard, Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn whilst serving as Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army in the year 1876 On This Day.


Image from page 354 of “The blue and the gray, or, The Civil War as seen by a boy : a story of patriotism and adventure in our war for the Union” (1898) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1898-01-01 00:00:00

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