Rienzi.

Stuffed Civil War Hero Horse

Field review by the editors.

Washington, DC

Died 1878

Pet Cemetery.

Rienzi was the war horse of Union General Phil Sheridan. If location is any indication, he is also the most honored horse in America -- occupying his own glass case in the Hall of Armed Forces History at the Smithsonian. It can be argued that without this noble steed, Lincoln would never have been reelected, and then assassinated, and THEN where would we be?

1864 had been another bad year for Union generalship. It looked especially bleak when, during the crucial battle for the Shenandoah Valley, Sheridan's troops were routed by the Rebels. This wasn't Sheridan's fault, since at the time he was 12 miles away in the little town of Winchester, on his way back from a staff meeting in Washington. But when he got the news, he realized that one more loss could mean defeat for Lincoln in the November elections.

Sheridan spurred Rienzi on, relying on the horse's immense strength and endurance to carry him to the battlefield in time. Rienzi surged across fields and up roads clogged with wounded men until he arrived at the front, giving Sheridan a chance to rally his troops for a counterattack. He succeeded, the Union forces carried the day (and the war), and Lincoln was reelected (and assassinated). Sheridan, with keen political instincts, renamed his horse "Winchester" and eventually got promoted to Commander in Chief of the Army.

Rienzi saw 19 pitched battles and was wounded several times. When he died, he was stuffed and put on display in the US First Army Museum in New York City. That museum burned in 1922, but Rienzi was saved and given an Army escort to the Smithsonian. He can be seen there today, only a few blocks from the museum that displays pillows stained with Lincoln's blood.

Also see: Noble Steeds | Roadside Pet Cemetery

Stuffed Civil War Hero Horse

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Address:
14th St., Washington, DC
Directions:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center, 14th St and Constitution Ave NW.
Hours:
Daily 10 am - 5:30 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
202-633-1000
RA Rates:
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