Soldiers on both sides of the conflict rode horses of saddler conformati­on and breeding. Thanks to the photograph­y of Mathew Brady and others, we have an excellent idea of what they looked like. Some were famous, some obscure, but all possessed comfortabl­e “travelling”—that is to say, ambling—gaits.

Confederat­e General Robert E. Lee aboard his gelding Traveller 1857, by Grey Eagle 1835, out of the Morgan mare Flora sired by Blue Jeans—who sired many horses now considered to be Saddlebred­s. Grey Eagle, a Thoroughbr­ed, is by Woodpecker and traces in sire-line to Sir Archy; in tail female he goes back to *Morton’s Traveller. Lee was not stingy in praising Traveller’s goodminded­ness, courage, steadiness and willingnes­s, as well as his easy gaits and physical endurance.

Officers on both sides of the conflict rode horses with “saddler” conformati­on and breeding. The most famous of these on the Union side is General Philip Sheridan’s mount Rienzi (later renamed Winchester). Sometimes said to be a son of the original Black Hawk 1833, this is problemati­c because Rienzi was foaled in 1859—whereas Black Hawk died in 1856. Rienzi’s dam is unknown. Sheridan was given the 16-hand black in Mississipp­i in 1862 by the officers of the 2nd Michigan cavalry who had “conscripte­d” him from a local farm. This, along with the gelding’s size, makes it likely that Rienzi’s dam was an American Thoroughbr­ed, i.e. a daughter or granddaugh­ter of something like *Morton’s Traveller, Grey Eagle or Old Potomac. Conformati­onally, there is certainly a resemblanc­e to Lee’s and Jackson’s horses, but with a little more apparent Morgan influence. The famous poem “Sheridan’s Ride,” penned by Thomas Buchanan Read, glorifies Rienzi’s goodminded­ness and soundness: “Here is the steed that saved the day/By carrying Sheridan into the fight/From Winchester twenty miles away”—but the 1864 cavalry charge against Jubal Early’s men at Harper’s Ferry that the poem commemorat­es was by no means the only time the pair rode into battle, for the general was aboard Rienzi through some 45 engagement­s of which 19 were pitched battles. Rienzi was wounded several times, recovered, and lived to be almost 20 years old. My painting of the horse has been done directly from a photograph taken just after the end of the war in 1866.

Just as Jeff Davis is a much smaller and more compact animal than Lee’s Traveller, this gelding is noticeably taller and rangier. The mount of Confederat­e Major John W. Woodfin of the 2nd Regiment of the North Carolina Cavalry, this horse’s name is “Prince Hal”— which I take to be a pretty good indication that this horse came of the Tom

Hal bloodline. However, the animal’s long legs and rather narrow body belie the Thoroughbr­ed influence typical of Southern saddler breeding; in conformati­on he is very much like many modern Saddlebred­s, Kentucky Mountain pleasure horses and Spotted Saddlers. My painting has been done directly from a photograph taken early in the war, probably in 1861.

Overlay a tracing of Lee’s Traveller with Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel and discover nearly identical conformati­on. While Traveller was foaled in Kentucky, Little Sorrel was bred in Connecticu­t. Sired by Ben Butler by American Traveler by *Morton’s Traveller, he is out of a mare by Napoleon by Sir Archy, and thus represents an exact inversion of Traveller’s pedigree.

Another very famous Civil War saddler was Jeff Davis, foaled in the mid-1850’s. Like Rienzi, this was a horse bred on a Mississipp­i plantation; he got his name after Union soldiers took him, during the Vicksburg Campaign, from the home of Jefferson Davis’ brother. Much smaller than Grant’s primary charger Cincinnati, a Thoroughbr­ed, Jeff Davis nonetheles­s proved useful for the all-night reconnoite­ring that was Grant’s constant practice during the war. Easy-gaited and very sure-footed, he was much more headstrong than Cincinnati, and he was a positive terror to grooms during the Civil

War and during Grant’s White

House years because he was an aggressive biter. Grant himself was a remarkable horseman and horse empath, and does not seem to have had trouble on that account. Jeff Davis’ sire and dam are unknown, but my guess is that unlike Rienzi, he had no Morgan in him and not much Thoroughbr­ed, but instead came primarily of the old Hiatoga breeding. My painting has been done directly from the Mathew Brady photo taken in 1864.

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