Skip to Main Content

Old Baldy

Old Baldy: Horse Hero Head

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 Civil War Museum

8110 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA
Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum. Northeast edge of the city. On the west side of US-13/Frankford Ave. just south of the stone Holmesburg Church and just north of Welsh Rd.
Tu 11-4 or by appt. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Donations welcome.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Four Seasons Press Conference SiteFour Seasons Press Conference Site, Philadelphia, PA - 1 mi.
Ice Cream Cone BuildingIce Cream Cone Building, Philadelphia, PA - 1 mi.
9/11 Rescue Workers Tribute9/11 Rescue Workers Tribute, Pennsauken, NJ - 6 mi.
In the region:
Creeper Gallery, New Hope, PA - 23 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Pennsylvania

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Pennsylvania.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

Pennsylvania Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum, Gibsland, Louisiana (May 20-26, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings