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Horse Color?

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  • Horse Color?

    I know that solid color horses were preferred by the army. Does anyone have evidence of pintos or appaloosas used by the cavalry on the federal side? Are there regulations about horse types or breeds that were preferred? I know that Bracketts Battalion in MN was mounted on "Canadian Ponies", but I have not seen any specific regulations to what the army was looking for as far as horses during the war? I tried the search function and didn't find anything.

    Thanks for the help,
    Andy Timmer
    Hairy Nation Boys
    Yellow Dog Gentleman's Club

  • #2
    Re: Horse Color?


    Pinto and Appaloosa horses were almost unknown east of the frontier at the time of the war. Spotted horses have not to my knowledge shown up in any period photos. I once read a children’s story from the period that involved a spotted circus horse, but it was clear that horse was a novelty. I’m not sure when Appaloosas became a recognized breed, but it was well after the war.

    The war department had qualities they were looking for, but I don’t have that info directly on hand. They generally wanted compact “easy keepers” rather than large blooded horses. The Canadian is a great example, small, hardy, intelligent and tough. Several regiments were mounted at the start on these horses. By the end of the war anything that had four legs and a tail became acceptable due to the demand for animals.

    Take care,
    Tom Craig
    1st Maine Cavalry
    Tom Craig


    • #3
      Re: Horse Color?

      There are photographs of thousands of horses taken during the Civil War, and the images speak for themselves. Spotted horses simply aren't there. Even in photos of the Giesboro Point depot showing hundreds if not thousands of horses at a time, all solid colors.

      -Craig Schneider
      Attached Files
      Craig Schneider


      • #4
        Re: Horse Color?

        There have been similar discussion on the AC in the past about both these questions. Meaning color/paints and types of horses. I am not sure what the best search word would be, but I know this has come up in the past and lead to several spirited discussions. I believe there is one period photo out there that has a maybe a Fed officer on a pinto. I keeps resurfacing here and on Facebook I think more as a way to get people "excited" about the topic. But as mentioned, it is one our of maybe thousands of other pictures that all show solid colors.

        As Tom mentioned, it was more about the qualities of the horse more so then the breed. The breeds where much more general at the time and not as specific as we have today. A "blooded" horse vs a "grade" horse are typical terms, but don't go much to the specific breed. At least that is my understanding.
        Rob Bruno
        1st MD Cav


        • #6
          Re: Horse Color?

          Please allow me to add a bit to this discussion...while not specifically about colors it does answer others questions in a roundabout way. This is an excerpt from my book, AMERICAN RIDING AND WORK SADDLES, 1790-1920. It is just one excerpt and thus a brief overview and not meant to encapsulate the entire story of the horse in the pre war era. I omitted footnotes here (evidenced by the numbers at the end of some sentences and paragraphs) but please know the assertions are documented. I hope this helps the understanding of America's horses subsequently employed in the great conflict. Ken R Knopp

          While 19th century saddles were quickly changing, the development of the American horse was having an interesting evolution of its own. In the first half of the 19th century with the notable exception of the Thoroughbred, there were no established breeds or associations in America as we know them today. Even by the Civil War the American Thoroughbred had the only recorded breed documentation largely the courtesy of the British. All other American horses were in fact, “Grade” with varying degrees of other classes yet most having some of the “blooded” Thoroughbred or Arab running through their veins. Although common horses of the period had origins in early breeds that were often loosely categorized with so-called “breed” names such as English, American, Morgan, Arab, Kentucky Saddle horses, Normans, Canadians, Cleveland Bay and Spanish. However, the fact is that horseman of the period sought to breed or procure size, confirmation and mind-set in their animals. This was done for practical, everyday riding or work applications. For the 19th century American horseman, the goal was function rather than form or color as is found in the classical sense of today’s bloodlines. In general, American riding horses at the time fell under such identities as hunter, plantation, pacer (interchangeable with pulling horses) and charger. While vehicle (gig, carriage, buggy, etc.) pulling animals were called roadsters, trotters, pacers and hacks. Heavy animals for pulling farm machinery or freight wagons were draft or draught horses.82 To these functional names horses were quite often given regional or cavalierly assumed titles such as Morgan, Virginia Roadster, Kentucky Saddler, Texas Pony, Mississippi Pacer, American Trotter, etc. While modern identities were to later emerge from some of these titles, at that time these monikers were more vague types, regional distinctions or loosely bantered about for sales exploitation rather than as a true bloodline breed. 83

          In addition to all of this, the physical characteristics of America’s horses were often regionally common in the 19th century too. For example, above the Mason Dixon line prior to the Civil War, most draft animals were generally Canadians or Normans. In New England, where the ox still prevailed as the primary draft animal, riding horses were few but driving horses were of medium sized and compactly formed. In New York state light driving horses were of more variety, taller, less compact, many of them considered “very fine” as compared to those in New England. Thoroughbred runners (as race horses) were popular too. The farms of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania were like those of New York- stocked with excellent roadsters. On westward in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois one would see a considerable change. Fine driving horses were less common while farm and draft animals often quite large. In Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Tennessee and the southern portions of Indiana and Illinois fine saddle horses were dominant along with carefully bred trotters and exquisite runners some traceable to New York and even England. In the Deep South, the trotter was not popular at all. As in Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee, the mule was the draft animal of choice on both farm and road and the English thoroughbred (or derivatives) was the planter’s mount for the racecourse, hunt and travel. Southwest in Louisiana and Texas one would increasing see smaller, wiry Spanish (Mustang) horses bred exclusively for the saddle. Further west, these Spanish horses or Indian ponies prevailed. There were other commonalities, but it was not until after the Civil War when organized breed associations, sporting events and other effects initiated the early development of modern American bloodlines and then subsequently, the breeds we know today.84


          • #7
            Re: Horse Color?

