Horses, Horses, Horses...the Forgotton Hero of the Civil War!

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ebg12

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I believe a total of one million horses served in the civil war. However, since modern society is no longer a horse culture, the knowledge of the horses in the war is little discussed in detail. I have no knowledge of horses and here are my questions about horses in the civil war:

In what way was the southern breed of horse different than from the northern horse in the cavalry?

Which side had a faster breed of horse in the cavalry?

Was the Northern horses stronger at pulling wagons and artillery, then Southern horses.

What about pack mules, I imagine the south had more?

Speed, agility and strength in Battle: which side had the better horse?
 

Belle Montgomery

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I believe a total of one million horses served in the civil war. However, since modern society is no longer a horse culture, the knowledge of the horses in the war is little discussed in detail. I have no knowledge of horses and here are my questions about horses in the civil war:

In what way was the southern breed of horse different than from the northern horse in the cavalry?

Which side had a faster breed of horse in the cavalry?

Was the Northern horses stronger at pulling wagons and artillery, then Southern horses.

What about pack mules, I imagine the south had more?

Speed, agility and strength in Battle: which side had the better horse?
Amazon Prime: Unsung Hero The Horse in the Civil War
also on You Tube:
Also: The Fighting Breed: Heroic Horses of the Civil War
 

leftyhunter

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I believe a total of one million horses served in the civil war. However, since modern society is no longer a horse culture, the knowledge of the horses in the war is little discussed in detail. I have no knowledge of horses and here are my questions about horses in the civil war:

In what way was the southern breed of horse different than from the northern horse in the cavalry?

Which side had a faster breed of horse in the cavalry?

Was the Northern horses stronger at pulling wagons and artillery, then Southern horses.

What about pack mules, I imagine the south had more?

Speed, agility and strength in Battle: which side had the better horse?
If one side can't adequately supply grain to their horse's none of the above questions matter.
Doubtful if there was any significant differences among horses on either side.
Leftyhunter
 
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zburkett

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At the beginning of the war, the South had superior horses for both riding and draft. Their roads weren't as good, the South had fewer railroad miles and Southerners took great pride in their horses and their horsemanship. As the war progressed the sides started to even out and by the end of the war the North had better horses. During the Overland Campaign it was standard practice for Yankee cavalry to shoot a horse if it broke down so Southerners, civilian or military, could not recover it and nurse it back to health. It is close to the same story on mules. BTW, I think your estimate of one million horses is low.
 

jackt62

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In terms of horse breeding and horsemanship, Kentucky and Virginia were considered the top states. The popular perception is that southern folk were more accustomed to being around horses, in contrast to a northern population that may have been more urbanized and consisted of larger numbers of immigrants who were not raised around horses.
 
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ebg12

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If one side can't adequately supply grain to their horse's none of the above questions matter.
Doubtful if there was any significant differences among horses on either side.
Leftyhunter
I don't agree...I think breed was a big factor to the different task the horses had in the war.

"Its a given that horses need to be feed...and cared for with grooming and shoes!" and doesn't dismiss the question of quality!

With feeding and care satisfied....which side had the better breed of horse in cavalry battle and for specific tasks?
 

Belle Montgomery

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I don't agreed...I think breed was a big factor in to the different task the horses had in the war.

"Its a given that horses need to be feed...and cared for with grooming and shoes!" and doesn't dismiss the question of quality!

With feeding and care satisfied....which side had the better breed of horse in cavalry battle and for specific tasks?
Breed can be task specific, basically size like drafts for pulling artillery, however for soldiers many horses were confiscated from private citizens off farms etc. by both sides down South. It was atrocious to take a pleasure or plow horse of any breed on to a battlefield ...lots of cruelty...but it was done.
 

Belle Montgomery

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I don't agree...I think breed was a big factor to the different task the horses had in the war.

"Its a given that horses need to be feed...and cared for with grooming and shoes!" and doesn't dismiss the question of quality!

With feeding and care satisfied....which side had the better breed of horse in cavalry battle and for specific tasks?
Age and health were the biggest factor
 
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ebg12

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At the beginning of the war, the South had superior horses for both riding and draft. Their roads weren't as good, the South had fewer railroad miles and Southerners took great pride in their horses and their horsemanship. As the war progressed the sides started to even out and by the end of the war the North had better horses. During the Overland Campaign it was standard practice for Yankee cavalry to shoot a horse if it broke down so Southerners, civilian or military, could not recover it and nurse it back to health. It is close to the same story on mules. BTW, I think your estimate of one million horses is low.
Because I don't know:

So the south had the better cavalry horse, and this is why Jeb Stuart was successful for such along period because of the Virginia breed.

