Horses in History
While we’re all settling into July after a patriotic weekend, we thought it would be nice to share a little bit about some of the horses that have helped shape America’s history.
Sgt. Reckless is perhaps the most famous American war horse. She was a Mongolian mixed-breed mare, sold to the United States Marine Corps in Korea for $250. Reckless served faithfully alongside her fellow Marines in battle, learning her supply route quickly and frequently traveling with no handler. She helped wounded soldiers evacuate battlefields, and in March of 1953 at the Battle for Outpost Vegas, she made 51 trips, alone, to resupply front line units. Following the war, she was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds received while in battle. She was given rank of Corporal and a promotion to Sergeant after the war. Life Magazine recognized Reckless as one of America’s top 100 heroes, and her brave deeds earned her fame throughout the country. A statue in her honor stands at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, in Quantico, Virginia.
Cincinnati, a son of the famous thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, was General Ulysses S.Grant’s most well-known horse during the American Civil War. Grant was a talented horseman, and had proven his skills from the time he was at West Point. He acquired Cincinnati as a gift from a friend, and though the horse was very large, he was well suited to battle and became one of Grant’s favorite horses. Cincinnati was the horse chosen by Grant to ride to Appomattox Court House to meet with Robert E. Lee and negoitate his surrender. Nearly every painting and statue of Ulysses S. Grant include Cincinnati, and his memorial at the base of Capitol Hill shows the famous general astride his famous Thoroughbred mount.
Old Nelson was one of many horses owned by George Washington. He was a flashy chestnut with a white blaze and socks. While Washington had many horses in Revolutionary War battles — and is more often depicted with his gray horse, Blueskin — he favored Nelson because the horse was not spooked by gunfire. Nelson was the horse chosen for the battles at Valley Forge and Trenton, both key victories in the Revolutionary War. Both Blueskin and Nelson were retired after the war, and lived out their lives at Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon. Nelson lived to be 27, which is quite impressive considering the era!
All of these war horses bravely went forward into gunfire and cannon blasts, and they stand to represent the other equine members of the United States Military that so bravely followed their riders’ orders into battle. They’ve left behind legacies that the United States chooses to memorialize in statues, stories, paintings and photographs. So, while we reflect on the sacrifices made by military heroes for our freedom and independence, let’s take a moment and remember their horses, too.