Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses
This non-fiction book written by author J.D.R. Hawkins tells the story of heroic Confederate steeds and what they endured during the War Between the States.
Whoever thought horses could be heroes? In a time when these animals were part of everyday practicality, soldiers during the Civil War depended on them with their very lives. Because of this, many horses and their masters were bound together, not only for survival on the battlefield, but throughout the course of history as well. What distinguishes Confederate horses from their Union counterparts will truly astound you.
Author J. D. R. Hawkins takes you on a journey back, to rediscover these magnificent beasts and see how they fought just as gallantly, and made just as many sacrifices, as the soldiers they served. Devoted to the end, Confederate horses were so beloved that many were considered to be pets, and most fought with distinction as valiant warriors. Horses in Gray describes the lives of horses whose names became synonymous with their masters, such as Robert E. Lee and Traveller, Stonewall Jackson and Little Sorrel, and Jeb Stuart and Virginia. This book tells the story of the Confederate warhorses that time forgot.
Author: J. D. R. Hawkins
Nonfiction / Historical
Publication Date: June 2017
Available from Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.
Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses is endorsed by actor Patrick Gorman, who portrayed General John Bell Hood in the films Gettysburg and Gods and Generals.
This is the story of Confederate warhorses, whose breeds descend from English nobility, and the men they served. Southerners were long accustomed to the equestrian way of life, and the breeds of horses they used were as diverse as they were necessary. In the rural landscape of the Old South, travel and transport would have been impossible without the right steed. The warhorses and mules, who carried on through starvation and disease, were vital to the Confederate soldier. Read about such famous horses as Robert E. Lee’s Traveller and the many horses of Nathan Bedford Forrest, and come to know these horses as their masters did.
Five-star reviews for Horses in Gray
J.D.R. Hawkins’ latest work is like a rare gem – something that doesn’t come along often but to be prized when discovered. The work’s rarity derives from its unique subject matter, its detailed research, and its reader-friendly story-telling.Notable throughout the entire book is Hawkins’ reverence and passion for horses. She covers in this book a subject I have never before seen in my readings of the American Civil War. Many stories have been told, some true and some not-so-much, of the exploits of Civil War generals. Largely forgotten, except in a few obscure cases, have been the exploits of the horses who made their heroics possible.
Horses in Gray is so well documented that it could easily pass as a Master’s Degree thesis. However, the author never lets the documentation get in the way of providing a fascinating read. One becomes keenly aware of the strong bond between horse and rider that is never weakened by long marches, harsh weather, or the noise of battle. She presents the horses as loyal servants with personalities as unique and varied as those of the men who rode them, and the masters as caring owners who treat them as faithful companions, not mere tools of battle.
Interwoven into the stories of the Confederate war horses and their riders are insightful vignettes of the actions they shared. Some of the actions were major ones such as the battles of Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Pittsburgh Landing, others largely forgotten except among military scholars and Civil War buffs – notably raids by John Mosby and Turner Ashby. As a student of the war, I was never before aware of the extent to which horses “changed sides” as the result of being captured or that General Grant, himself, rode a captured horse named Jeff Davis.
The author of Civil War novels such as A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us does not disappoint with her foray into non-fiction. If you consider yourself even a casual student of the Civil War, or if you are a more serious scholar, Horses in Gray is a must read. I rate it five stars and look forward to more of Hawkins’ work.
Greg Seeley – Goodreads author, Henry’s Pride.
Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible.
He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
—Job 39:19-25 (KJV)
Chapter 1 (excerpt)
Life as a Confederate Horse
The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but safety is from the Lord.
Horses and mules were vital military tools used for carrying officers, providing mounts for the cavalry, and pulling caissons, wagons, artillery limbers, and ambulances. Not only were these animals devoted and loyal, but they were heavily relied upon and necessary for the existence of the armies they served. Because they demonstrated unflinching bravery in the face of fire, they were loved and adored. Lifelong relationships evolved between horse and master, and on many occasions, the gallant steed carried his rider to hero’s status and immortality.
Before the war, horses in the South were essential, since the region was primarily rural. Railways were sparse and roads were rough. Southern horses were descendants of equine nobility, and through their veins ran the blood of English thoroughbred royalty: Sir Archy, Boston, Diomed, Eclipse, Exchequer, Messenger, Red Eye, Timoleon, and other splendid champion sires.
Mules usually did the plowing and heavy hauling, while horses broken to harness did lighter tasks and pulled carriages. Some horses were used for fox hunting or jousting, but most were used to transport family members cross-country.
For the most part, Southern men and boys were excellent horsemen. When the war started, some were already members of military companies and had been for years.
The horse was so revered by the South that one is depicted on the Confederate States of America’s National Emblem. Seated on the animal is George Washington. The South greatly honored Washington and considered the war to be its Second War of Independence.