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In military histories, the contributions of the horses are often overlooked, although these mounts carried their commanders into battle with the same bravery as the humans around them. By Michael Aubrecht
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THROUGHOUT the course of military history,
Another loyal servant to the high command, whose contributions are overlooked, is the horse. Completely unaware of the politics, protocol and hypocrisy of war, this animal is more than just a mount. It is a faithful friend and follower who carries its commander into battle with the same bravery and patriotism as the humans around it.
Many of the generals whom we study today enjoyed the companionship of one of these steeds. And in many cases, the horse's name has become almost as famous as its owner's. This was especially true during the Civil War. In the Confederate army, Robert E. Lee's horse Traveller quickly became a Southern icon. In the Union army, it was Philip Sheridan's mount Winchester who captured the hearts and minds of the North.
Another horse that ultimately became as beloved as its rider was Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's mount, Little Sorrel. No other horse, it seems, has been honored with such grace and dignity as this undersized steed. Like his commander, the story of Little Sorrel is one of both triumph and tragedy.
In 1861, Col. Thomas J. Jackson was deployed to the most northern point of the Confederate states, at Harper's Ferry. His orders were to take command of troops from the Valley District who were stationed there and secure the U.S. armory and arsenal. During this time, Jackson focused on training his army, as well as the logistics required to supply and maintain it. Acquiring the horses essential for mobilization required his immediate attention.