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Rienzi or Winchester

Presented by officers of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry to General Sheridan in Rienzi, Mississippi, in 1862, this black horse was ridden by him in nearly every engagement in which he participated during the remainder of the Civil War, including the occasion of his ride from Winchester to Cedar Creek, Virginia, October 19, 1864, immortalized by Thomas Buchanan Read in his poem entitled, “Sheridan’s Ride.” After the Battle of Cedar Creek, the name of the horse was changed by General Sheridan from Rienzi to Winchester. Standing sixteen hands high and of Morgan blood, he was, in Sheridan’s words, “an animal of great intelligence and immense strength and endurance. He always held his head high, and by the quickness of his movements gave many persons the idea that he was exceedingly impetuous. This was not so, for I could at any time control him by a firm hand and a few words, and he was as cool and quiet under fire as one of my soldiers. I doubt if his superior as a horse for field service was ever ridden by any one.”

The saddle, bridle, and other trappings shown on Winchester were used by General Sheridan.

Division of the History of Technology, Armed Forces History
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Behring Center
Transfer from the Military Service Institute


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