Broken down horses

NH Civil War Gal

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Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 5, 2017
Here's another answer for you - my horse is a mix of Morgan and Arabian - Morab but she is also a very easy keeper. During the winter in NH when it can get bitter during January and February, I have her on a quart of mixed oat feed in the morning and the evening so 2 quarts a day plus all the hay she wants because eating is their way of producing heat. Because I have good pastures, once the green grass comes in late May, the grass will have the highest protein count and the sweetest taste through June. I cut her oats back drastically to a cup in the morning and a cup in the evening and start reducing her hay and let her have this wonderful green grass.

By July, the protein count in grass starts to plummet drastically in New England and in late June and early July is when hay making starts.

In the Civil War, the Quartermasters in charge of producing fodder and pasturing horses, etc wouldn't have understood protein counts the way we do today, but they would have surely understood the cycle of great time of year pasture vs. pastures starting to turn, etc.
 

Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
I read an account about Sherman's March where broken down horses were destroyed to prevent them from being used by the Confederates . There was a disturbing story about how they used sledge hammers to kill them instead of shooting them . One mortally injured cavalry horse recovered enough to walk many miles to catch up with the trooper who had ridden it before it died .
Horses were seen as a commodity, something to be used up and when they reached a point where they could no longer continue to do the work demanded of them, they were destroyed or abandoned. It made no sense to continue to waste forage, always in short supply, on an animal that could no longer serve the army's needs. The story you tell is indeed a sad one. Being a horse owner, I could never countenance being in any way brutal to such a noble creature. No doubt the horse you described in this thread looked for the soldier who had ridden and cared for him. That said, The Army was at war and the horses were considered expendable. Another sad example of the misery of war.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
A few horse & mule realities.

An average mule can pull a wagon equal to its own body weight 10 hours per day, approximately 25 miles. In order to remain sound, mules must have regular breaks during the day & entire days off.

An average horse can pull a wagon equal to 1.5 times it own body weight 8 hours day with a 1 hour break at noon, approximately 20 miles. Over a short distance, a horse can pull a wheeled vehicle equal to six times their own body weight.

Both horses & mules loose 15 to 20% of their pulling power when hitched in pairs. In a four horse or two span of mules harness, the wheel animals provide 60% of the pulling power. The two lead animals of a six horse hitch were essentially spares that contributed little pulling power.

One horse power (hp) is defined as a large horse pulling a 150-pound load at at steady rate of 2-1/2 mph. Tests have shown that light horses, bulls, buffalo, mules & camels will provide 1/2 horse power. This is at a steady rate. For short bursts, horses can pull twice their body weight.

I live in horse & mule rich Middle Tennessee. The big red Belgian cross mules that are common these days were not what typical CW mules were like. The much smaller black mules were the standard of that time. Animal Traction, Peace Corps Information Collection & Exchange is a good source for comparisons between draft animals including donkeys & camels. It is a hands on manual for PC Volunteers that can find themselves anywhere in the world, so is very practical.
 
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Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
A few horse & mule realities.

An average mule can pull a wagon equal to its own body weight 10 hours per day, approximately 25 miles. In order to remain sound, mules must have regular breaks during the day & entire days off.

An average horse can pull a wagon equal to 1.5 times it own body weight 8 hours day with a 1 hour break at noon, approximately 20 miles. Over a short distance, a horse can pull a wheeled vehicle equal to six times their own body weight.

Both horses & mules loose 15 to 20% of their pulling power when hitched in pairs. In a four horse or two span of mules harness, the wheel animals provide 60% of the pulling power. The two lead animals of a six horse hitch were essentially spares that contributed little pulling power.

One horse power (hp) is defined as a large horse pulling a 150-pound load at at steady rate of 2-1/2 mph. Tests have shown that light horses, bulls, buffalo, mules & camels will provide 1/2 horse power. This is at a steady rate. For short bursts, horses can pull twice their body weight.

I live in horse & mule rich Middle Tennessee. The big red Belgian cross mules that are common these days were not what typical CW mules were like. The much smaller black mules were the standard of that time. Animal Traction, Peace Corps Information Collection & Exchange is a good source for comparisons between draft animals including donkeys & camels. It is a hands on manual for PC Volunteers that can find themselves anywhere in the world, so is very practical.
Very interesting information, Rhea. Thanks for posting.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Sunday Disease is something that my great uncle told me about. During the seasons of heavy work like plowing, harvest & logging, draught horses would sometimes suffer from Sunday Disease. After working hard for days on end, the horses would have a Sunday off. On Monday morning, horses would be found standing like statues, paralyzed in their stalls or paddocks. The only way to relieve the condition was a massage. The lack of activity leading to restricted blood flow made the horse's muscles cramp. Sunday disease was a real thing that Civil War armies had to contend with.
 
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