7th Cavalry Insignia, Custer's Regiment - 7th Cavalry - Company "I" Indian Wars.
The 7th Cavalry Regiment is a United States Army cavalry regiment formed in 1866. Its official nickname is "Garryowen", after the Irish air "Garryowen" that was adopted as its march tune.
Following its activation, the Seventh Cavalry Regiment patrolled the Western plains for raiding Native Americans and to protect the westward movement of pioneers. From 1866 to 1881, the regiment marched a total of 181,692 miles (292,342 km) across Kansas, Montana, and the Dakota Territories.
American Indian Wars:
The regiment was constituted on 28 July 1866 in the regular army as the 7th United States Cavalry. It was organized on 21 September 1866 at Fort Riley, Kansas as part of an expansion of the regular army following the demobilization of the wartime volunteer and draft forces. From 1866 through 1871, the regiment was posted to Fort Riley and fought in the American Indian Wars.
In the Battle of the Washita in 1868, the regiment sustained 22 losses, while inflicting more that 150 deaths on a Cheyenne encampment, mostly women and children. This attack was led by George Armstrong Custer, who later led the 7th Cavalry to the most calamitous defeat of U.S. forces in the Indian Wars.
Typical of post-Civil War cavalry regiments, the 7th Cavalry was organized as a twelve-company regiment without a formal battalion organization. Battalions at this time were flexible tactical organizations, with companies being assigned and removed as the field commander desired or felt necessary. Throughout this period, the cavalryman was armed with the Colt Single Action Army .45 caliber revolvers and trapdoor Springfield carbines, caliber .45–55 until 1892. The regiment used the McClellan saddle, and sabres were also issued but not often carried on campaign.
The 7th Cavalry, like the other U.S. Army regiments of the time, had a band, which performed mounted as well as on foot, and seated for concerts. Initially established with the support of Major Alfred Gibbs, the 7th's band adopted Garryowen as their favorite tune and thus gave the Seventh their nickname among the rest of the Army.
From 1871 through 1873, 7th Cavalry companies participated in constabulary duties in the deep South in support of the Reconstruction Act, and, for half the regiment, again in 1874–1876. In 1873, the 7th Cavalry moved its garrison post to Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory. From here, the regiment carried out Custer's 1874 Black Hills Expedition. This led to the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, starting a gold rush in 1874 that precipitated the Great Sioux War of 1876–77. In June, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer was killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Montana along with 267 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry. Although the regiment is well known for the Battle of the Little Bighorn, it also participated in other battles of the American Indian Wars, including the Battle of Bear Paw, Montana on 30 September 1877 – 5 October 1877, and the Battle of Crow Agency, Montana on 5 November 1887. On 29 December 1890, the regiment instigated the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota, an event that signaled the end of the American Indian Wars.
Washita River, Indian Territory - November 27, 1867
Honsinger Bluff, Montana Territory - August 4, 1873
Yellowstone River, Montana Territory - August 11, 1873
Little Bighorn, Montana Territory - June 25-26, 1876
Canyon Creek, Montana Territory - September 13, 1877
Bear Paw Mountain, Montana Territory - September 30-October 5, 1877
Crow Agency, Montana Territory - November 5, 1887
Wounded Knee, South Dakota - December 29, 1890
Drexel Mission, South Dakota - December 30, 1890
Commanders during American Indian Wars:
September 1866 – November 1866 Maj. John W. Davidson.
November 1866 – April 1869 Col. Andrew J. Smith
May 1869 – June 1886 Col. Samuel D. Sturgis
July 1886 – November 1894 Col. James W. Forsyth
Inventory Number: INS 145