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Over the course of 3 days, between July 1 and July 3, 1863, the Battle at Gettysburg was fought.  When it was over, around 3100 Union soldiers had been killed.  Lee's Army lost approximately 4,000 soldiers.  Less often commented upon is that between 3,000 and 5,000 horses and mules were killed in the engagement.  It has been estimated that at least 1.5 million horses and mules were killed during the war, and perhaps as many as 3.5 million.  For every soldier killed during the Civil War, almost 5 horses met a similar fate.

In an account of the events at Gettysbug, General Gibbons of the Union Army made this observation of the horses in Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing's 4th Artillery Brigade:

One thing which forcibly occurred to me was the perfect quiet with which the horses stood in their places.  Even when a shell, striking in the midst of a team, would knock over one or two of them or hurl one struggling in its death agonies to the ground, the rest would make no effort to struggle or escape but would stand stolidly by as if saying to themselves, "It is fate, it is useless to try to avoid it."
The Civil War could not have been fought as it was without all of those horses and mules.  They were absolutely indispensable to both sides.  And they paid dearly as a result of that indispensableness. For that matter, so, too, did many a farmer and noncombatant, whose horses were confiscated routinely over the course of the war by both Union and Confederate forces, leaving them without draft animals that they depended upon for their livelihood.

Join me, history lovers and horse lovers, for a look at an aspect of the Civil War that rarely gets much attention.

Before I begin, I wish for you all to follow this link to a google image.  It is an iconic photo from the Civil War, taken near Sharpsburg, Maryland in 1862 after the battle at Antietam.  In a book compiling his own letters from the Civil War, Union General Alpheus S. Williams described the scene thusly:

The number of dead horses was high. They lay, like the men, in all attitudes. One beautiful milk-white animal had died in so graceful a position that I wished for its photograph. Its legs were doubled under and its arched neck gracefully turned to one side, as if looking back to the ball-hole in its side. Until you got to it, it was hard to believe the horse was dead.

One cannot overstate the vital importance of both horses and mules during the Civil War.  The cavalries on both sides rode them.  The materiel and supplies that each side depended upon was hauled by them.  The artillery pieces and heavy guns could not be moved from battle to battle, or maneuvered during battle, without them.  They carried the Generals and other high ranking officers into battle, and they transported the wounded soldiers away from battle to hospitals behind the lines.  They were, truly, the backbone of the Army.

During the first year of the Civil War, the toll on horses was especially high.  Neither side expected the conflict to last as long as it ultimately would, and the Union troops, especially, were filled with green recruits who were not very familiar with horses except as draft animals.  The Confederate soldiers, on the other hand, were still much more likely to be adept riders, owing to the terrain and less developed infrastructure of the South.  In many early battles, Union artillery units made tactical blunders by leaving their horses unprotected and exposed after positioning their cannon.  Confederate sharpshooters quickly noticed their mistake, and would target the horses right out of the gate.  After the skirmish, unless there were Union reinforcements close at hand, many pieces of artillery were simply abandoned due to lack of means to move them, and fell into Confederate hands.

Still, a horse isn't too terribly easy to kill with a single shot, unless it is at close range.  Often, a horse could take up to five bullets before it would drop.  In a letter to his brother back home, Union Lt. Haskell recounted the fate of his own horse, "Billy."  He had been riding half asleep, which was common for battle weary cavalrymen, after a skirmish earlier in the day.  The horse was plodding along at a slow pace, and could not be made to move any faster in spite of being spurred.  Lt Haskell noted that the horse had perhaps taken a shot or two earlier in the day, but nothing to make it go lame.  Coming upon an ambulance unit after dark, he borrowed a lantern to more thoroughly inspect his mount, and found that it had been shot in the chest and was bleeding profusely, with air escaping its lungs through the wound.  In his letter he confesses

I begged his (Billy's) pardon mentally for my cruelty in spurring him, and should have done so in words if he could have understood me.
Lt Haskell's horse died just moments later from its wounds, and he had no idea how long he had been riding him in such a state.

The horses that died from gunfire or artillery shells were the fortunate ones.  Many, many more suffered a much more cruel death.  Many were simply ridden to death, either due to the exigencies of battle or to poor judgement by cavalry leaders.  Some were wore down over time, became sick or lame, and were either abandoned or shot.  Horses were used to haul supplies without being shod, and their hooves would wear down to the quick until they could no longer walk.  Towards the end of the war, when the pace became more frenetic, many horse which had been ridden hard and became ill, but weren't actually lame, were nonetheless shot and killed by rear guard troops simply because they didn't have time to wait for them to recuperate.  It was deemed preferable to allowing a still serviceable horse to fall into enemy hands.  And feeding them was always an issue.

The recommended feed ration for a horse was 14 lbs of hay and 12 lbs of grain.  Multiply that by the hundreds of horses a large unit would typically have, and you can see how simply feeding them became a logistical challenge of its own.  One Union General estimated that the forces under his command required over 800,000 lbs of feed each day to maintain their horses.  A wagon could carry about one ton of feed, so the General needed 400 wagons just to transport a day's worth of feed for the horses.

Much of the fighting during the war was done on Southern soil, and as the war drug on feeding the horses became an increasingly difficult issue.  Most of the horses belonging to the civilian population had already been confiscated by one side or the other.  That left Southern farmers without farm animals to pull a plow, not to mention the fact that able bodied men were in short supply as well.  As the farms languished, troops found it harder to even find grain or hay to steal from the local populace, so the horses went increasingly without, or with severely curtailed rations.  As the horses grew more emaciated, the saddles no longer fit them properly, causing horrendous, oozing wounds to their backs.

