Traveller

A tribute to Robert E Lee’s Horse “Traveller”.

“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.” ——- Stephen Vincent Benet

This entry was posted in Bits and Pieces, Cavalry, Equestrian History, Military Equitation. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Traveller

  1. James says:

    ok, so now, since we placed this little ditty up there for our purview, and without looking it up, what was Marse Lee’s horse originally named before it was know by the name, “Traveler”?

    And don’t go looking it up……I’m watching.

  2. Dan Gilmore says:

    Good question, James. Traveller’s original name was “Jeff Davis”, was born near the town of Blue Sulphur Springs, in Greenbrier County, Virginia. He was an American Saddlebred from the ‘Grey Eagle’ line. Poor old Traveller died about a year after Lee did. Traveller stepped on a nail and contracted Lockjaw (tetanus) which could not be cured at that time and was dispatched with a single pistol shot to end his suffering. There are still a few horses around that are from the ‘Grey Eagle’ breeding lines.

    This particular line is noted for its ‘Huckleberry Grey” coloration (iron grey coat, black points, mane and tail. Lee, according to one letter he wrote, called the coloration “Confederate Gray”:

    “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 gray”.

    — Robert E. Lee, letter to Markie Williams

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