J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “General Lee”

Famous Horses of the Civil War

Recently, I had the privilege of giving a Civil War presentation of my choosing. Since I am an avid horse lover, and my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, is about the Confederate cavalry, I decided to speak about famous Civil War horses. The most famous equines are listed below.

Traveller (Gen. Robert E. Lee) – As a colt, he won 1st prize at a fair in Lewisburg, VA. First named “Jeff Davis” by his owner, Major Thomas Broun, who paid $175 in gold for him, General Lee always referred to him as “my colt.” Lee obtained Traveller in the spring of 1862, purchased him for $200 in currency and changed his name, and the two were seen together almost daily. Lee owned other horses: “Grace Darling,” “Brown Roan,” “Lucy Long,” “Ajax,” and “Richmond,” but all became unserviceable. He was astride Traveller when he rode to the McLean house at Appomattox Court House, and Traveller lived with General Lee at Washington and Lee University after the war. At Lee’s funeral, Traveller marched behind the hearse, his step slow and his head bowed as if he understood the importance of the occasion.

King Philip (Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest) – This horse charged and snapped his teeth at anyone wearing blue. After the war, King Philip chased off Yankees visiting General Forrest, and while pulling a wagon, went after policemen wearing blue uniforms. One of Forrest’s men noted, “Your negroes fight for you and your horses fight for you.” King Philip died later in 1865 from colic and is depicted at Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. General Forrest also owned “Roderick” and “Highlander,” who was shot in the carotid at Chattanooga. Forrest plugged the hole with his finger until after battle, whereby the horse dropped dead. The general claimed that he killed 30 Yankees, and had 29 horses shot out from under him. He is quoted as saying after the war, “I was one horse ahead.”

Cincinnati (Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant) – After the Battle of Chattanooga in 1863, General Grant went to St. Louis, where a man offered to sell him his horse if he promised to take good care of it. Grant accepted, renamed the stallion, and kept him until the horse died in 1878. Cincinnati was the son of Lexington, the fastest four-mile thoroughbred in the U.S., and nearly equaled the speed of his half-brother, Kentucky. Grant was offered $10,000 in gold for him but refused. This fact is profound since Grant was near poverty before he wrote his memoirs. General Grant only permitted two others to ride Cincinnati: President Lincoln and Admiral Daniel Ammen, who had saved his life from drowning when he was a boy. Grant was a horse lover who got along better with horses than he did people and originally wanted to be in the cavalry but was declined. Other horses he owned included Jack, who was with him until after the battle of Chattanooga and which Grant used for special occasions and parades. Grant donated him to the Sanitary Fair in Chicago in 1863-64 where the horse was raffled off and brought $4000 to Sanitary Commission. Grant rode “Fox” at Shiloh, “Kangaroo” at Vicksburg, and also owned “Egypt” and “Jeff Davis,” which in 1864, was captured from Joe Davis’ plantation (Jefferson’s brother).

Daniel Webster (Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan) – This horse was called “that Devil Dan” because of his speed. McClellan owned the horse from 1862 until after the war, and the animal died at age 23. McClellan said of his beloved steed, “No soldier ever had a better horse than I had in Daniel Webster.” The general, who invented the McClellan saddle, also owned “Black Burns” and “Kentuck.”

Highfly (Maj. Gen. JEB Stuart) –In the summer of 1862, Stuart was stretched out on a bench on the porch of a tavern waiting for General Fitzhugh Lee to arrive, but the Yankees arrived first. Stuart narrowly escaped on Highfly, but his hat with the long ostrich plume was captured. General Stuart also owned Virginia, a warm-blooded mare who saved Stuart from capture when he invaded Pennsylvania by leaping over a wide gulley and escaping capture.

Old Sorrel (Gen. Stonewall Jackson) – This mare was also known as “Little Sorrel” because she was so small that when Jackson was mounted, his feet almost touched the ground. He obtained her on May 1, 1861 while in command of the garrison at Harper’s Ferry when a train with supplies for Union troops was captured. She was then thought to be 11 years old. In 1884, Old Sorrel appeared at a state fair in Hagerstown, Maryland, where almost all her mane and tail hair was plucked out by souvenir hunters. When she died, she was stuffed, and is now at the Solder’s Home in Richmond.

Winchester (Gen. Philip Sheridan) – Originally named “Rienzi,” he was given to then Colonel Sheridan in the spring of 1862 while Sheridan was stationed at Rienzi, Mississippi, but the horse’s name wasn’t changed until after Sheridan’s famous ride to Winchester in the Battle of Cedar Creek on Oct. 19, 1864. Winchester was so revered that when he died, he was stuffed and given to the Smithsonian Institution. Sheridan also owned “Alderbaron” prior to Winchester.

Baldy (Brig. Gen.George Meade) – The horse was with him at 1st Bull Run (wounded twice) and Antietam, where he was left for dead but later discovered grazing with a deep wound in his neck. He was also at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, where he received a bullet lodged between his ribs. Meade kept him with the army until the following spring, then sent him to pasture in Pennsylvania. After the war, Meade retrieved his charger, fully recovered, and the two became inseparable. Baldy followed Meade’s hearse, lived 10 more years, and upon his death, his head and two fore hoofs were mounted and are now cherished relics of the George G. Meade Post, Grand Army of the Republic in Philadelphia.