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was an adept cavalry man, who knew the military value of the horse.  He issued explicit directives to his commanders to tend to the feeding and watering of the horses in their units immediately whenever the opportunity to stop and rest presented itself.  Still, on his 900 some mile march towards Atlanta, he lost fully one quarter of the horses he started off with to starvation.  There are accounts by cavalrymen of horses becoming so hungry that they would eat the tails and manes of each other, and chew at the soldiers' uniforms.

When we think of the Civil War, we think of it being such a long and bloody conflict.  Fiercely fought, face to face, under grueling circumstances.  It was all that, and more.  But the toll taken upon the horses and mules that were so key to the military forces of the day is not often considered.

Perhaps the most famous horse from the Civil War was Robert E. Lees grey mount, Traveller.  He acquired the horse in 1861, for $200, and was greatly attached to it.  Lee died in 1870, and Traveller walked, riderless, in the funeral parade with Lee's empty boots backwards in the stirrups.  Traveller died just a year later.  When one thinks of all of the miliatry campaigns that Lee and his horse Traveller lived through, and the fate so many other horses met in that war, it is almost ironic that Traveller's end came after the horse stepped on a nail and developed tetanus.  Traveller had to be euthanized.

When Lee met with his adversary, Grant, to surrender at Appomattox CH, to hammer out the terms of surrender, it was not a completely unconditional surrender.  While agreeing that the soldiers under his command would give up their weapons, Lee insisted upon their right to keep their horses if they had one.  Grant agreed to that stipulation, understanding that if a former soldier was to return to the farm he had left behind, he'd need a horse to put the next crop in with.

Mon Oct 15, 2012 at  1:48 AM PT: For those who want to read more on the Civil War, or learn about historical sites in your area, I highly recommend the web site of the Civil War Trust:

Originally posted to Keith930 on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 06:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (147+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan from 29, Miss Blue, palantir, Horace Boothroyd III, concernedamerican, nuclear winter solstice, Mayfly, ruleoflaw, Dirtandiron, Vicky, raster44, swampyankee, VClib, CA ridebalanced, Wreck Smurfy, NYmom, bhfrik, Margd, The Pollster, Azazello, crose, vcmvo2, monkeybrainpolitics, TBug, Illinois IRV, shesaid, terabytes, Ice Blue, brainwave, IndyinDelaware, beka, nupstateny, quill, revsue, RonV, NNadir, David54, out of left field, whirledpeas, 207wickedgood, dotdash2u, slapshoe, mellowinman, prfb, Former Chicagoan Now Angeleno, asterlil, ActivistGuy, cacamp, daveygodigaditch, rmonroe, magnetics, Ahianne, katasstrophy, grover, misscee, catfishbob, Shockwave, 2thanks, gloriana, paytheline, amsel, denise b, hoolia, radarlady, PinHole, BlueMississippi, Egalitare, Knucklehead, SteelerGrrl, Sandy on Signal, uciguy30, Kentucky Kid, Matt Z, ER Doc, HeartlandLiberal, helpImdrowning, wolf advocate, tonyahky, barnowl, Leslie in KY, aravir, LaFeminista, FloridaSNMOM, arlene, dance you monster, paradox, offred, tapestry, Debby, Powered Grace, semiot, Lefty Ladig, jcrit, ZedMont, triplepoint, vtjim, Nebraskablue, Liberal Mole, BlueDragon, Habitat Vic, Buckeye54, Late Again, Marihilda, UFOH1, skwimmer, third Party please, PBen, dejavu, JVolvo, spunhard, Senor Unoball, witkacy, Iron Spider, pimutant, elfling, sweettp2063, skyounkin, enufisenuf, toys, mjfgates, WheninRome, Temmoku, OMwordTHRUdaFOG, markdd, nio, wildweasels, strangedemocracy, Wood Dragon, AuroraDawn, emmasnacker, Native Light, johanus, Bionic, JaxDem, desert rain, Karl Rover, illegal smile, Denver11, Larsstephens, jfdunphy, BusyinCA, lightfoot, Brian1066, science nerd, Mathazar, RJP9999, pixxer

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 06:08:08 PM PDT

  •  We stopped at a tavern near Gettysburg (36+ / 0-)

    battlefield some years ago. One of the bar tenders was a re-enactor who showed us some of his battlefield finds. While we were standing in the parking lot he mentioned the turkey vultures gliding overhead. According to him, the mountains of dead horses after the battle drew the buzzards to Gettysburg where they returned every year thereafter. Don't know if it was a true story or a bit of local lore, but it altered the way we viewed cannonball parks from then on.

    Thank you for this diary about those forgotten heroes.

    "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

    by Susan Grigsby on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 06:18:39 PM PDT

    •  A civil war poem by Whitman: (9+ / 0-)

      Cavalry Crossing a Ford

      A LINE in long array, where they wind betwixt green islands;     
      They take a serpentine course—their arms flash in the sun—Hark to the musical clank;     
      Behold the silvery river—in it the splashing horses, loitering, stop to drink;     
      Behold the brown-faced men—each group, each person, a picture—the negligent rest on the saddles;     
      Some emerge on the opposite bank—others are just entering the ford—while,           
      Scarlet, and blue, and snowy white,     
      The guidon flags flutter gaily in the wind.

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:43:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, Palantir...I don't do pootie diaries, but I (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan from 29, Larsstephens, palantir

      could do many more horse diaries, of various sorts.  They sort of frighten me, to be honest, though I probably have more experience with them than most people.  They can bite...and if you've never seen or experienced a horse bite...they can put a clamp on you.  And they can kick.  My uncle was a ferrier for many years, and was knocked out cold by one of his own horses that kicked him while he was shoeing the animal.

