Civil War Fangirl

The thoughts of a (slighty eccentric & crazy) Canadian who happens to be obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, General William Tecumseh Sherman & the Civil War

Archive for the category “Horses”

The Horses of General Lee’s “Old War Horse” (and some digressions…)


“God Be With You” beautifully painted by Mort Kunstler. Honestly, Lee looks like he’s about to give Longstreet shit for something.  Or they’re having some kind of stare down.

General Lee’s “Old War Horse” refers to General James Longstreet. He was also known as “Old Pete”. It was today, January 8th, in 1821 that General James “Pete” Longstreet was born in South Carolina. His parents were James and Mary Ann Dent Longstreet. His family, on both sides, dates back to the colonial period of America.

Digression time (y’all know by now I do this kind of thing…): Who picked up on the maiden name of Longstreet’s mother? Dent. I’m sure it’s ringing a bell and you’re thinking “Where have I heard that name before?”. It’s Civil War connection time! Dent is the maiden name of General Grant’s wife, Julia. That’s right – James Longstreet and Union Rock Star General Ulysses S. Grant are related through marriage. James served as Best Man at Ulysses and Julia’s wedding. How’s that for a digression?

General Grant and General Longstreet. Related through marriage, fought against each other during the Civil War, most notably at the Wilderness where Longstreet ended up being wounded. I was just reading in Jeff Shaara’s “The Last Full Measure” about their connection. It was from Longstreet’s perspective. He refers to Grant as being a friend. I can’t imagine what it would have been fighting against someone who I considered a friend, let along was related to me and had stood up at my marriage. Such was the case too many times during the Civil War. 

Okay, enough for that digression.  Since it is Longstreet’s birthday today, I did want to have a post written to do with him so I decided to write about his horses. Again, are y’all surprised by that? Probably not, given the fact I’ve written a few posts where the General’s horses are mentioned, most notable Baldy and Little Sorrel.

So, I start my journey researching. Here I am thinking “this is going to be like researching Baldy and Little Sorrel. Longstreet was a famous General. There will be stories about his horses! I’ve got this!”

Sometimes, the best laid plans that you think will chug along just fine don’t because you discover the research equivalent to finding that Sherman’s Army has ripped up the railway tracks you were travelling on…


I got derailed, y’all…

Unfortunately, there is not nearly as much information about Longstreet’s horses as there is for Traveller (General Lee), Cincinnati (General Grant), Rienzi (General Sheridan), Baldy (General Meade) and Little Sorrel (General “Stonewall” Jackson). But hey, that happens when you’re doing historical research. Sometimes the sources are just not readily available OR they just didn’t write about them. I’m sure his horses were just as cool the other ones out there – there just wasn’t much written about them.

But I still managed to find some snippets of info…

We know General Longstreet had two horses: Hero and Fly-By-Night. Hero, according to Longstreet in his memoirs “From Manasses to Appomattox”, was given this name by Longstreet’s Irish groom. Longstreet also remarks  in his memoirs that this was indeed his favourite horse. Back to Hero in a second.

As for Fly-By-Night, all I could find out about him was that he given to General Longstreet by General Lee sometime in 1864 while Longstreet was in Georgia or Tennessee (sources differ) for Old  Pete’s services in the West.

Back to Hero.

We can presume that General Longstreet would have ridden Hero at many notable Civil War battles. Wert remarks in his biography “General James Longstreet: The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier” that in the morning hours of December 13th, Longstreet was astride Hero at Fredericksburg.  I found a beautiful Mort Kunstler painting illustrating just that…


“War Is So Terrible” by Mort Kunstler. This painting depicts General Longstreet and General Lee on the morning of December 13, 1862 amid the melting snow at Fredericksburg. It was at this battle that Lee said to Longstreet “It is well that war is so terrible – we should grow too fond of it”.

He also rode Hero throughout the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1st-3rd, 1863.  Below, the two paintings by Mort Kunstler depict him on a horse that we can presume is Hero.


“Lee’s Old Warhorse” by  Mort Kunstler. This painting depicts the morning of July 3, 1863, the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.


“Storm Over Gettysburg” by Mort Kunstler. General Lee is riding his horse Traveller and General Longstreet is on his horse Hero. This painting depicts the night of July 3rd, 1863.

