Many Americans wear a heavy heart today when remembering the tragedy that struck our nation 12 years ago. I think as a nation, we’ve taken the right steps in celebrating the lives and bravery of those we’ve lost. Service men and women risked their lives to come to the aid of those in need and that is not something likely to ever be forgotten. In today’s blog post I’m going to highlight service men and women of a different kind—famous American service horses.
Little Sorrel, also known as Fancy rose to fame as General Stonewall Jackson’s mount. Little Sorrel started his career as a Union Service horse during the Civil War, but was soon captured by the Confederates at Harpers Ferry. He was originally chosen for Mrs. Jackson but ended up serving General Stonewall when his original horse (Big Sorrel) did not serve well in battle. After General Stonewall Jackson’s death Little Sorrel retired was pastured at Mrs. Jackson’s North Carolina home but not for long. He became the mascot to the Virginia Military Institute. There the General had taught young cadets the ways of war and battle. Soon the demand to see Little Sorrel grew and he was shown at fairs and expos. During retirement Little Sorrel returned to the Jackson home where he finally went into retirement. After 35 years of service he closed his eyes for good. Little Sorrel was stuffed and is presently on display at the Virginia Military Institute’s Museum in Lexington, VA.
Another famous Confederate service horse is Traveller. He grew to fame as General Robert E. Lee’s horse. He passed away two years after the death of his master. Traveller had been initially buried, but after many requests the skeleton was disinterred and mounted at the Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. Traveller was reburied after 60 years of being on display and has rejoined the Lee family outside the family crypt.
Keeping in the time of the Civil War we’ll turn our attention to the other side of the battle. Serving as the mount for Union General Philip H. Sheridan was Winchester. His name was originally “Rienzi,” but was changed to Winchester after carrying Sheridan on his famous ride from Winchester, VA to Cedar Creek, VA. It was during this ride that he rallied his troops and turned what everyone thought was going to be defeat into a victory. In 1923 the Military Service Institution presented Winchester to the Smithsonian where he was mounted and displayed for the world to see.
Staying in chronological order of our 5 Famous American service horses brings us to the Indian Wars. Our next horse Comanche, was of mustang lineage. He was captured in a wild horse roundup and sold to the U.S. Army Calvary. Known for his small white star on his forehead, he was the favorite mount for Captain Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry. Comanche was a strong, brave horse and suffered 12 wounds over the course of his service. The Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876 was what brought Comanche fame. He was the sole survivor of General George Armstrong Custer’s command. When he was discovered by a burial party he was transported severely wounded to Fort Lincoln. There he was honorable discharged in a way. He received full honors remained as a symbol of the tragedy.
Kidron is our fifth famous American Service horse. He became famous as General of the Armies John J. (“Black Jack”) Pershing’s horse. Many pictures depict Pershing riding Kidron through the victory Arch in New York City at the end of World War I. Due to the age at which Kidron died his remains were not able to be mounted and displayed. Instead his remains are not part of the research collection for the Division of Mammals in the National Museum of Natural History.
It’s nice to know that all great American service personnel are honored and rewarded for their great service to a cause or tragedy. I hope today’s post has inspired you to fly your flag at half mast and remember all the bravery and dedication of our nations service men, women and animals.
Source: The Smithsonian Encyclopedia.