      I have ridden horses growing up, sporadically, but I will admit I've never ridden a horse at full gallop.  A good canter makes me tense up enough.  It's fun, and a little nervous at the same time.  I love them, and admire them, but I'm not completely at home on the back of one.  

      I wish I were, though.  And we won't even go into the money I have wagered upon them over the years.  I have probably come out about even, but one always thinks they are a better judge of race horses than you ultimately are.

      They are just wonderful creatures, and to spend any time around them is to form a bond with them.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 12:57:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My 92 yr old Dad was in the horse Cavalry (24+ / 0-)

    and years ago, he and I watched "In Pursuit of Honor", a Don Johnson tv movie about cavalry horses.
    I though my Dad would stand up and salute any minute.  
    The horses were everything.  The mules were everything.
    They were soldiers.


  •  I LOVE this diary. We forget in general how much (18+ / 0-)

    pre-automobile society revolved around horses.  Last year I read a fantastic book that changed my understanding of cities and city life in the nineteenth century:  The Horse in the City:  Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century, by Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr.   The chapter on "Feeding the Urban Horse" offers really interesting information on the symbiotic relationship between a city or a large town (with a lot of horses) and the agricultural region around it, from which the horses' food would be largely drawn.  Each depended on the other; some scholars speculate that the decline of horse populations (due to the advent of the automobile) was a factor in the great agricultural depression of the early 20th century.  

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 06:38:34 PM PDT

  •  I loved reading about the horses. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose, ER Doc

    The most famous animal from my neck-of-the-woods was Old Abe. Many parks, buildings, trails, etc. are named after him.

    Old Abe, War Eagle

  •  I happened to post earlier in a different thread (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Wreck Smurfy, NYmom, crose, ER Doc

    a picture of Colonel Potter from M*A*S*H- and horses were everything to him, too. Had me thinking about them.
    Nice diary.

  •  The battle of Antietam (8+ / 0-)

    has a memorable horse story passed down through the years that has always stuck in my mind.  

    Gen. Longstreet and a group of officers decided to observe the Union army from a hill top.  The group dismounted in order to not present a target to enemy gunners, but General AP Hill was feeling a bit tired, so he decided to stay mounted.  When they crested the hilltop Longstreet saw a burst of white smoke from a Union cannon he estimated to be a mile distant, and remarked that there was a shot intended for Hill.  

    Longstreet looked towards Gen. Hill and saw his horse drop forward onto it's knees.  The shot had passed through the poor animals forelegs clipping them off.  General Longstreet averred that it was one of the best artillery shots he saw in the entire war.  

    General Hill was forced to dismount by throwing his leg over the animals saddle pommel.

    I am the neo-con nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

    by bhfrik on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 06:52:52 PM PDT

    •  a much more common fate was that of the horses (3+ / 0-)

      and mules during Gen Ambrose Burnside's ill fated Mud March in January, 1863.  After getting his ass kicked at Fredericksburg, he thought he's lift his company's spirits by attacking the Confederate forces nearby.  A slow rain turned into a deluge, and the roads became a muddy quagmire.

      The wagons carrying material to build a pontoon bridge over the Rappahannock River were heavy, and required 3 and 4 teams of horses to move in the mud.  Confederate forces on the other side of the river plowed the fields to make sure the mud would be just as thick if Burnside made it across the river.

      A reporter from the New York Times wrote that the mud was knee deep, and that horses and mules were dropping like flies.  They simply died from exhaustion.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 03:15:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Glad to see this diary. (15+ / 0-)

    I do historical re-enacting, both Revolutionary War and World War II. In fact, I did a WWII event this weekend.

    Horses continued to be the prime movers for most armies until the end of WWII. Only the Commonwealth and American armies were completely motorized. The so-called "advanced" German Army relied on horses for about 80% of their tactical transport right thru to the end of the war. And most armies used horse cavalry until 1945, as well. Horses on the WWII battlefields fared even worse than their Civil War counterparts, what with high-explosive shells, automatic weapons, and air attacks.

    We should also spare a kind thought for the humble ox. Oxen are far more efficient draught animals than horses, unless speed is a factor, and on poor roads it isn't. Oxen have suffered at least as badly in war as horses, and are even more forgotten.

    -8.38, -7.74 My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

    by Wreck Smurfy on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 07:13:15 PM PDT

  •  Good diary, thanks. (5+ / 0-)

    You know, as much as people talk about Blitzkreig in WW2, the German Army relied on draft horses during their invasions on the Eastern Front. Millions of horses died in that war too, and a lot of them were eaten.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 07:42:33 PM PDT

  •  Our headlong surge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine, Keith930, ER Doc

    into the new millennium has caused us to leave behind much that was important to our most recent ancestors. The ongoing drought and economic collapse has furthered that cultural disconnection--horses are left to starve, turned out onto public range, bought by unscrupulous men and funneled into Mexican slaughterhouses...time and this part of the world have left horses behind. Someday they may join tigers in near extinction.

    •  This is so true!! It really wasn't that long ago (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      207wickedgood, Keith930, ER Doc, IreGyre, jbob

      that having a horse (outside of the big cities) meant you had means to earn a living.  Horses were a mainstay of the US Army through WWII, even though it was waining (sp??) during WWII.  Kids in more rural America still rode horses to school in the 50's as cars were just too expensive and the roads were too hard on the cars.

      •  As recent as the early 1960's in upsate New York (0+ / 0-)

        When I lived near the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian border as young boy. The family next door were diary farmers. They kept a team of draft horses and still had all the old horse drawn farming implements for use when the tractors were broken down. I saw them get used in the fields.

  •  Really well done! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, ER Doc

    Thank you for this perspective.

