EQUUS - - Conformati­on Insights -

This shot of Gen. Al­fred Plea­son­ton was taken by pho­tog­ra­pher Ti­mothy O’Sul­li­van in 1863 near Fal­mouth, Vir­ginia. The horse is of rather heavy build, and the breeding is a lit­tle hard to pin­point; there is Mor­gan in­flu­ence and Thor­ough­bred too, but I also think Cana­dian and even pos­si­bly some draft. Whips are rarely seen in Civil War photos, but there is an off-side shot taken mo­ments later show­ing the gen­eral hold­ing one. The sad­dle is a McClel­lan and the bri­dle a reg­u­la­tion com­bi­na­tion hal­ter-bri­dle with nose­band, but there is no bridoon.

Plea­son­ton was a ca­reer of­fi­cer and one of the most ef­fec­tive of Union cavalry gen­er­als. He ob­served, “[Cavalry horses] would of­ten en­dure thrice as much if peo­ple knew how to care for them. If in­fantry­men are on the march, a care­ful cap­tain will see that his men, when a halt is made, are made to rest. [Their tack] is re­moved ... cof­fee is made, and when they start off again they are new men. Horses, on the con­trary, are gen­er­ally made to stand with sad­dles and bri­dles on, and very fre­quently a heavy man on top.”

This Cana­dian type be­longed to a Cap­tain Beck­with, an ar­tillery corps­man of the Army of the Po­tomac; the horse is held in this 1864 shot by an African-Amer­i­can or­derly. The Cana­dian horse is sim­i­lar to the Mor­gan in out­line but some­what heav­ier, and they were es­pe­cially sought for the ar­tillery.

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