|Famous Horses of the Civil War.|
Horses played a critical role during the Civil War. Both the North and South relied heavily on the strength, endurance and mobility the horses provided on the battlefield. Horses were also relied upon for work and travel and were an essential part of industry. |
During the Civil War horses were considered as important as soldiers. They were used to carry messengers, commanding officers, equipment and artillery during the war. Many horses were lost to disease and exhaustion. Because of the value of these horses they often became a target for the enemy.
At one point early in the war, more horses than men were being killed. The average life expectancy for a horse used in the war was about six months.
Northern cavalrymen were provided with horses by the government, but enlisted men who provided their own horse were paid fifty cents extra per day. It is estimated that the Union paid for a total of 840,000 horses during the war.
Southern troops were required to provide their own horses, but were paid forty cents per day for the use. If the horse was killed, the soldier had to find a new one or be transferred to the infantry.
The bodies of dead horses often formed a protective barricade for nearby fighting men. After the battles were over there could be hundreds left lying around, which were usually burned and not buried. The soldier with the worst record for losing horses was General Nathan Bedford Forest, who reportedly had thirty-nine horses killed underneath him in battle.
There was a horse with a bad record for riders also. Four Guillet brothers rode the same horse at different times, each receiving a fatal wound, while the horse survived.
The horses also served another important function, carrying the general. Many generals rode by horseback instead of walking. One reason why the general rode a horse was so that he sat up higher than his troops. This allowed him to monitor progress and potential dangers farther in advance than if he were on the ground.
|The following are merely a few of the many famous horses of the Civil War and their riders:|
| Traveller |
Traveller was purchased by General Robert E. Lee in 1862 and is considered by many to be the most famous horse of the Civil War. The horse had been named Jeff Davis prior to General Lee’s purchase. General Lee rode Traveller through the majority of the war, including the battles at Gettysburg, Manassas, and Fredericksburg. After the war, Traveller went with General Lee to Washington College. After Lee died, his trusted horse marched in his funeral procession. Traveller is also the “author” of a ghost-written volume that tells about the Civil War as seen through a horse’s eyes.
| Cincinnati |
General Ulysses Grant’s favorite war horse was named Cincinnati.. He was the son of Lexington, one of the fastest racehorses of the time and property of General William Tecumseh Sherman. General Grant was given Cincinnati as a gift in 1864 and rarely allowed anyone else to ride him. General Grant rode Cincinnati throughout the war and to his surrender meeting with General Robert E. Lee. The horse stayed with Grant at the White House after he became president and lived until 1878. Grant’s other horses included Methuselah, Rondy, Fox, Jack, Jeff Davis and Kangaroo.
| Lexington |
Lexington was the horse of General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War. A famous Kentucky racehorse, Lexington was relied upon for his speed during the war. Lexington carried General Sherman through Atlanta in 1864 and to Washington for the final review of his army. His son, Cincinnati was a gift to General Ulysses Grant.
| Old Sorrel |
This famous horse carried General “Stonewall” Jackson. Old Sorrell was so small that the General’s feet nearly touched the ground and was renamed Little Sorrel for this reason. Old Sorrel was purchased by the General at Harper’s Ferry in 1861 as a gift for his wife. Jackson was riding the horse when he was mortally wounded at the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. After his death the horse was sent to the Virginia Military Institute where General Jackson taught.
| Baldy |
Baldy was the horse of General George Meade. This seemingly indestructible horse was injured at least five times during the war. Baldy carried General Meade through several battles during the war, including Fredericksburg, First Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Baldy outlived General Meade and marched in his funeral procession in 1872.
| Winchester |
This famous Civil War horse belonged to General Philip Sheridan. Its original name was Rienzi. Rienzi was renamed Winchester after a famous ride in 1864, where Sheridan was able to turn defeat into victory. Winchester is preserved at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Aldebaron was another horse that General Sheridan rode earlier in the war.
| Fleeter |
Fleeter was ridden by famous Confederate spy Belle Boyd.
| Black Hawk |
Black Hawk was ridden by General William Bate.
| Dixie |
Dixie was killed at Perryville while being ridden by General Patrick Cleburne.
| Rifle |
Rifle was the cherished steed of General Richard Ewell.
| King Philip |
King Philip was the favorite horse of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who also rode Roderick and Highlander.
| Beauregard |
Beauregard was ridden to Appomattox by Captain W. I. Rasin and survived until 1883.
| Joe Smith |
General Adam R. Johnson rode a horse named Joe Smith.
| Fire-Eater |
General Albert S. Johnston was riding Fire-Eater when he was killed at Shiloh.
| Nellie Gray |
General Fitzhugh Lee’s horse Nellie Gray was killed at Opequon.
| Old Fox |
Colonel E. G. Skinner rode Old Fox in the First Virginia Infantry.
| Virginia |
General J.E.B. Stuart’s horse Virginia is credited with having prevented his capture by jumping an enormous ditch. In addition to this horse, Stuart often rode Highfly.
| Sardanapalus |
Jeff Thompson’s favorite horse was Sardanapalus.
| Old Whitey |
Famous nurse "Mother" Bickerdyke always rode Old Whitey.
| Almond Eye |
General Benjamin “The Beast” Butler rode a horse named Almond Eye.
| Nellie |
Nellie was the favorite horse of General Kenner Garrard.
| Lookout |
General Joseph Hooker cherished his horse named Lookout.
| Moscow |
Moscow was a white horse used in battle by General Philip Kearny. Because the big white horse was an inviting target, Kearny switched to a horse named Decatur and then to Bayard, whose color was light brown.
| Slasher |
General John Logan rode Slasher into battle. The horse was so fast that an artist painted it with all four feet off the ground.
| Boomerang |
Colonel John McArthur of the Twelfth Illinois Regiment named his horse Boomerang because of his tendency to move backward.
| Kentuck |
General George McClellan’s favorite horse was named Kentuck. In addition, McClellan rode a black horse named Bums.
| Billy |
General George Thomas rode a horse name Billy, who was named for General William Tecumseh Sherman.
| Old Jim |
According to records, the last surviving Civil War horse lived until at least 1894. His rider Lieutenant McMahon was killed in action, but Old Jim went back to live in Aiken, South Carolina, entertaining crowds at parades of Civil War Veterans.