    In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:04:21 PM PDT

  •  A very good diary. In Richard Slotkin's "The... (17+ / 0-)

    ...Long Road to Antietam" which I finished not so long ago, there is a description of the shelling of the Confederate army in which D.H. Hill was riding a horse when its front legs were blown off by a shell.    Hill of course fell to the ground, and the reaction of the other Generals around him was to break out laughing.

    It's a terrible and grotesque tale...

    I minor correction.    General Lee did not insist on the men in his army being allowed to keep their horses.    He had no right to "insist" on anything.

    It went like this:    Grant wrote out the surrender terms, and Lee read them over, whereupon he said to Grant, "there is one thing I would like to mention.   In our Army, unlike the army of the United States, the individual soldiers own their horses in our armies.."

    Grant ignored the suggestion - this late in the game - that there were two countries and said, "You will see that the terms as written do not allow this."

    Lee read the document and agreed that it did not say that.

    Then Grant, feeling his way, said, "Of course I did not know this, that individual men owned their own horses, the subject is new to me."   Grant had been a small farmer himself, a failed small farmer. "I suppose that most of the men are small farmers and they will need their horses to put in a crop.    I will not change the terms as written, but I will stipulate that any man who claims to own a horse or mule will be allowed to keep it to work his little farm."

    Lee said, appreciating Grant's generosity, "This will have a happy effect upon the men, and will do much to conciliate our people."

    But all Lee did was to point the situation out.   It was totally in Grant's power to reject him on this point.

    The fact is that without Ulysses S. Grant, both as general and as President it is very unlikely that the wounds of the Civil War would have healed at all.    If President Grant had had his way, by the way, we not have had the century of racial tragedy that followed the Civil War.    Grant was the last great Civil Rights President until Lyndon Johnson.

    Robert E. Lee was a defeated traitor and in many other similar situations in history, might have ended up being hanged, but Grant - a tremendous spirit and a towering American - put this aside in order to help his country heal.

    When Grant was dying at Mount McGregor, many former confederate soldiers wrote to him to say that they appreciated him as much as those who fought for the Union.

    Grant, who was considered by many to be the best horseman in the army by the way, has been often maligned by historians, but the fact is, that he was not only one of the greatest Generals in US history, he was also one of the greatest Presidents in US history, no matter how often he is maligned.    I insist that this is true:   Without his stature and his personality, without his guidance and governance, the Civil War might well have flared up several times more, and not just in outlaw lynchings and the like.

    •  that war will never be over will it? n/t (5+ / 0-)

      America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

      by cacamp on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:39:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In a way, at least for much of the South, even (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse, ER Doc, wolf advocate

        the civilian population was caught up in so much of the actual prosecution of the war.  Most of the fighting took place there, and so they were never spared the harsh realities of war the way most in the North were.  There was real deprivation and hardship endured by the women and families whose husbands, brothers and fathers went off to fight.

        When Union forces destroyed crops in the South, in order to cause Lee's army difficulty in supplying its troops and horses, it also starved civilians.

        I'll never forget the first time I met a real Southerner as a kid back in the 60's.  I had an uncle who was  career Airforce, and who had married a lady from Georgia while stationed there.  She was a nice woman, but sort of fiery.  First time I met her at a family reunion in Ohio she was telling some story when, in the midst of telling it, she used the word Yankee, and even as a 10 year old I noticed the way she just spit that word out, like tobacco juice.

        Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

        by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:25:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I was interested to find out (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pimutant, Ahianne, NNadir

        mostly from "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by James Loewen, that

        ...he was not only one of the greatest Generals in US history, he was also one of the greatest Presidents in US history, no matter how often he is maligned.
        most of the 'maligning' (including the accusations of drunkenness and corruption) were in large part the racists' response to Grant's being
        ...the last great Civil Rights President until Lyndon Johnson.

        "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

        by bartcopfan on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 09:59:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Grant is justifiably one of America's great heroes (7+ / 0-)

      My most accounts his moral character was outstanding (accusations of drunkenness aside).

      Reading his autobiography, you get a sense that despite being president and a revered war hero, he still managed to maintain some humility.

      I was also struck by the fact that "Grant the Butcher" was personally sickened by carnage, to the point where he didn't even like his meat bloody.

      He was also a great horse trainer as well as being a brilliant horseman. One of the few subjects where he got full marks at West Point was in horsemanship.

      •  Grant on bull fighting (4+ / 0-)

        Grant hated cruelty to animals of any kind. When he was in Mexico (during the war we had with Mexico, which is nearly forgotten in the US) he saw a bull fight, and wrote this in his autobiography:

        Every Sunday there was a bull fight for the amusement of those who would pay their fifty cents. I attended one of them-–just one–-not wishing to leave the country without having witnessed the national sport. The sight to me was sickening. I could not see how human beings could enjoy the sufferings of beasts, and often of men, as they seemed to do on these occasions.
        I'm reading his memoirs, slowly since I'm also busy with other things, and I highly recommend it. It is widely available on-line for free, both as a PDF and an ePub.

        If your internal map of reality doesn't match external conditions, bad things happen.--Cambias

        by pimutant on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 10:35:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  New Grant bio (5+ / 0-)

    Just out. "The Man Who Saved The Union" by H. W. Brands. I just got is so I haven't read it year, but the reviews are good.

    The easiest way to change the world is to become a historian.

  •  Well done. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    I've been researching the men (individually) who served from this area for the last 2 years.  It has been the most exciting, sad, and educational experience of my life.

    I never gave a thought to the horses and mules.  Now, I'm sure, it will be foremost on my mind as I continue.  Thank you.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:32:55 PM PDT

  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, ER Doc

    for this story.

  •  Another book that discussed at length (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, ER Doc, IreGyre

    the value of horses, and the care and feeding that was necessary to maintain them, is "Lee's Cavalrymen" by the prolific Civil War author, Edward Longacre.