            Thank you Ken, quite informative, as always.

            Great photo Craig, and a new one to me, thanks for sharing.

            Cheerfully stolen from the internet:

            Scene: brother and sister, at the stables, watching a large group of horses in a corral

            Sister: Which is your favorite?
            Me: (pointing to one in a cluster) That one.
            Sister: The Palomino?
            Me: Uh… that one.
            Sister: Oh, the Buckskin.
            Me: Er …
            Sister: The Chestnut?
            Me: Huh?
            Sister: The Pinto?
            Me: Those are beans!
            Sister: You mean the Roan?
            Me: (frustrated) What the hell color is that?
            Sister: I'm going to tell mom you used that word!
            Me: THAT ONE!!
            Sister: That's called a Bay.
            Me: Now I KNOW you are making this all up. Anything called a Bay would surely be blue, like water.
            Sister: You are so stupid.
            Me: I'm gonna tell mom you called me names!

            From my many years as an unhorseman, compelled to fetch, groom, saddle and harness indistinguishable equines in the dark, the rain or blazing sunshine, I penned this frivolity, which nonetheless rings true, on a miniature figure modelling forum:

            ALL horses are BROWN.

            Some are more brown than most, some are less, but still brown.
            Some lighter brown horses may trend to a golden-ish brown, but still brown.
            Ditto reddish horses, still brown.

            ALL horses are brown, unless they are not, then they are white.
            There are no white horses, only greys, some are very, very light grey.
            But still not white.
            Only unicorns are truly white.
            No self respecting [sic] cavalryman would ride a unicorn. .
            No self respecting unicorn would let a cavalry trooper get anywhere even close.

            There are no black horses, just very, very. very dark brown, see above.

            Speckled horses ought not appear in the ranks of the regulars.
            If your native irregulars ride speckled horses what make you think that they aren't brown, but wearing warpaint too?

            Stockings and blazes DO make the brown horses distinctive, as they should be, but still brown.

            Just to be sure, there may a quiz later,

            All horses are brown.

            This information I share freely from my vast equine experience, training, and books.

            It is always best to remember a horse is a weapon dangerous at both ends.
            Kinda like a bazooka, with head, hoofs, teeth & a temper.

            Here endeth the lesson

            "I'm not a veterinarian, but I know a horse's ass when I see one"
            Frank Crenshaw, Pendleton, SC City Council Meeting…
            Last edited by Fauxban; 08-17-2019, 12:02 PM. Reason: As Always, mis-spelt words, improper punctuation, lousy grammar, incomplete thoughts, false 'facts', and fragmentary remnants of prior editing failures.

            Dum Spiro Spero

            Bruce G. Rollin

            Late of Lazarus Battery
            guilt by association: Lilly's 18th Indiana/Lumsden's (Alabama) Battery
            Formerly Palmetto (S.C.) Light Artillery
            Past 3rd Lieutenant, 1stConfDiv Artillery Staff
            retired, dilettante, raconteur, postulator, button counter, nit picker and critic


            • #8
              Re: Horse Color?

              Unfortunately, I don't have any notes where this one popped up from. Perhaps this is the photo previously referred to.
              Click image for larger version

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              Paul McKee


              • #9
                Re: Horse Color?

                Originally posted by CompanyWag View Post
                Unfortunately, I don't have any notes where this one popped up from. Perhaps this is the photo previously referred to.
                That is a fantastic image! Just when they say it never happened, along comes a picture to throw everything up in confusion. I've often wondered about horses like this that would today be termed a "paint." You see horses in European paintings from the 1700's with similar color schemes.
                Thanks for sharing!
                Take care,
                Tom Craig
                1st Maine Cavalry
                Tom Craig


                • #10
                  Re: Horse Color?

                  And yet another.Click image for larger version

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                  Paul McKee


                  • #11
                    Re: Horse Color?

                    I think the first one that Paul posted is the one that gets the conversation started. Get photos.
                    Rob Bruno
                    1st MD Cav


                    • #12
                      Re: Horse Color?

                      Only way i would ride that is to keep from having to walk.
                      Ronnie Tucker,
                      Chief of Scouts
                      7th TN. Cavalry, Co. D


                      • #13
                        Re: Horse Color?

                        I'm back from the dead! No, not really, just been out of the loop for a bit... Guys, literally I have looked hundreds of images of horses and mounted images from the Civil War, and these are the ONLY two "paints" I have ever seen. There was also two recognizable roans and one I suspect of being a palomino. At the time of the ACW anything spotted (Appaloosa) was either in far nothwest America, the Knabstrupper in Denmark or the type in China that I don't recall what it's called... There is zero evidence of Appaloosas in the ACW, and VERY rare like two in a million cases of paints...
                        Zack Ziarnek


                        • #14
                          Re: Horse Color?

                          Hey tom,

                          I find your reply very useful and it is very relevant to the question.It gives me a clear idea about the horses
                          Peter James


                          • #15
                            Re: Horse Color?

                            I certainly agree with the concensus and evidence that the CW horses were solid colors, my question,
                            would a flea bitten grey be considered a solid color. From my (limited) research this color(ing) was not uncommon during the period, just wondering what the Army thought of it. I am not talking about "Traveller" or other horses used by ranking officers, but what was used by the common cavalryman.

                            Also, have also read about grey horses being assigned (Federal Army) to buglers if they were available, but I can find not written documentation to support this.

                            Thanks in advance for your input.