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Famous American Civil War Horses

Updated on July 22, 2015


Horses played a crucial role in the American Civil War, especially for the generals. Generals rode horses to get a higher view of the battlefield than the men on foot to direct the troop movement. Their lives depended on the abilities of their four-legged companions to behave in a controlled matter under the terrible circumstances that they were exposed to. In the early part of the war, more horses than men were killed. A lot of horses were used during the civil war that so many of them were killed in some battles the soldiers had to burn many of them since they could not bury them. By the end of the war more than 1,000,000 horses were killed along with their riders during the war, however there were a few that stood out with well-known riders such as Grant, Lee, Sherman and many more. I will only go into detail on a few of the generals.

Lee astride Traveller
Lee astride Traveller

The Horses of General Robert E. Lee

General Robert E. Lee, one of the most popular generals in the war, had several horses. These horses were Lucy Long, Richmond, Brown-Roan,Ajax and Traveller. The first four horses were used briefly during the Civil War. Traveller was purchased for $200 from Joseph M. Boun in February of 1862 after Lee was transferred to South Carolina. His original name was“Jeff Davis”and Lee renamed him “Traveller”. Traveller would eventually become the horse Lee will use during most of the war because Traveller was a horse of good stamina and was very difficult to frighten.

After the war, Traveller became very popular when Lee became president of Washington College (later Washington and Lee College) located in Lexington, Virginia. It is here where Traveller will lose most of his tail hair from veterans and students constantly pulling it out. They wanted it for asouvenir because he was the horse of a famous general. In the summer of 1871,Traveller stepped on a nail and developed tetanus (or Lockjaw). He was euthanized and buried on the campus of Washington College. His bones were unearthed and moved several times. They were displayed in several locations,namely Rochester, New York (1875-75), Brooks Museum (Robinson Hall) and in 1929 they were placed in the basement of Lee Chapel. The bones stayed there for 30 years. The bones were finally placed in it present resting place in 1971 in a wooden box encased in concrete next to the Lee Chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee College where Lee’s family crypt is located.

In Manassas, Virginia, this bronze statue of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson astride his horse "Little Sorrel" commemorates the Civil War Battle of Bull Run
In Manassas, Virginia, this bronze statue of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson astride his horse "Little Sorrel" commemorates the Civil War Battle of Bull Run

The Horses of General Stonewall Jackson

General Stonewall Jackson rode a horse named “Little Sorrel” during the Civil War up to the point when he was shot at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. He originally brought the horse as a gift for his wife and the horse was named Fancy. After the war, “Little Sorrel” was return to Mrs. Jackson and later sent to Virginia Military Institute (VMI) also located in Lexington, Virginia. Little Sorrel died at the age 36 in March 1886. Today you can see his mounted hide in the VMI Museum. His cremated bones are buried on the grounds of VMI.


The Horses of General William T. Sherman

General William T. Sherman rode four horses during the war. Their names were Duke, Dolly, Sam, and Lexington. Even though Duke was Sherman favorite, he rode Sam in the famous March To the Sea and Dolly was captured when Confederates raided Sherman’s train at the Battle of Collierville on October 11, 1863.

Ulysses S. Grant stature at the edge of the Capitol Reflecting Pool
Ulysses S. Grant stature at the edge of the Capitol Reflecting Pool

The Horses of General Ulysses S. Grant

General Ulysses S. Grant had seven horses to ride. The name of the horses were Jack, Kangaroo, Cincinnati, Fox, Jeff Davis, Rondy, and Methuselah. Cincinnati was the son of a famous racehorse. He was the son of Lexington, the fastest four-mile thoroughbred in the United States with a time of 7 minutes, 19.45 seconds. Cincinnati was Grant’s favorite horse and was ridden into Appomattox to negotiate Lee’s surrender. This is the horse depicted in all the drawings, paintings, and statures of Ulysses Grant sitting on. You can see one of these statures in Washington, D.C. located at the base of Capitol Hill.

The Horses of Other Generals

Some generals had horses in the war with names that sounded like our present day racehorse names. For example, Grand Old Canister, Handsome Joe and My Maryland were horses that were ridden by Union Generals Daniel Sickles and John Sedgwick, and Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart respectively. J.E.B. Stuart was one of the few generals who lost all his horses during the war. As the expression goes all his horses were "shot from under him". He lost his horses also because he was the commander a calvary.

Below is a short list of some of the other officers with the names of their horses. There are many more.

List of Other Officers with the name of their horses

Horse name
Plug Ugly
Alpheus S. Williams
Edward Porter Alexander
Don Juan
George Armstrong Custer
Richard S. Ewell
David McMurtie Gregg
Joseph Hooker
Philip Kearny
Philip Sheridan
Isaac R. Trimble
Walter H. Taylor

© 2010 Melvin Porter


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks, melpor.

    • melpor profile imageAUTHOR

      Melvin Porter 

      7 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      General Hood had one horse he named Jeff Davis.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Does anyone know the name(s) of the horse(s) that General John Bell Hood rode during the Civil War?

    • melpor profile imageAUTHOR

      Melvin Porter 

      8 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      MPChris, thanks for the comment.

    • MPChris profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Very Neat

    • melpor profile imageAUTHOR

      Melvin Porter 

      8 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Angie, thanks for your comment and for stopping by to read my hub.

    • angie ashbourne profile image

      angie ashbourne 

      8 years ago

      Hi! Interesting Hub. vote up Angie


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