    "Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army" Edward Everett 1852

    by Alan Arizona on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:51:13 PM PDT

  •  The madness of war (5+ / 0-)

    Just this little piece is an indictment of the Hairless Ape.

    The recommended feed ration for a horse was 14 lbs of hay and 12 lbs of grain.  Multiply that by the hundreds of horses a large unit would typically have, and you can see how simply feeding them became a logistical challenge of its own.  One Union General estimated that the forces under his command required over 800,000 lbs of feed each day to maintain their horses.  A wagon could carry about one tone of feed, so the General needed 400 wagons just to transport feed for the horses.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:51:21 PM PDT

  •  John D. Billings' classic and engaging book (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, wolf advocate, swampyankee

    about mundane soldier life in the Union infantry, "Coffee and Hardtack," relates stories about the troops being put to work burying horses after battles.

    Perhaps needless to say, it was arduous, unwelcome, and revolting duty... which Billings describes in indirect but plain prose. (One of the illustrations shows a green burial party member giving an "Hurrah without the 'H'."

    It was just the sort of thing for 'old soldiers' to remember in their later years.

  •  My grandfather fought in WWI - had been in cavalry (7+ / 0-)

    He didn't ride at the front, obviously, but he told us that horses and mules were everywhere at the time (pulling wagons, guns, kitchens on wheels, hauling supplies in packs).

    He also told us that when they were hit under shellfire, it wasn't unusual to see them disembowled by the shell fragments.  

    If they still had their legs, often they'd try to run, pulling their guts out even more, and then they'd scream until they died, or until someone shot them, incoming fire permitting.

    Hard to imagine, experiencing something like that.

  •  Special Forces STILL fight on horseback (10+ / 0-)

    The Horseman still has a place in the battle in today's combat. The special forces on 'wily afghan horses' made good use of them in Afghanistan.

    Corb Lund's wonderful song "Horse Soldier Horse Soldier" Captures the spirit and elan of the cavalryman.

    And yes, I've had the great good fortune to train cavalry mounts for combat for film and re-enactment. The horses don't know the guns are firing blanks, or that the swords aren't sharp. It's the same set of skills.

    Horse Soldier Horse Soldier

    The GOP Prime Directive: Be Silent - Consume - DIE!

    by Lance Bearer on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:14:10 PM PDT

    •  Cavalry horses at the time had their own boot camp (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, the fan man, bartcopfan, Ahianne

      These horses were trained to lay down at their riders command, whereupon the riders would dismount, lay on the ground next to them, and soldiers from some distance away would fire rifles volleys with live rounds over them.  If a horse panicked and rose up, it was hit by live rounds and did not "graduate" from basic training.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 12:45:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Happened to my Great-Grandfather (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        swampyankee, Keith930

        in the Civil War - Col. Charles Edward Phelps, Maryland Brigade, 7th Maryland volunteer regiment, leading a charge on horseback at the battle of Spottsylvania Courthouse, May 8, 1864. When within 10-20 yards of the breastworks the confederates either purposely or accidentally shot his horse, who fell sideways and backwards, my GGF dismounted behind and was protected for awhile behind the horse, but afterward, took a bullet through the breast and arm. Shortly thereafter, as the charge was repulsed, my GGF was captured and held for a few days until he was rescued by troops under Gen Sheridan and Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Basically he was well treated by the Confederates, though on account of his fine overcoat was mistaken for a General upon capture, and told by a trooper "you're lucky sir - we had orders to kill 'that general'"

        While he was in custody, his gold watch was stolen. Two years later, when he was serving in congress from Baltimore, he received the watch back with a note,  saying (paraphrased) "Sorry sir, for taking your watch. Glad you have survived..."  

        Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

        by blindcynic on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 11:42:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  this is a great story, and you are so fortunate (0+ / 0-)

          to have inherited it.  You should diary's awesome.  Seriously.  I enjoyed writing this diary, and yours is my favorite comment.  Thank you.

          Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

          by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:02:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks - it was a lot longer before editing... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I have comments he made about this event from the Maryland Archives, Volume 0367 page 0272. But also, his grandson, Charles Phelps Barnett, my cousin (once removed?) now deceased, in his later years researched the event quite throughly and wrote a Monograph 50+ pages. Many comments about horses and their use in battle. Here's an example:

            "The men of the Maryland Brigade did not seem to comprehend that they were to make an immediate assault. They contemplated a few moments of rest with an opportunity for any food that could be had. This pleasant illusion was abruptly dispelled by the command 'Batallons forward! Guide Center!

            Most of the Officers quickly dismounted and sent their horses to the rear. This was the practice of both armies whenever field fortifications were to be assailed. Experience has shown early in the war that on such occasions the mounted officer's horse was sooner or later certain to be disabled. Moreover, even if the animal survived the charge, it was regarded as sheer folly to ride an average horse up to a parapet which only a picked,  trained horse could jump, even in the best of circumstances.

            The Colonel was well aware of the hazard of attacking on horseback. He was  also quite aware of the military dictum that troops in combat tended to fire a little too high. Hence the precautionary command to "aim low". Going in on horseback, the Colonel thought, caused one to soar through this upper stratum of random bullets. The Mounted officer also presented a conspicuous and inviting target for the enemies' sharpshooters.

            While there might be some inspirational effect upon troop morale, by the presence of mounted officers, this was more then offset by the almost inevitable loss of officer command at the enemy breastworks when leadership would be most needed.