If Mort Kunstler’s paintings are correct, we know that Hero was a chestnut coloured horse with a white mark on his face (sounds quite similar to Meade’s horse, Baldy). Considering Longstreet would have ridden him into battle, Hero would have had to have been a strong and powerful horse,too, much like any of the other Civil War horses. In this discussion on Civil War Talk, I did find reference that Hero was an Irish Thoroughbred. Hero most likely looked very much like one of these beautiful horses:

I can imagine what a commanding presence Longstreet would have had on the battlefield as he was astride Hero.

Despite the way he was treated after the Civil War, Longstreet has not been forgotten. Nor has Hero. The two have a statue together at Gettysburg and it is one of my favourite ones in the park. I remember the first time I saw it, I was amazed with the level of the detail. This was one of my favourite photos that I took on the day I spent at Gettysburg in May of 2012.


Monument to Confederate General James Longstreet at Gettysburg. Longstreet has very few monuments, as a result of the negative opinion of him by many southerners after the Civil War. This monument was installed at Gettysburg in 1998 and was sculpted by Gary Casteel. Compared to many of the other monuments in the park, Longstreet’s is relatively young.

In researching this post, I discovered that there were mixed feelings about this monument. There are a few people who simply don’t like it. Me? I love it. It’s one of my favourites in the park, mainly because it is an equestrian statue. Sure, I don’t love it as much as I love the equestrian monument to John Reynolds but  Longstreet’s is still a favourite. In discovering the mixed feelings as well as how different this monument is from others, I’ve decided to write a separate post about the monument itself at some point soon.

Just briefly: this monument, unlike many of the other equestrian monuments in Gettysburg (and elsewhere at Civil War battlefields) is not on a pedestal. Longstreet and Hero are at ground level. It allows one to see the great level of detail that encompasses the entire statue. Of course I was most drawn to Hero. That’s what attracted me to the statue in the first place.

Despite Hero & Fly-By-Night not having the same level of fame as Traveller or Rienzi, I still felt they were worthy of a post. Horses played a huge role in the Civil War, and I feel they deserve to be remembered too.

Living up to his name, Fly-By-Night is clearly the more mysterious of two horses, with next to nothing for information about him (or her?). For us to know this horse’s name must mean he (or she), meant something to Longstreet.

As for Hero, he’ll go down in history as Old Pete’s favourite horse, having been mentioned in his memoirs. He’s also been somewhat immortalized in the paintings by Mort Kunstler as well as in the  monument at Gettysburg.

Do y’all know any stories about the lesser known horses of the Civil War? Also, if you’ve seen the Longstreet monument at Gettysburg, please let me know what you thought of it!

Thanks, as always, for reading. Y’all are awesome.


P.S. If you want to see more of Mort Kunstler’s beautiful painting, check out his website here.



Casteel, Gary. “It’s About Time: The Sculpting of the James Longstreet Memorial”.

Longstreet, James. “From Manassas To Appomattox”

Statue/Monument to General Longstreet.

Wert, Jeffry D. “General James Longstreet: The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier”. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1993.


Favourite Books of 2016: “Soul Of A Crow” by Abbie Williams

I think I’ve mentioned on here that I am a slow reader. I also tend to have five or six books on the go at once (…because ADD. Oh, and I like variety). 2016 was not the year of reading MANY books for me. Honestly, it’s about quality and NOT quantity for me when it comes to books.

I was going to do one gigantic post about my top five books but I thought, why not do individual posts? It seems like a good way to count down to 2017. So, over the next few days, I’ll be posting about my favourite books of 2016.

So, shall we get started? Oh, and they’re all going to be Civil War related books. Would y’all expect anything less from the Civil War fangirl? I think not.

So, here go…

“Soul Of A Crow” by Abbie Williams


This book cover is gorgeous. One of my favourites.

This is the review I wrote for this book on Good Reads. I’ve added in a few things here and there to the original review.
The story is absolutely beautiful – yes, there are heart breaking moments but at the core of it all is love. I was pulled all the way through by Abbie’s beautiful style of writing. The characters are absolutely unforgettable.

These are two of the main reasons why I love the Dove series by Abbie Williams so very much. Picking up where “Heart of a Dove” (Book 1 of the series) leaves off, “Soul Of A Crow” will draw you in immediately into the world of Lorie Blake and her travelling companions – brothers Boyd & Malcolm Carter, and Sawyer Davis. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention Sawyer’s beautiful horse, Whistler. They are making their way their to begin a new life in Minnesota after the Civil War. But along the way the past will come back to haunt them and they will face new challenges.

