Yikes!!!!! I tried to correct a mistake and have made things worse!!!!! It is Rienzi and not Rienza I tried to figure out how to delete my latest accidental post of the name Riena and can not do it. From now on I will mind my own bussiness! ...I am very sorry Roanoke
Name came from Rienzi, MS where general Sheridan spent some quality time, at least from his perspective. He was also here in Middle Tennessee at the battle of Stones River. Rienzi in 1865 was the gathering, re-grouping place for the Army of Tennessee, or at least one Corps, after the removal from Tennessee first couple of weeks of January. I need to visit that and surrounding towns as research for my slowly developing 'book'.
Aldebaron - an early mount of Sheridan, and was not the same horse as the gelding named Rienzi. After taking him on his famous ride to Winchester, the name of the animal was changed to that of the town. Winchester (or Rienzi) was so revered that when he died, his stuffed body was presented to the Smithsonian Institution.
No connection to then "Colonel" Sheridan's earlier mount Aldebaron.
Confirmed by The Smithsonian Institute
General Sheridan's charger was foaled at or near Grand Rapids, Michigan, of the Black Hawk stock, and was brought into the Federal army by an officer of the Second Michigan Cavalry. He was presented to Sheridan, then colonel of the regiment, by the officers, in the spring of 1862, while the regiment was stationed at Rienzi, Mississippi; the horse was nearly three years old. He was over seventeen hands in height, powerfully built, with a deep chest, strong shoulders, a broad forehead, a clear eye and of great intelligence. In his prime he was one of the strongest horses Sheridan ever knew, very active, and one of the fastest walkers in the Federal army. "Rienzi" always held his head high, and by the quickness of his movements created the impression that he was exceedingly impetuous, but Sheridan was always able to control him by a firm hand and a few words. He was as cool and quiet under fire as any veteran trooper in the Cavalry Corps.
At the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, the name of the horse was changed from "Rienzi" to "Winchester," a name derived from the town made famous by Sheridan's ride to save his army in the Shenandoah Valley. Poets, sculptors, and painters have made the charger the subject of their works. Thomas Buchanan Read was inspired to write his immortal poem, "Sheridan's Ride," which thrilled the North.
In one of the closing scenes of the war -Five Forks- Sheridan was personally directing a movement against the Confederates who were protected by temporary entrenchments about two feet high. The Federal forces, both cavalry and infantry, were suffering from a sharp fire, which caused them to hesitate. "Where is my battle-flag.?" cried Sheridan. Seizing it by the staff, he dashed ahead, followed by his command. The gallant steed leaped the low works and landed the federal general fairly amid the astonished Southerners. Close behind him came Merritt's cavalrymen in a resistless charge which swept the Confederates backward in confusion. The horse passed a comfortable old age in his master's stable and died in Chicago, in 1878; the lifelike remains are now in the Museum at Governor's Island, N.Y., as a gift from his owner.