            But in spite of this theory, the charge of the various regiments devolved into much chaos. he reviewed his men by 'riding the line' to inspire them, but took a tactical position in the rear of the regiment. but within a few minutes of moving forward more chaos ensued and disorganization was rampant. He felt he had no choice (after having one horse shot from under him earlier in the day) to get out in front, rally the men, get them focussed, and pull the charge together again, which he did. As they approached the breastworks almost within pistol range...
            "It was apparent to Colonel Phelps [last mounted union officer in the battle] that they must either run through the firing or run from it. The risk of the latter seemed greater than the former"
            So they charged. As the Colonel's horse fell and trapped him for a moment underneath it,  the horse was some protection.
            Almost at the instant he fell, Capt Ephraim Anderson of Co. I was at his side. Seizing the bridle, Anderson attempted to relieve the his Colonel of the weight of the horse. Declining the Captain's assistance  he ordered him "ON!" pointing toward the breastworks Anderson took a step or two in that direction then...he sank heavily to the earth Three Minie balls struck the Captain almost simultaneously and the Colonel believed [that] the wounds would be fatal.
            So I had always thought he was demonstrating gallantry by being up front in purpose, but in reading this the first time I realized that he knew, tactically, that  it was a bad idea, but a few minutes later felt compelled to do it anyway or the charge would surely be lost.

            Many years after the war in the 1890s he was awarded the Congressional Medal or Honor as were thousends of others. It took many years to sift through all the battle records. At the time of this battle he was 31 years old and a Harvard lawyer by trade, not a West Pointer.

            So we've told these and other military stories around the house for many years. I was AF Pilot/ordinance/nukes during Vietnam, grandfather (GGF's son) was a Navy Captain/Admiral in WWI (and that's another interesting story, Largest ship in the world, Navy cross.....).

            But I was as surprised as anyone when, after college 4 years ago, my son decided to Join Army Special Forces and be a Combat Medic. Took three years, coulda washed out at any time, but he just got back last Friday from Afganistan, in one piece, helped many civilians along the way, and remarked "if they'd let me stay another 10 months, I'd do it in a heartbeat..."

            As we used to say in the Air Force "cheated death again!!" (and "any landing you can walk away from is a good landing...")

            Hope this helped to get some firsthand observations of how horses played a role in the civil war and the military thought behind handling them. Thanks for your diary, very thought provoking...

            Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

            by blindcynic on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 08:16:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Heart breaking. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man

    And how we abuse the loyalty of our horses and our dogs!

    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Shakespeare, Henry V

    by Wildthumb on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 10:05:27 PM PDT

  •  Great diary. Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 10:40:02 PM PDT

  •  3100 + 4000 = 7000 soldiers dead. (0+ / 0-)

    I thought over 50,000 died at Gettysburg?

    "Nothing preserves Democracy better than the stupidity of its opponents" - KO

    by buckshot face on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 02:59:57 AM PDT

    •  I think that is casualties (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I tend to think of casualties as war dead, but I believe the term also includes wounded, which explains the higher numbers you cite.  Casualties may also include missing in action?  

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 03:19:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  casualties? includes wounded? (0+ / 0-)

      a lot more wounded than fatalities.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 04:26:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  FWIW, more ACW soldiers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        died from disease than bullets.  Close quarters, poor hygiene, worse sanitation.  I've seen at least one picture of troops with the latrine on one side of the tent and the kitchen on the other.

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 11:25:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  While delving into my family genealogy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I found I had one gggrandfather on my Dad's side who was captured in the Civil War and sent to New York's infamous Elmira POW Camp, while one on my Mom's side was captured and sent to Andersonville.

          They both survived, but the camps were both horrible cesspools.

          Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

          by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 11:42:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No sense buying lotto tickets (0+ / 0-)

            Your family has already used up their luck. 8^)

            “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

            by markdd on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 10:00:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The devastation to all life that is the result of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man

    war is indeed sickening and sad.  It is only too sorrowful that humanity doesn't fully understand this even today.  One can only hope that one day we will.  Best wishes and peace to all.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by helpImdrowning on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 04:24:56 AM PDT

    •  It is a primary reason to keep women out of power. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      IMHO the impetus to keep the machine of war in perpetual motion would be lost.

      Conservatives will give every reason under the sun for why women should be kept at home.  That's the real reason.

      Women make terrific soldiers but not great warmongers.

  •  Thank you for your diary. Horses and dogs are (0+ / 0-)

    the most noble of our animal friends. They have been invaluable to humanity. Horses and dogs have the biggest hearts - treat them well and they will do anything for you. I just hope that one day, mankind will stop the cruelty to animals and respect their life on earth. Dogs are magnificent because their ancestors are wolves (which are currently being slaughtered again here in the Rockies, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota - as they were before). When will we learn? My heart is broken as I mourn for the hundreds of my wolf brothers and sisters tortured and murdered for no reason.

  •  Speaking of horses and Gettysburg (0+ / 0-)

    You can actually see the stuffed head of the horse General Meade, leader of Union forces at Gettysburg, rode at the battle.  Old Baldy had been wounded several times during the course of the war, and was shot in the stomach at Gettysburg.  At that point, Meade sent Old Baldy to the rear; that was the horse's last battle.  

    Two years after the horse died, two Union veterans disinterred it, and had the horse's head stuffed.  So, if you're visiting Philadelphia, check out the Grand Army of the Republic Museum, just past the intersection of Frankford and Kensington, between Ruan and Church Streets.  Plan ahead:

    Tues. 12 noon - 4 pm (call for staff availability)
    Open House 1st Sun of Month 12 noon - 5 pm
    with a program at 1:30 pm

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 05:08:59 AM PDT

  •  Morgan horses used by military (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elmo, Keith930, skwimmer, pimutant

    Morgans were bred by the military in vast numbers.  At a small museum dedicated to this breed

    my husband and I learned that the life expectancy of a horse used in the Civil War was six weeks.

    Six weeks.  

