Old Baldy

Old Baldy, Horse Hero Head (In Transition)

Field review by the editors.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died 1882

Pet Cemetery.

George Meade was the Union general who defeated Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. A crusty curmudgeon, known as "old snapping turtle," he had a special place in his heart for his horse, Old Baldy, who he mentioned frequently in letters home to his wife.

Old Baldy had been wounded at least four times when General Meade retired him. Yet he outlived the general by ten years, and even got to participate in the general's funeral as the riderless horse.

Old Baldy died and was buried outside in Philadelphia in 1882. Nine days later, two Civil War vets named Hervy and Johnston -- in a burst of belated sentimentality -- dug up Old Baldy's remains, cut off his head, stuffed it into a gunny sack, and dragged it back to their veterans post. The head was mounted and hung in a place of honor behind the Post Commander's chair.

The post eventually became Philadelphia's Grand Army of the Republic Museum, and Old Baldy is still there. He's now displayed inside a special case -- with anti-UV glass and climate control -- partly to preserve the head from decay, and party because, as we were told, he's so nose-heavy that if he were hung on a wall, he might pull the whole thing down.

Old Baldy was the mascot head of GAR Philadelphia Post 1, whose membership was mostly officers. Post 2, mostly enlisted men, had its own mascot head, a common Army mule. That mule head is also on display at the GAR Museum, along with relics such as a strip of blood-stained pillowcase from Abraham Lincoln's deathbed, and the contents of John Wilkes Booth's traveling trunk, which was found in his hotel room after he shot the President.

Also see: Faithful Steeds | Roadside Pet Cemetery

Old Baldy, Horse Hero Head

Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library

4278 Griscom St., Philadelphia, PA
In the northeast Frankfort part of the city, in the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library. I-95 exit 25. Drive west on Allegheny Ave. for about a mile, then turn right onto Frankford Ave. Drive north for a little over 1.5 miles. When the elevated rail lines come over the street, turn left at the second stoplight onto Church St. Drive one block and turn left onto Griscom St. The Museum will be at the end of the block, on the right, in the tall brick house.
To reopen June 2022. (Call to verify)
In Transition
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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