I’d all but given up on romance when I decided to give “Heart Of A Dove”a try – I wrote about it here and here . I was pulled in right from the start. Just like the first book, “Soul Of A Crow” the romance that is real – there is anguish, torment, heartbreaking decisions but of course, above all else, there is love. The bonds of love formed between the characters are incredible and this is another reason I love this series so much.

Abbie is a beautiful writer. She writes in such a way that I become immersed in the world she has created. I can hear the mosquitoes as the Lorie, Sawyer, Malcolm and Boyd sit by a fire, I can see the fireflies, feel the prairie grass beneath my feet. I can hear the horses and picture everything so clearly in my mind. I also feel what the characters feel – I laugh when they laugh, cry when they cry and feel the torment they go through when heart breaking decisions are made. I feel the happiness they feel of being with the ones they love.

The characters have become so familiar to me. I feel I have come to know them so well. When I wasn’t reading the book, I found myself thinking about them. I adore Lorie. She’s a beautiful, strong female character that has become one of my literary heroines. Malcolm is like a younger brother – so sweet and adorable yet mischievous and always knows how to make people laugh. Sawyer is such a beautiful soul. Oh, and then there is Boyd (with what I imagine is a sexy Tennessee accent and eyes that I could get lost in). I’ll admit I am crushing on him hard. There are also new characters introduced in this book and they are just as likeable as the characters I have mentioned.

Just like the “Heart Of A Dove”, the romance is real and not sappy. This is how romance should be. The deep love between the characters is incredible. And I love when romance starts to blossom between characters because Abbie knows how to write this so very well – the anticipation and buildup is so gripping and real. I also relate to the friendships that develop between the characters.

As a Civil War buff, I also enjoyed the story. Abbie captures the feelings of post-war America – the wounds that are still there and the conflict and prejudices the arise. There is also the personal struggle of the characters that fought in the war and it’s heart wrenching to hear some of their thoughts. But this is yet another thing that makes the story so very real and one of the best I have read in a long time.

I laughed, cried and have grown to love this series and the characters Abbie has created so very much. She writes with so much heart and soul it’s impossible not to get drawn into the world she has created. If you’ve read “Heart Of A Dove” and enjoyed it, “Soul Of A Crow” will not disappoint you. If you haven’t read the series yet, be sure to start with “Heart Of Dove”. If you love historical fiction, you will not be disappointed. Even after finishing the book, the characters are popping into my mind. I am left eagerly awaiting to read Book 3, which is titled “Grace Of  A Hawk”. It is due out in November 2017 (ahhh!! That seems so far away!!)

You can follow Abbie on Twitter or check her website. Besides being a talented writer, she’s a wonderful and sweet person.

Okay, y’all that’s all for now! Until next time (which will be tomorrow when I post about another book), hope y’all are doing awesome!



A “remarkable little horse” named Little Sorrel

In early May 1861 at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson seized 6 train cars, one of which was carrying horses. From these horses, Jackson ended up purchasing two – a large one for himself, which he called “Big Sorrel” (apparently, he was a beautiful, black Stallion) and a smaller one he named “Fancy” (who was not fancy but rather kind of shaggy and unruly looking), which he intended for his wife, Anna. Jackson soon found “Big Sorrel” was a bit of a spaz. Spazzy horses and battles do not mix well and clearly, Jackson knew this. He needed a horse that would have some level of “zen” amid the noises of guns, artillery, shouting and other general chaos that accompany battles.

He decided to try “Fancy”, the horse he had intended for Anna. Upon riding him, Jackson remarked “a seat on him was like being rocked in a cradle” and that he “showed a smooth pace and even temper” (quite the opposite of Spazzy) . Jackson also changed the horse’s name to Little Sorrel. Thus began another famous horse and rider duo from the Civil War – that of General Stonewall Jackson and his Morgan horse, Little Sorrel (Anna ended up with Spazzy McSpaz a.k.a. Big Sorrel). Meanwhile, the brown coloured Little Sorrel would be Jackson’s primary horse/animal BFF from 1861  until Jackson was wounded at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. He would subsequently die of pneumonia on May 10, 1863.


“There Stands Jackson Like A Stonewall”. Painting by Mort Kunstler.