    We are terribly attached to our Morgan, a rescue animal who is flighty, yet kind.  I cannot imagine him going through such horrors.

    Reason, observation, and experience; the holy trinity of science. Robert Green Ingersoll

    by offred on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 05:36:39 AM PDT

  •  Lee was in no position to insist on anything (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at Appomattox. He asked if soldiers could keep their horses, and Grant graciously allowed that any soldier who owned his own horse could do so.

  •  war horse makes clear (3+ / 0-)

    that horses were used in this way

    i think you are a little hard on spielberg because he did a very good deed by popularizing this story of a horse who made it through but whose companions did not.

    i really, really loathed war more after watching war horse

    what humans do to their animals is a measure of our humanity or lack of.

    i love the diary, even so, especially the pic of the dead white horse

    Donate to Occupy Wall Street here:

    by BlueDragon on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 06:19:57 AM PDT

  •  A quote comes to mind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I may have it wrong but the gist:

    "History was written from the back of a horse"

  •  Nice job on a subject I hadn't thought much about. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    But the toll taken upon the horses and mules that were so key to the military forces of the day is not often considered.
    The logistical comments you quote are astounding and I'm sure grazing was quite sporadic at best.

    About the only possible thing I can think to add is that my understanding is that, esp. for cavalry, laying one's horse down to hide behind (like a bunch of sandbags) was pretty standard procedure.  Good for the soldier, not so much for the horse.

    Again, thank you.

    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

    by bartcopfan on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 08:47:41 AM PDT

  •  Horses and mules have not disappeared from modern (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OMwordTHRUdaFOG, Keith930

    warfare.  It was mules that took the fight to the Russians in Afghanistan.  Mules were absolutely necessary for bringing supplies over the mountains from Pakistan and became a priority targets for the Russians.  

    I would guess that they were being killed in significant numbers.  When there were no more to found in Pakistan Charlie Wilson bought all the mules and donkeys he could get his hands on in Egypt, was paying a premium of a $1,000+ to get them to the field.  When the supply ran short there he bought mules in TN and flew them to Pakistan.  

    A major focus for Charlie's in executing his war was the development of a mule portable anti-aircraft gun to shoot the down the Russian, helicopter gunships that were decimating the Afghan fighters.  The Swiss eventually came up with as semi-serviceable gun but the Stinger wound up sorting the problem out.

    Our special forces also road horses and mules into the mountains of Afghanistan.

    •  We should send our BLM (0+ / 0-)

      horses  to Afghanistan. Make it so only women can own them. Empty transport going to get our materiel and manpower can load up horses and offload them there.

      By all accounts the species originated in Afghanistan.

  •  Thanks for sharing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Had never thought about the plight of horses and mules in the ACW.  

    Couple of factoids:

    At the outbreak of WWII only a small portion of the German Blitzkrieg was actually mechanized, most of the infantry troops were transported by horse.

    I read somewhere that 1917 was the last year that agricultural production was more for livestock than human consumption.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 11:19:58 AM PDT

  •  I have several letters written (0+ / 0-)

    from a relative who served (and died) during the Civil War. He talks about the horses who were shot from under him and how he would just catch a loose horse and go on. It was a slight wound to his hand that killed him -- gangrene probably.


  •  I just finnished 2 Sam Houston bios (0+ / 0-)

    He had 2 horses shot from under him in the battle of San Jacinto.
    He also spoke of campaigns being conducted & the indian buffalo hunts/migrations coinsiding w/ the spring & fall rains, new GRASSES

    Our president has his failings, but compared to Mitt Romney he is a paradigm of considered and compassionate thought.

    by OMwordTHRUdaFOG on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 11:41:13 AM PDT

  •  My Great Grandfather (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, johanus

    ...rented out his prize team of Percherons to help dig canals along the St. Lawrence.
    The horses each made twice as much as his daily salary...
    The amazing thing is the cultural amnesia has taken hold so quickly.
    My Grandfather could go sparking and have the horse take him home while he slept in the caleche. (Try THAT with an automobile). My Dad recalls hanging around the stables and livery down the street where the firehorses were boarded.
    On the other side, a great-grandfather was a blacksmith and ferrier.
    Aside from incidental acquaintance back in the 80's when I styled myself a cowboy, no one in my family has had exposure to horses in about a generation or so.
    We used to know how to lead, harness, shoe and doctor horses - but now none of my generation would know where to start.
    The streets of my hometown used to be home to thousands upon thousands of sparrows - braving the fierce winters because the horse droppings were full of grain.

    Whole ecologies and economies and fields of wisdom have vanished.

    •  another fantastic comment... (0+ / 0-)

      It doesn't take long, once you lose your connection and familiarity with horses, to lose that knowledge.  They are large animals, and while generally quite gentle, they are intimidating at the same time by virtue of their size.

      Riding takes practice.  It takes trust, and confidence and familiarity with the horse.  There is a relationship there that has to be established.  It's unlike most other human-animal relationships.  There is much more of a shared experience and mutual trust involved.  I've had many dogs, and it's a different kind of bond.  I can't put it into words.  

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:10:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Many were killed for food (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As supply lines became longer and provisions grew scarce....

    Everyone is crying out for peace; no one's crying out for justice...

    by mojave mike on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:11:47 PM PDT

  •  100 Years later . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, swampyankee

    As a child growing up in a small Vermont town, I was taught an abolitionist hymn to sing at our school's Memorial Day assembly, before we went to the village cemetery to place flowers on the graves of civil war dead. As an adult, I came to understand why. The town's population went from 1500 to 500 between the 1860 and 1870 censuses, and it never recovered.

    Vermont, an abolitionist state when it joined the Union as the 14th state, lost a huge number of horses in the Civil War too. Obviously, this was a real hardship for a state with a farming based economy.

