Old Sam

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major bill

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If your idea of a warhorse is a prancing stallion, you would be disappointed in Old Sam the warhorse of Coldwater Michigan. Almost everyone in Coldwater Michigan know the horse that pulled the trolley in downtown Coldwater. Back in forth thru town was the only life the horse knew. Townspeople were a bit surprised when the trolley pulling horse was pressed into service with the Coldwater Light Artillery (Loomis’ Battery). The artillery only wanted work horses between three and five years old and the trolley horse was already twelve years old. But the trolley horse was use to hard work in the noisy and confused downtown area, so despite his age, off to war the trolley horse went. The unit called him Old Sam because of his age.

Loomis’ Battery saw hard service. At the Battle of Chickamauga the Loomis’ Battery fought with great courage. The battery refused to abandon the position until ordered to do so. They poured fire into the advancing Confederates until almost totally destroyed. The commander, Lieutenant Van Pelt died at the wheels of the guns. When ordered to withdraw, it was too late and 50 horses were killed or disabled trying to rescue the guns. At the very last minute Sergeant H. E. Burchard got a team hooked up to gun # 1 and this one gun was saved. Sergeant Burchard got the credit for saving the gun and was promoted to Lieutenant for his gallantry, however Old Sam and his team mates did most of the pulling.

Old Sam was wounded several times during the war, but soldiered on despite his injuries. By the end of the war 199 of the 200 horses who left Coldwater for war had died, only the battle scared sixteen year old Old Sam returned to Coldwater.

After the war Old Sam was more of a pet to his fellow Coldwater veterans than a work horse and townspeople often came by to visit the old warhorse.
 

John Hartwell

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I've been trying to find some newspaper notices about Old Sam. All I've so far been able to come up with is a short from the June 20, 1876, Hillsdale Daily News (Mich.):
sam1.png
 
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major bill

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Old Sam's story is told in a local history book from which I took notes from while researching the Loomis' Battery. I would have to try to remember the name of the book. Have you checked out Coldwater newspapers?
 
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mofederal

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It is good to see the old warhorse was so honored. That he survived the war was a pretty good feat in itself. I've heard of the Coldwater Light Artillery, a book about Chickamauga. This is a very good post and interesting, backed up with the old articles. Old Sam lived to be a very old horse. My grandfather was a horse trader, and that was his business all of his life. He began at 14 or so around the early 1900's. He sold horses to the U.S. Army. His father fought with the 58th Ill.
 

WJC

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If your idea of a warhorse is a prancing stallion, you would be disappointed in Old Sam the warhorse of Coldwater Michigan. Almost everyone in Coldwater Michigan know the horse that pulled the trolley in downtown Coldwater. Back in forth thru town was the only life the horse knew. Townspeople were a bit surprised when the trolley pulling horse was pressed into service with the Coldwater Light Artillery (Loomis’ Battery). The artillery only wanted work horses between three and five years old and the trolley horse was already twelve years old. But the trolley horse was use to hard work in the noisy and confused downtown area, so despite his age, off to war the trolley horse went. The unit called him Old Sam because of his age.

Loomis’ Battery saw hard service. At the Battle of Chickamauga the Loomis’ Battery fought with great courage. The battery refused to abandon the position until ordered to do so. They poured fire into the advancing Confederates until almost totally destroyed. The commander, Lieutenant Van Pelt died at the wheels of the guns. When ordered to withdraw, it was too late and 50 horses were killed or disabled trying to rescue the guns. At the very last minute Sergeant H. E. Burchard got a team hooked up to gun # 1 and this one gun was saved. Sergeant Burchard got the credit for saving the gun and was promoted to Lieutenant for his gallantry, however Old Sam and his team mates did most of the pulling.

Old Sam was wounded several times during the war, but soldiered on despite his injuries. By the end of the war 199 of the 200 horses who left Coldwater for war had died, only the battle scared sixteen year old Old Sam returned to Coldwater.

After the war Old Sam was more of a pet to his fellow Coldwater veterans than a work horse and townspeople often came by to visit the old warhorse.
Great story! Thanks for posting!
 
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