Horses are historically a famous part of many battles. As far back as historians have documented, horses have been an integral part of wars all over the world. Because they served so bravely alongside their soldiers, we wanted to pay tribute to some famous horses of war in today’s blog post.
Bucephalus: Bucephalus was the hard-to-tame mount of Alexander the Great. He was said to be jet black with a white star on his face. Alexander got Bucephalus when his father didn’t want him, and was the only person able to tame the massive horse. Bucephalus was a charger for Alexander and helped him through many battles.
Many myths surround this famous pair, including a few different versions of the horse’s death. Some say he lived to thirty, an unusually long life for a horse, especially in ancient times. Others say he suffered fatal injuries during the Battle of the Hydaspes, which Alexander won. He then named a nearby city Bucephala in memory of his favorite steed.
Cincinnati: A horse often depicted alongside his master in art, Cincinatti was the favorite mount of Ulysses S. Grant during his time commanding the Union troops in the Civil War. Cincinatti was a gift to Grant during the war. He was a large, powerful horse that Grant rode to one of the most famous meetings in American history. He was Grant’s mount when he rode to Appomattox Court Horse for Robert E. Lee’s surrender, making him a part of almost every monument and image depicting Grant.
Comanche: Comanche is said to be the only survivor of General Custer’s 7th cavalry detachment during the Battle of Little Big Horn. Comanche was a steadfast mount who was injured many times in battle but always kept going. His owner, Myles Keogh rode him into battle against Custer. All of their detachment died that day, except for Comanche who was badly injured, but discovered by US soldiers shortly after and nursed back to health.
Comanche thoroughly enjoyed the rest of his life after battle. He was made an honorary “Second Commanding Officer” of the 7th Cavalry. Later in life, he spent his time in a few parades and drinking his favorite beverage – beer! He died of colic at 29 years old and was buried with full military honors – one of only two horses in American history to be buried this way.
Marengo: This famous horse actually outlived his rider by eight years. That’s right; Napoleon’s mount lived on for quite a while after the death of his owner. Named for the Battle of Marengo, the grey Arabian was wounded eight times during his career as a war horse. When Napoleon was raided in 1812, Marengo fled along with his 51 barn mates, but was captured three years later by William Henry Francis Petre at the Battle of Waterloo. He was brought to the UK and sold to be used for stud. He died at the age of 38, and his skeleton is now on display at the National Army Museum in London, minus one hoof!
Traveller: Since we discussed the mount of Grant in the Civil War, we wanted to cover Robert E. Lee’s famous war horse as well. Not easily spooked and with tons of stamina, Traveller was an ideal horse to be used in battle. After the war, Lee kept Traveller and he became quite the sight to see for veterans and college students at Washington College in Virginia. He lost many of his tail hairs to boys pulling them out as souvenirs from the war.
Ironically, Traveller met his demise shortly after Lee. Traveller was part of his owner’s funeral procession, draped in black and following the casket. Not long after this event, Traveller stepped on a nail and developed tetanus. Since there was no cure for the ailment, he was shot to stop his suffering. He is buried close to his master’s body at the college.
Did we miss your favorite war horse? Share some details with us below.