And the North had the better draft horses to pull more loads?
 

ebg12

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Breed can be task specific, basically size like drafts for pulling artillery, however for soldiers many horses were confiscated from private citizens off farms etc. by both sides down South. It was atrocious to take a pleasure or plow horse of any breed on to a battlefield ...lots of cruelty...but it was done.
I imagine (because I really don't know) that hoses off northern farms were stronger because they plowed crops like bean and corn in soil that was harder, as opposed to southern horse that plowed cotton fields or soil that was softer...would that be a factor?
 
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John Hartwell

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I believe a total of one million horses served in the civil war. However, since modern society is no longer a horse culture, the knowledge of the horses in the war is little discussed in detail. I have no knowledge of horses and here are my questions about horses in the civil war:

In what way was the southern breed of horse different than from the northern horse in the cavalry?

Which side had a faster breed of horse in the cavalry?

Was the Northern horses stronger at pulling wagons and artillery, then Southern horses.

What about pack mules, I imagine the south had more?

Speed, agility and strength in Battle: which side had the better horse?
We've got a whole lot of information on horses, mules, and all kinds of animals during the Civil War in our Four-footed Friends Forum.
Take a look!
 

leftyhunter

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I don't agree...I think breed was a big factor to the different task the horses had in the war.

"Its a given that horses need to be feed...and cared for with grooming and shoes!" and doesn't dismiss the question of quality!

With feeding and care satisfied....which side had the better breed of horse in cavalry battle and for specific tasks?
I never heard of different breeds of horse's exclusive to being North or South of the Mason Dixon line. The North had so much grain it could export tons of grain to Western Europe. Grain was in short supply in the Confederacy. A working horse isn't going to survive on hay and grass it needs fat and complex carbohydrates.
Highly doubtful in the history of Cavalry warfare one breed of horse say Arabian vs Quarter Horse is all that critical to success vs Cavalry numbers,training,leadership, logistics and weaponry. Union Cavalry armed with lever action rifles might of had an edge over Confederate Cavalry.
If course our resident Cavalry expert @Eric Wittenberg should be consulted or some of the other regular posters on the Cavalry forum.
Leftyhunter
 

Belle Montgomery

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I imagine (because I really don't know) that hoses off northern farms were stronger because they plowed crops like bean and corn in soil that was harder, as opposed to southern horse that plowed cotton fields or soil that was softer...would that be a factor?
Again...it all boils down to age and health of the horse as well. There's also the issue of hot, warm and cold blooded breeds. I have friends who swear by their hot blooded Arabians and thoroughbreds and cold blooded drafts but I myself prefer warm blooded Quarter horses. I've only owned one bad Quarter Horse (he was a beautiful zebra striped dun) as well as a bad Tennessee Walker cross breed that I didn't keep very long. I'm too old to have patience to always be challenged.
There were many "mutt" cross bred horses too. Again, it depends how healthy but equally important is it's temperament. I'm sure the hot blooded obstinate ones were beat into submission or shot. A horse could be as good or as bad as it's handler.
 
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ebg12

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I did not know that the horse suffered so much during the civil war! I'm surprised any were left after the war!
 

zburkett

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At the risk of endorsing lefty again, if you want the grit and pain of what horses went through, read Eric Wittenberg's "Glory Enough For All, The Battle of Trevilian Station." In addition to being a great read on one of the major cavalry battles of the war, Wittenberg doesn't spare the horses.
 
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ebg12

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How did the cavalry man mentally survive losing horse after horse after being day after day attached to his companion for 18 hours or more...and seeing and feeling it suffer? its like losing your best friend time and time again.
 

leftyhunter

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I did not know that the horse suffered such much during the civil war!
T.J. Stiles in his book "Jesse James last Rebel of the Civil War" Vintage Library mentions that over all the Confederate guerrillas in Missouri had an advantage over counterinsurgency forces since they did have better horse's. Not to say Kansas Cavalry such had the 7th Kansas didn't appropriate fine Missouri horse and utilize them when transferred to Mississippi.
Geary Gallhatar in his book about the AnV I think it was something like "Lee's Army"( but I am not at home right now) mentions that late in the war Lee ordered draft horses should get at least 5 lps of grain per day vs Unionists Cavalry horse's per one of our posters were supposed to get 14l lps of grain per day.
Leftyhunter
 
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