A bit of backstory on Little Sorrel (cause after doing some digging and falling down rabbit holes, I managed to find a few tidbits for y’all…)

Little Sorrel was a small Morgan horse, about 15 hands high, or 5 feet at his shoulders and was about 11 years old when Jackson took him under his wing. He is said to have been born around 1850 on the farm of Noah C. Collins in Somers, Connecticut and is believed to be a descendent of the original Morgan horse, born in 1789 to Springfield, Connecticut. These horses are known for their short legs and stocky bodies which Little Sorrel possessed and which makes the Morgan an ideal battle horse (remember, spazzy horses are bad. Zen horses are where it’s at). The Morgan horses are also known for their endurance, quickness and agility. Also, like many of the Civil War horses and their BFF General’s, Little Sorrel became almost an extension of Stonewall’s personality, and was often seemingly as calm as his General was during battles (no word on if Little Sorrel enjoyed to eat lemons like Stonewall did). During breaks in battle, Little Sorrel was known to lie down and sleep.  Kyd Douglas, a member of Jackson’s staff had this to say about Little Sorrel:

“…[he was] a remarkable little horse. Such endurance I have never seen in horse flesh. We had no horse at Headquarters that could match him. I never saw him show a sign of fatigue.”

Douglas was being quite serious – on long marches, Sorrel could cover 40 miles in one day. Jackson was so comfortable on him, that he would often sleep during part of these marches.

The Jackson/Sorrel duo  would make the soldiers rally and would boost morale (this is much the same as it was for General Sheridan and Rienzi on the Union side. More on that partnership in another blog post). The ironic thing was, however, that Jackson didn’t like the cheering and was actually somewhat embarrassed by it. Little Sorrel seemed to grow to learn this and “whenever Confederates raised loud and friendly noise, the horse would break into a gallop and carry [Jackson] speedily along”. 


“Horse and Man” by Mort Kunstler. I believe this painting truly captures the bond between Jackson and Sorrel, a bond that happened with many horses from the Civil War and their Generals. 

Little Sorrel and General Jackson were in many battles together – First Manasses (I did find one source that stated Jackson actually borrowed a horse for this battle. More sources said he had Little Sorrel at the battle) & Second Manassas (or Bull Run), Kernstown, McDowell, Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic, Cedar Mountain, Harper’s Ferry, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Seven Days Campaign, and finally, Chancellorsville in early May 1863. This battle would prove to be the last battle both General Jackson and Little Sorrel were in.

General Jackson was wounded by friendly fire at Chancellorsville on May 2nd, 1863. He ended up having his left arm amputated but he succumbed to pneumonia on May 10th. When Jackson had been shot, this is said to have the one and only time that Little Sorrel bolted. He is said to have remained on the battlefield after Jackson was taken away for medical attention. In all the chaos, no one was much paying attention to the gingerbread coloured horse who was wandering around. One account I read states that he was eventually found by two artillery soldiers who had no idea who the horses belonged to. One of them took it upon himself to start riding him. Eventually, Little Sorrel was recognized. He is said to have been given to General J.E.B. Stuart who gave Little Sorrel to Jackson’s widow, Anna.


Confederate General JEB Stuart with his “impeccable” hat (y’all will get that joke if y’all have seen “Gods & Generals”). Skylark and Highfly were two of his horses.

Little Sorrel lived with Anna for a time. The horse became known as a “rascal” and he most certainly had a mind of his own. He the had ability to undo latches, untie ropes and even remove rails from fences so he could jump into another pasture. He was also known to let other horses out to tag along with him.

Eventually, Little Sorrel was moved to Stonewall’s old stomping grounds at the Virginia Military Institute or VMI. Here, he didn’t need to worry about latches, ropes or fences as he was free to graze on the lush, green parade grounds. I’m sure this was absolute heaven for him. It is clear, however, the Little Sorrel never forgot his friend Stonewall or the Civil War. This was always quite clear during artillery practice at VMI. Little Sorrel’s ears would stand up and his nostrils would flare at the sound of cannons. He would canter around as if looking for General Jackson. To me, this shows the bond that Jackson and Sorrel had with each other and clearly, Little Sorrel never forgot him.

Little Sorrel had gained as nearly as much fame as his General after the Civil War. As such, the horse made appearances at many fairs and veterans reunions. VMI cadets always accompanied him to make sure people did not pluck hair from his mane and tail for souvenirs (why do people have to be weird like that?).

Little Sorrel after the Civil War

In the later stages of his life, Little Sorrel lived at the Confederate Soldier’s Home in Richmond (also called Robert E. Lee Camp). Here, he was seen as a pet and absolutely adored by the veterans. Little Sorrel eventually developed arthritis. It reached a point where the elderly horse could no longer stand. Curious onlookers often came to see Jackson’s famous horse and so the veterans at the home made a sling and hoist to help Little Sorrel stand up. Unfortunately, one day there was an accident and the sling broke causing Little Sorrel to fall. In the fall, the horse broke his back which proved to be mortal.

