A 1505 depiction of a cavalry charger and ' trooper ', ready to go. Bareback, bridle barely a halter, weaponry a pike. The Battle of Achnashellach was a Scottish clan battle, roughly 1505, if a frame of reference is needed. Da Vinci did famous studies on the fighting- with war horses.
While far too lengthy a topic for one thread, was once smitten by the a hugely ironic moment during the war. Confederate cavalry, having ridden hard in past weeks, summer of 1863, as always with an eye out for fresh mounts had recourse to our massive, wonderful draft beasties here in Pennsylvania. What a mismatch. Poor everyone. Troopers found them easily blown, not agile and disinclined to be urgent. The draft horses, bewildered at a sudden change in circumstances, said ' Er, no, thank you, we do not feel like charging anyone. May we please have food? "
From Hathi again, an 1860's war horse
The irony was, not too far back in war's evolution these massive, unique animals were the war horses. Try hoisting a gazillion pounds of armored knight onto a Morgan or Irish Thoroughbred.
Can you imagine?
The war horse history goes through several centuries of evolution as armies do. As travel grew greater and swifter, first the drafts were improved, to keep up. War horses had to do double duty too- on farms attached to manors. Who could afford to keep a horse only used for war?
Here's that flaming ninnie Cromwell- saving grace seems to have been an eye for a horse. Cleveland Bays are awesome- and if ever a terrific idea of half-n-half, best of both worlds ( or half way to the ideal, American Civil War charger ), it's the Cleveland Bay. " Dragooners " are elite cavalry.
Percherons were hugely bred and prized- and ridden until the finer horses took over, as armies became refined.
Very, very famous horse, ' Draco ' The Brits knew horse blood lines like New England matrons knew ancient genealogy. It's fuzzy but trotters become entangled in the process of breeding the perfect horse. A trotter did not have to just be a trotter- you could go race him, put a saddle on him and go home. Or to war.
Ancient draft lines date back dozens of generations. Cavalry units were extremely elite. The best. most coveted ' blooded ' horses were cavalry mounts. Bar none. War horses here, especially by the time of the Civil War were various by necessity. Goodness. How many, many stories do we have where a town presents an officer with a wonderful animal? How many other stories are there of civilians begging armies to give them their old, blind horse back?
Also from Hathi Trust, a separate listing, brokers scraped together herds- note no restrictions except ' suitable '.
Still, a few breeds became noteworthy as a result of the war. As far removed from the war horse carrying soldiers to Bosworth Field as a Great Dane, a Pug the followed how war was waged. Custer's Wolverines could not have out blustered Stuart's force on great, lumbering beast; neither could little, swift Morgans and nameless cobs have charged through marsh, uphill into crashing steel and pikes. They evolved through necessity.
Long marches, like this by Grierson from Tennessee to Baton Rouge could only be achieved by the war horses of the day.
Morgans are another thread but interestingly, in all the mystery of Justin Morgan's horse there's thought to be some draft in this little trooper of our American Civil War. How apt, war horse to war horse in countless generations?
Col. Sharpe, of the Secret Service, had these two war horses. I think (?) Gimlet may be on the right? Now there's a war horse.