Witnessing History

Unsung Hero: The Horse in the Civil War

Unsung Hero: The Horse in the Civil War




Unsung Hero presents the story of the millions of horses (and mules) that were used in all branches of both armies during the Civil War.  It discusses how the horses were procured and trained for field use, how they were fed and maintained, and the toll taken on them due to service in the field.  Millions of horses were utilized by the armies in all theatres of war.  In the large armies, anywhere from forty to sixy thousand horses (and mules) were used in the infantry, cavalry, artillery and quartermaster services.  Regularly feeding, shoeing and maintaining the horses and mules was a near impossible task.  As a result, thousands of horses were lost due to incapacity and malnutrition.  Thousands more were lost on battlefields.  Memoirs of soldiers are read, telling the stories of the horses they recalled and the incredible sacrifices of them.  In the end, more than 1,500,000 horses (and mules) died during the War.

Some of the War’s most famous horses – “Cincinnati,” “Winchester,” “Old Baldy,” “Highfly,” “Little Sorrell,” and “Traveller,” to name a few, are highlighted.  The stories of each of them touches the heart.

Hundreds of magnificent period photographs, drawings, illustrations, along with selected re-enactment scenes are employed to graphically illustrate the role of the horse.  Filming of action scenes took place at the re-enactments of the battles of Richmond and Perryville in Kentucky, as well as Shaker Village at South Union, Kentucky and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Filming also took place at the monument to the Horse in the Civil War that stands in front of the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia, and at Washington & Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.

For further reading:

Lyne Raff, My Heart is Too Full to Say More: The Horse in the Civil War.  Beaumont, TX: Art Horse Press, 2010.  See lyneraff@aol.com.

Francis T. Miller, Photographic History of the Civil War.  New York: Review of Reviews, 1911.  10 vols.

Kent Masterson Brown, Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign.  Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2005.  See http://www.uncpress.unc.edu


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