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Comanche Meeting the Dragoons

1834-1835 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 24 x 29 in. (60.9 x 73.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.488 Not currently on view


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“Col. Dodge ordered the command to halt, while he rode forward with a few of his staff, and an ensign carrying a white flag. I joined this advance, and the Indians stood their ground until we had come within half a mile of them, and could distinctly observe all their numbers and movements. We then came to a halt, and the white flag was sent a little in advance, and waved as a signal for them to approach; at which one of their party galloped out in advance of the war-party, on a milk white horse, carrying a piece of white buffalo skin on the point of his long lance in reply to our flag . . . This moment was the commencement of one of the most thrilling and beautiful scenes I ever witnessed. All eyes, both from his own party and ours, were fixed upon the manoeuvres of this gallant little fellow, and he well knew it . . . He at length came prancing and leaping along till he met the flag of the regiment, when he leaned his spear for a moment against it, looking the bearer full in the face, when he wheeled his horse, and dashed up to Col. Dodge with his extended hand, which was instantly grasped and shaken.” George Catlin sketched this scene in 1834, when he accompanied the United States Dragoons to Indian Territory. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 41, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Ethnic - Indian - Comanche

Figure group - male

History - United States - westward expansion

Occupation - military - soldier

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added