    The reasons are interesting. Because the North had better roads than the confederacy, the Union side had more draft & carriage horses. But Vermont had Morgans, a breed known for being excellent both as saddle and draft horses; so Vermont made a particularly great sacrifice in terms of horses lost.

    This history explains why Vermont was a solidly Republican state, true to the party of Lincoln, for a hundred years, and finally elected a Democratic governor only  in the early 1960s.

    I didn't have time to read other comments, so forgive me if I'm repeating; but people often forget what a great kindness it was for Grant to let the Confederate soldiers take their horses home at the end of the war. Does anyone have info on what kind of flack he (no doubt) got for acting guided by our better angels?

    •  I would say, in retrospect, that it was not great (0+ / 0-)

      kindness that motivated Grant.  Perhaps it was just the realization that for every horse that a Confederate soldier might take home, the Union Army had already confiscated at least two more?  Maybe more?  Who knows.  There weren't many kindnesses extended during that conflict.

      When I was in college at UC Berkeley, they had an incredible campus library system.  I used to read company histories written by various captains from the civil war that they had in the stacks.  Some of it was sort of mundane, but some of it was pretty riveting.

      The Union troops, especially in the first couple years, were pretty green.  There are many accounts of minor skirmishes where almost 4/5's of a company was wiped out due to just inexperience, bad squad leadership and basically being city boys or rural clerks that were up against hicks from the backwoods who knew how to shoot a squirrel or a rabbit, and how to ride a horse, and maybe even a thing or two about bushwacking.

      Many of the Northern soldiers were already citified, or at least a generation away from frontier life, and had a steeper learning curve upon entering military service than many Confederate soldiers who still lived by a rifle and a horse and knowing their way around in the woods.  

      That disparity, I'm fairly sure, also manifested itself in the way the animals were treated and the fates they met.  The North had much greater resources to fight the war with, and the soldiers treated those resources accordingly...they wasted them in very many cases.

      They discarded filled rucksacks as soon as they got tired and their load became heavy, knowing that the quartermaster would provision them again at the next camp.  And I suspect they drove their animals harder and more cruelly, figuring there would be fresh horse sent up from the rear if the ones they had died on them.

      Some of the profligate waste and disregard for the value of the things they carried with them into battle is shocking to read about.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 03:01:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My GGF was a mule skinner in the (0+ / 0-)

    Union Army.  He earned a pension due to his hand being injured by a "fractious mule", reducing his ability to work as a blacksmith to about "half" of that of a normal man.
    His younger brother was a bugler in a Confederate Cavalry
    unit.  Both survived the war.  After the war, one  lived in KY, the other in Texas.  I don't know if they were in touch in any way in their later lives. I have family that are "horsey" and treasure these connections.

    Almost nothing has a name.

    by johanus on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:59:51 PM PDT

  •  My grandfather looked after horses in WWI (0+ / 0-)

    My British* grandfather was sent to the orphanage after his father's death and joined the military at a very young age. He looked after horses in Africa amongst other places.

    He looked after them during the war too but told my mother that the carnage was too much for him and he switched to driving an ambulance. Even that didn't save him from injury and he spent a year after the war in hospital and was permanently disabled.

    *I say British because while he was born in England, his mother was Scottish Presbyterian and his father Irish. After his father's death when he was a preadolescent his Irish relatives offered to help his mother bring up him and his half a dozen siblings, so long as they were brought up Catholic. His mother refused and the 3 oldest boys went into the home while the younger ones stayed with his mother. This was just 100 years ago.

    I can't help but think these are the kinds of tough choices people will be forced to make again if the Repubs get their way.

  •  Traveller (0+ / 0-)

    Lee's horse, was the first person voice of a novel Richard Adams wrote about the Civil war.  (I usually dont like stories that personify animals but this one is quite well done and like many of Adam's stories very moving.)  It does give a picture of a horse's life during war.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 04:07:55 PM PDT

  •  great diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy, Keith930

    I used horses to pack camping gear and ride in Hell's Canyon Wilderness when I worked for the Forest Service. Having no prior experience with horses, they frequently scared the shit out of me, on trails where there was a rock wall on one side, and thousands of feet of nothing on the other. We all survived the summer, somehow.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 04:39:46 PM PDT

  •  Erich Maria Remarque (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and his writing in All Quiet on the Western Front about horses dying in WWI is particularly haunting. The descriptions of the dying horses and how their agony affected the soldiers got to me more than  
    the suffering of the soldiers and has stayed with me since high school.

  •  If no one else has mentioned it, (0+ / 0-)

    this year and next Gettysburg Memorial Park is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. See the national park's website for details.
      For historical reading, I recommend Henry Steele Commager's The Blue and the Gray. For the you are there kind of feeling, the recently -released , slightly- fictionalized novelCain at Gettysburg
       To your point about the role of horses and mules in the Civil War, I think you would like to know that it does not get neglected by tour guides at Gettysburg. Part of one of our tours went by the hotel where Lincoln spent some time polishing what we now know as "The Gettysburg Address." Some time had passed since the battle, yet the air was still filled with the smell of decaying flesh--human and animal. The site of the speech is surrounded by a fairly small wrought iron fence. If you can recall the speech a bit, and then imagine the smells that Lincoln and the crowd had surrounding them, the following words take on, IMO, a biblical power: "with malice toward none, and charity toward all."

  •  We were still using pack horses in Korea (0+ / 0-)

    Take a look at this diary from last January about "Reckless", who was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea in 1953 and performed heroically in the Battle of Outpost Vega.

    Come to think of it... didn't our special forces ride horses into battle during the the first days of the conquest of Afghanistan?

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 10:18:10 PM PDT

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