Take a look at the below list of Top 10 Famous War Horses in History. For the past 5000 years, when humans went to war, horses went with them. These brave animals unwittingly changed the face of human history as they carried their riders, supplies, and raced to the battlefield. Horses allowed for the development of chariot warfare and later the introduction of cavalry units. Horses make up the ranks of millions of unsung heroes who have bled and died alongside their human counterparts. Horses have provided crucial support to troops throughout history. Some of them have become as famous for their deeds as their human caretakers. The following list pays tribute to the top 10 famous war horses in history whose stories should not be forgotten.
List of Top 10 Famous War Horses in History
It was June 21, 1576. On this day Mahabharata Pratap rode into battle with his horse Chetak, a male Marwari breed. This breed has an easy-going gait that makes them favored by many horse owners. They are most known for their loyalty and bravery during battle. Their inward curving ears and deep chest are characteristic of this famous breed. Maharana Pratap and Chetak rode into battle in Northern India. Chetak fell, but became inspiration for local folk tales. He was said have a blue tinge, which made him known as the famous blue horse of India. After his death, a statue was made in his honor.
Traveller was the most famous American saddle bread horse ridden by Gen. Robert E Lee during the Civil War. The horse was born in 1857 and died in 1871. This gray horse with black points was easily recognized. He was of Grey Eagle stock and won first prize at the Lewisburg Virginia fair in 1859 and 1860. General Lee acquired him in 1962 and rode him into many battles. He was a well-seasoned war horse. Lee had a great fondness for the strong, muscular steed with a lively gait. During Robert E Lee’s funeral Travelelr was led behind the caisson bearing the casket with his saddle and bridle draped in black crêpe fabric. Traveller died several months after Robert E Lee, having to be put down when he contracted incurable tetanus from stepping on a nail.
Bucephalus was the horse of Alexander the Great. His name translates from ancient Greek meaning ox head. The horse is depicted on coins with two ox horns. He was born in 355 BC and died June 326 BC after the Battle of Hydaspes in what is now modern Pakistan. He had the branding mark of an ox head on his rump, which is the suppose it origin of the name, rather than the shape of his head. He is often depicted in Greek art and literature. One of the most famous legends about the horse is that Alexander the Great won him at age 13 by being the only person who was able to tame him.
Palomo belonged to Venezuelan military and political leader Simon Bolivar. Palomo is most well-known for his beauty. He was tall, white, and had a shiny tail. According to legend, his wife saw herself giving Bolivar a colt as a gift. This was told to Bolivar by one of his guides. The guide did not know who he was talking to at the time. Bolivar told the guide to tell his wife to keep the colt for him. This colt turned out to be the famous Palomo who is pictured in statues throughout the region.
Marengo is one of the most famous horses, pictured in many paintings of Napoleon Bonaparte riding into battle. Marengo was born in 1793 and lived until 1831. He was named after the Battle of Marengo after carrying Napoleon through safely. Marengo was imported to France from Egypt in 1799 at six years old. That was more than likely bred at the famous El Naseri stable. Marengo was wounded eight times during his career but never lost his steadfastness and courage. He was often used in 80 mile gallops, which he did in about five hours. His skeleton is on display at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London. This is one among the Top 10 Famous War Horses in History.
Kasztanka was the mare owned by Poland’s leader Marshal Jozef Pilsudski. The famous horse was born around 1909 and died November 23, 1927. The chestnut mare was named for her color. She entered Army service when she was given by her owner to the First Brigade of the Polish Legions in 1914. She was Pilsudski’s favorite companion throughout the battles in Austria and Hungary, and Germany, during World War I. Her loyalty was her most famous trait. She did not like artillery fire, but would remain controlled and obedient when asked to do so by her master. She bore two colts during her life and died of illness.
Copenhagen was the most famous chestnut stallion born in 1808 and who died in 1836. The owner of this famous steed was the Duke of Wellington. This mixed thoroughbred and Arabian was the famous Mount rode by the Duke at the Battle of Waterloo. Standing at 15 hands high, Copenhagen was muscular, yet compact. Copenhagen began his career as a race horse, but entered into the military service in 1813. He was known more for his endurance than for his speed, probably owing to his Arabian ancestry. During the Battle of Waterloo Copenhagen carried the Duke for more than 17 hours continuously. Copenhagen spent his retirement as a parade and ceremonial amount, enjoying a pampered life.
Cincinnati was the horse ridden by Ulysses S Grant in the Civil War. Cincinnati was born in 1860 and died in 1878. He was the famous son of Lexington, who was at the time the fastest 4-mile thoroughbred in the United States. Cincinnati was a gift from an admirer during the war. This handsome powerful horse was Grant’s favorite. He was ridden by Grant at the famous surrender of Robert E Lee at Appomattox Courthouse. Nearly all statues of Grant feature Cincinnati. Cincinnati retired and died in Maryland on the farm of Adm. Daniel Ammen. The image of Grant and Cincinnati are inseparable.
Comanche was a mixed breed horse and the sole survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The horse was bought by the US Army in 1868 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was sent to Leavenworth, Kansas where he soon became the favorite of Captain Miles Keogh. He was a gelding of unknown ancestry. His only purpose was as a battle horse. In 1868, during a battle with the Comanche, the horse was wounded in the rump with an arrow, but continued to carry his rider through the battle. He was wounded many times during battle, but continued to display the same strength of spirit and toughness. He was wounded in the Battle of Bighorn, but was nursed back to health and retired.
1. Sergeant Reckless
The honors for the top war horse of all time has to go to Sergeant Reckless. Sergeant Reckless was a mare of either Mongolian or thoroughbred mixed breed born in 1948. She was one of the most decorated war horses and held an official rank in the US military. She began her life as a Korean racehorse who was bought by the US Marine Corps as a pack horse attached to an anti-tank company. She was allowed to wander the camp and would sleep in the Marine’s tents on cold nights where she would often eat eggs, drink beer, Coca-Cola, and at one point consumed $30 worth of poker chips. She often traveled to deliver supplies to troops on her own without a handler. She was wounded in battle twice and was given the rank of Corporal in 1953 and later a battlefield promotion to Sergeant in 1954. She received two Purple Hearts and the Marine Corps’ Good Conduct Medal. She also received two Presidential Citations.
These are the Top 10 Famous War Horses in History. The use of the war horses did not begin to be phased out until World War I, when tank warfare became more popular. The U.S. Army used horses as recently as 2001 during the invasion of Afghanistan. This just goes to show that the use of horses in warfare remains a valuable part of military strategy.