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Traveller (horse)

    Image:Traveller and Lee.jpg|thumb|250px|Traveller and Robert E. Lee Traveller (1857 – 1870) was Robert E. Lee's most famous horse during the American Civil War
    Traveller (birth name "Jeff Davis") was born near the Blue Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County Virginia (now West Virginia) raised by Andrew Johnston He was of the Gray Eagle stock and as a colt took the first prize at the Lewisburg Virginia fairs in 1859 and 1860 As an adult gelding he was a sturdy horse 16 hands high and 1100 pounds iron gray in color with black points
    In the spring of 1861 a year before achieving fame as a Confederate general Robert E. Lee was commanding a small force in western Virginia The quartermaster of the 3rd Virginia Infantry Captain Joseph M. Broun was directed to "purchase a good serviceable horse of the best Greenbrier stock for our use during the war" Broun purchased the horse for $175 from Andrew Johnston's son Captain James W. Johnston and named him "Greenbrier" Major Thomas L. Broun Joseph's brother recalled that Greenbrier
    was greatly admired in camp for his rapid springy walk his high spirit bold carriage and muscular strength He needed neither whip nor spur and would walk his five or six miles an hour over the rough mountain roads of Western Virginia with his rider sitting firmly in the saddle and holding him in check by a tight rein such vim and eagerness did he manifest to go right ahead so soon as he was mounted

    General Lee took a great fancy to the horse He called it his "colt" and predicted to Broun that he would use it before the war was over After Lee was transferred to South Carolina Joseph Broun sold the horse to him for $200 in February 1862 Lee named the horse "Traveller' (spelling the word with a double 'l' in British style)
    Lee described his faithful horse in a letter in response to Mrs Lee's cousin Markie Williams who wished to paint a portrait of Traveller:
    If I was an artist like you I would draw a true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions muscular figure deep chest short back strong haunches flat legs small head broad forehead delicate ears quick eye small feet and black mane and tail Such a picture would inspire a poet whose genius could then depict his worth and describe his endurance of toil hunger thirst heat and cold; and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection and his invariable response to every wish of his rider He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed But I am no artist Markie and can therefore only say he is a Confederate grey

    Traveller was a horse of great stamina and was usually a good horse for an officer in battle because he was difficult to frighten He could sometimes become nervous and spirited however At the Second Battle of Bull Run while General Lee was at the front reconnoitering dismounted and holding Traveller by the bridle the horse became frightened at some movement of the enemy and plunging pulled Lee down on a stump breaking both of his hands Lee went through the remainder of that campaign chiefly in an ambulance When he rode on horseback a courier rode in front leading his horse
    After the war Traveller accompanied Lee to Washington College He lost many hairs from his tail to admirers who wanted a souvenir of the famous horse and his general In 1870 when Lee died Traveller was led behind the General's hearse Not long after Lee's death Traveller stepped on a rusty nail and developed lockjaw There was no cure and he was shot to relieve his suffering He was buried next to the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University In 1907 his remains were disinterred and displayed at the Chapel before being reburied outside the Lee Chapel in 1971
    And now at last
    Comes Traveller and his master Look at them well
    The horse is an iron-grey sixteen hands high
    Short back deep chest strong haunch flat legs small head
    Delicate ear quick eye black mane and tail
    Wise brain obedient mouth
             Such horses are
    The jewels of the horseman's hands and thighs
    They go by the word and hardly need the rein
    They bred such horses in Virginia then
    Horses that were remembered after death
    And buried not so far from Christian ground
    That if their sleeping riders should arise
    They could not witch them from the earth again
    And ride a printless course along the grass
    With the old manage and light ease of hand
      — Passage from Army of Northern Virginia a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet

    Other horses

    Although the most famous Traveller was not Lee's only horse during the war:
    • Lucy Long a mare was the primary backup horse to Traveller She remained with the Lee family after the war dying considerably after Lee when she was thirty-three years old
    • Richmond a bay stallion was acquired by General Lee in early 1861 He died in 1862 after the Battle of Malvern Hill
    • Brown-Roan or The Roan was purchased by Lee in West Virginia around the time of Traveller's purchase He went blind in 1862 and had to be retired
    • Ajax a sorrel horse was too large for Lee to ride comfortably and thus used infrequently


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