The Seventh Cavalry Regiment was one of the major military forces deployed by the United States in The Wild West. As soldiers of the U.S. Army, their enemy was often the Indians, as they were in Real Life. It was the unfortunate regiment to be beaten in the Battle of Little Bighorn and responsible for the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, 1890note . Historically, the entire regiment was not wiped out at Little Bighorn, as "Common Knowledge" would have you believe. True, the five companies personally led by General George Armstrong Custer were killed to a man, but the other half of the regiment under Major Marcus Renonote withdrew to a defensible position and survived. The massacre is often attributed to Custer being a Glory Hound (which he was), but poor intelligence drastically underestimating Sitting Bulls numbers and a decision to leave the regiments heavy weapons behind (based on the poor intelligence) played a significant role as well.
They were often given an idealized portrayal in older media, while more recent works usually lean heavily to the opposite extreme. Neither is particularly close to Real Life. When Indians are involved, they are seen as organized thugs who make the lives of the Indians miserable. For the average citizen in a Western Town, expect some twisted form of martial law be carried out by this group. Kick the Dog and Shoot the Dog is standard procedure for the Seventh Calvary. Often the leader of the antagonists will be the Lieutenant of the regiment who is more often than not a Cavalry Officer, acting as the brain behind the attacks against the Indians and consisting mostly of General Ripper and The Neidermeyer type characters. Expect Custer, if he appears, to get a Historical Villain Upgradenote .
Their theme song is "Garryowen". First Nations people are just about as fond of this tune as the Jews are of the Nazi Horst Wessel Lied. In 1998 the Native American women's a capella group Ulali performed a Take That! by appropriating "Garryowen" as a traditional choral chant. It forms the background to a poem celebrating the survival of Indian people, and is the song played over the closing credits to Smoke Signals.
It should be noted that the United States Army Seventh Cavalry Regiment is still an active unit and has served with distinction in World War II and The Vietnam War, in particular the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley which was immortalized in We Were Soldiers. The Army ROTC unit at the New Mexico Military Institute wears the unit crest of the 7th Cavalry Regiment.