Lexington (Gen. William T. Sherman) – This horse was a Kentucky thoroughbred who attracted admiration due to his fine form. Sherman was astride Lexington when he entered Atlanta, and following the war in 1865, rode him in final Grand Review in Washington. Sherman also owned Sam, a half-thoroughbred bay that made one of the longest and most difficult marches ever recorded in history from Vicksburg to Washington. He died of extreme old age in 1884.

Moscow (Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny) – This was a white horse that made the general very conspicuous during battle, so he switched to a bay named “Decatur” and then to “Bayard.”

Other Famous Horses include:

Lookout (Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker) – obtained in Chattanooga and named after a battle that took place there

Almond Eye (Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler)

Nellie Gray (Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee)

Billy (Maj. Gen. George Thomas) named after his friend, General William T. Sherman

Fleeter (Belle Boyd)

Dixie (Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne) – killed at Perryville – Cleburne was killed at Franklin, Tennessee

Rifle (Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell)

Beauregard (Capt. W.I. Rasin) – ridden by Rasin to Appomattox and survived until 1883

Black Hawk (Maj. Gen. William Bate)

Fire-eater (Gen. Albert Johnston)

Old Fox (Col. E.G. Skinner)

Slasher (Maj. Gen. John Logan)

Boomerang (Col. John McArthur)

Gettysburg and the Definition of “Shoddy”

One of the most infamous battles of the Civil War took place in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 1-3, 1863. Several factors came into play, determining the location of this decisive battle. While General Lee led his Confederate army into enemy territory in an attempt to intimidate Union troops, invade the north, and impede upon Washington, the Rebel army was also in desperate need of shoes. It just so happens that there was a shoe factory in Gettysburg. So hence, the Confederates came in search of shoes, and yet found so much more – most likely what they realized they didn’t bargain for.

The Civil War introduced mass production to America. Northern cities began constructing various clothing items, Bibles, and ammunition in mass quantities to supply the Union army. Within months of the war’s start, manufacturing was changed forever. Child labor was commonplace, as were sewing factories, where women worked from 12-16 hours a day. Because there was such a high demand for these products, the advent of “shoddy” commenced.

Uniforms supplied to the Federal army were rapidly stitched together in a frantic attempt to keep up with the War Department’s demand to supply troops. In 1861, 75,000 men volunteered to fight for the Union army, but the War Department only had enough uniforms for 13,000. Even though the infantry wore out shoes faster than what could be manufactured at the beginning of the war, within months, clothing companies found ways to keep up with demand, and managed to supply the Union army until the end of the war. This was far superior to that of the Confederacy, which was unable to supply its troops with clothing. Therefore, many new recruits enlisted wearing only their own homespun garments.

The Gettysburg Address

One of the greatest American speeches took place 148 years ago at a small town in Pennsylvania known as Gettysburg. The occasion was the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery, following the bloodiest three days in our history that took place during the Civil War. At the time, both sides believed themselves to be victorious, but by July 4, 1863, it became apparent that the Union had succeeded in defeating the Confederates when General Lee ordered his army to retreat back into Virginia.

The number of casualties was immense: Union losses numbered 23,055 (3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded, and 5,369 captured or missing). It is believed that Confederate casualties were similar, although the exact number is questionable. Four months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to speak, along with Edward Everett, a popular orator of the time. It is rumored that the president wrote his speech on the train ride to Gettysburg, but this has been undocumented. Lincoln’s speech lasted just over two minutes, but it has lasted through the ages, and is as follows:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Mascots and the War Between the States

We all know the important role that horses and mules played in the Civil War. They were essential to the mobility of armies. They pulled artillery caissons, carried officers, served as couriers, and of course, transported the cavalry. But besides equines, many other animals served in the War Between the States as well.

Soldiers were attached to their pets, and some brought along dogs, cats, and various domesticated livestock to the war front. They adopted squirrels, bears, birds, raccoons, and other wildlife as company mascots. Some unusual mascots included a badger, a camel, and a bald eagle known as “Old Abe,” which represented the 8th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers. General Lee kept a hen that dutifully laid an egg for him every morning.

Many of these special animals are immortalized in statuesque form, including General Lee’s horse, Traveller, General Grant’s Cincinnati, and General Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel. Dogs are honored, too, including Sallie, mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania. Her likeness is carved in bronze on the regimental monument at Gettysburg. There are many other famous canines that accompanied their masters to the battlefield … and to their death. A few are even buried there. These include Jack, with the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Old Harvey with the 104th Ohio, and Major with the 19th Maine.

Battle of Cedar Mountain

Today marks the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, which took place on August 9, 1862 in Virginia. The battle led up to the Second Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run.

The battle took place near the town of Culpeper, which, during the course of the war, changed hands 78 times. Prior to the battle, General Robert E. Lee had secured the safety of Richmond in the Seven Days Battles. President Abraham Lincoln grew panicky, so he enlisted Major General John Pope to take over the Union army. After hearing Pope’s proclamations against Southerners, General Lee told General Stonewall Jackson, “I want Pope to be suppressed.”

Jackson’s 22,000 Confederate troops outnumbered Union General Banks’ 12,000, but still, they nearly lost the battle. At one point, Jackson attempted to draw his sword and lead the battle, but because it had rusted to the inside of the scabbard, he had to raise the scabbard, with the sword inside it, to rally his troops. He later said the battle was “the most successful of his exploits.”

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