Little Sorrel’s final hours were not spent alone, however. He was cared for by the veterans and one in particular, stayed by his side:

“An old Confederate veteran, Tom O’Connell, stood by during the day and at night slept beside his charge [Little Sorrel] until he went over the green fields of some animal heaven to rest in peace and honor”.

Or perhaps he found Jackson on the other side of the river.


This beautiful painting by Mort Kunstler is titled “Cross Over The River, General Stonewall Jackson”.

After his death, Little Sorrel’s body was given to taxidermist Frederic Weber and mounted over plastic. Weber kept Little Sorrel’s bones (umm…gross) as part of payment but he later donated them to The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One can imagine this angered many southerners. I will come back to this in a few sentences. As Aaron Burr says in Hamilton…”wait for it…” (psst, Jen…there’s a Hamilton reference for you). You can view Little Sorrel today at VMI


There’s something slightly creepy but cool about this…

Little Sorrel’s legacy continues to live on to this day. He is nearly as famous as General Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveller.In 1990, a street was named after him in his birthplace of Somers, Connecticut. There are also a few statues showing General Jackson and Little Sorrel.


Oh, hey, remember the thing about the bones?

Here’s the story…

In 1997, the bones of Little Sorrel were returned to the VMI. On July 20 of that year, they were buried at the foot of a statue of General Jackson. Dirt from every battlefield where Jackson and Little Sorrel had been together was placed in the grave. The site was also flanked (Haha. That was Sherman’s signature move…) by wreaths of apples and carrots plus several horseshoes.I’m sure had he been there Little Sorrel would have made short order of those wreaths.

That’s the story of Little Sorrel, the horse of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Thanks, y’all, for reading. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed researching it.

Until next time…


P.S. I’ve used a few Mort Kunstler paintings in this post. To view more of his beautiful artwork, please visit here .



Gwynne, S.C. “Rebel Yell”. Simon & Schuster: New York, 2014.

“Jackson’s Most Trusted Sidekick”

“Little Sorrel Buried at VMI July 20, 1997”

“Little Sorrel, Connecticut’s Confederate War Horse”

“Stonewall Jackson FAQ”

“Stonewall Jackson’s Horse, Little Sorrel”

“Stonewall Jackson’s Stuffed Horse”

“Traveller and Little Sorrel – The War Horses of Lee and Jackson”

Early Mornings…

Morning, y’all!
Here’s how a Civil War fangirl spends her morning when she has a silly head cold.

A good cup of tea, Donald’s bio on Lincoln (White’s bio is also there too) and a cool bookmark from Iceland.

I couldn’t sleep so rather than tossing and turning, I decided to be productive and make some headway in Donald’s bio of Lincoln (which, I confess, I have taken far too long in reading. I’m a slow reader AND I usually have five books on the go).

I graffiti the hell out of my books and sticky notes have become my friend again. I need to write notes and highlight or else I have a tough time retaining information.
So, this morning I’ve been reading about my fav guy Lincoln winning the election, and now I’m onto his cabinet selection. It’s amazing how much reasoning and calculation went into selection of his cabinet. He was striving for balance, as he said to Thurlow Weed, whom felt Lincoln had given favour to the democrats: “You seem to forget that I expect to be there; and counting me as one, you see how nicely the cabinet would be balanced and ballasted”. Again, he knew exactly what he was doing!

Of course when I’m reading too, tons of blog post ideas flood my mind! I do go through lulls where I don’t get many ideas, but lately I’ve had quite a few. So, expect posts about:

  • Little Sorrel – General Jackson’s horse. I did a poll on Twitter and over on my Facebook page for this blog. Little Sorrel was the popular one.
  • Rienzi – Philip Sheridan’s horse. You might also know him as Winchester.
  • A post or post(s) (haven’t decided yet) about the relationship between Sherman and Lincoln. I’ve been reading a bio about Sherman and am just passed the part about First Bull Run. There’s a quite a story about his interaction with Lincoln here and that’s where I came up with the idea.
  • Posts about some of Lincoln’s cabinet members – Gideon Welles definitely comes to mind for this. He’s one of my favorites and his diary is an amazing primary source for anything to do with Lincoln’s cabinet and the Civil War.

Those are just a few of the ideas floating around in my mind right now. Do you have any suggestions for posts I could do? Just let me know in the comments below, on Twitter or on my Facebook page. I’m always open to suggestions!

Hope y’all are doing well. As always, thanks for reading.

Happy Saturday!


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