Lincoln's Horse

Lincoln's Horse (HMWQF)

Location: Springfield, IL 62701 Sangamon County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 47.905', W 89° 38.726'

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When Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865,joyous citizens decorated Lincoln's horse, Old Bob, with flags and led him triumphantly through the streets of Springfield. A week later, on April 14, Lincoln was shot and died the next day. On May 5, Old Bob was again decorated—-this time in a black mourning blanket—-and marched through Springfield for the last time as part of his former owner's funeral procession. Here, Old Bob stands in mourning garb in front of the family home on Jackson Street.

Simple chores had important cultural significance for men in Lincoln's day. A neighbor reports that Lincoln "kept his own horse—-fed and curried it,—-fed and milked his own cow." It was customary for men of all stripes to care for horses, but for those from Southern backgrounds (which in pre-Civil War Illinois was the majority—-including Lincoln) milking was strictly women's work. In following the New England custom of men milking, Lincoln reflected a willingness to adopt "Yankee" attitudes that some of his Southern neighbors found degrading. No one could fault him on cultural grounds, however, over horses. His bodyguard claimed Lincoln was "passionately fond of fine Horses." His opponents ridiculed his appearance in the saddle as being awkward. But Lincoln was apparently a skilled rider. He matched the horsemanship of dashing Gen. George B. McClellan at troop reviews during the Civil War—-much to the General's dismay. And years after Lincoln was dead, no less an expert on horsemanship than Gen. Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed that Lincoln was indeed "a fine horseman." having easily handled Grant's own mount, Cincinnati.

Lincoln "loved his horse well."
So said Lincoln's next-door neighbor, James Gourley. Lincoln owned several horses over the years—-Tom, Belle, Old Buck, and finally Robin, whom Lincoln nicknamed "Old Bob" to distinguish him from his son Robert, "Young Bob." Old Buck and Old Bob, in particular, spent long hours trodding across many miles of Illinois prairie during the years when their owner was a circuit riding lawyer. A fellow lawyer once described Lincoln riding to court "behind his own horse, which was an indifferent, raw boned specimen." This was probably Old Buck, as others described Old Bob as a "pretty horse" of "bright reddish brown." When Lincoln visited Springfield in 1836, his horse strayed or was stolen. It is not known if he got it back. He was still a resident of New Salem at the time.

Newspaper Ad
Strayed or Stolen
From a stable in Springfield, on Wednesday, 18th last, a large bay horse, star on his forehead, plainly marked with harness, supposed to be eight years old; had been shed all round but is believed to have lastsome of his shoes, and trots and paces. Any person who will take up said horse, and leave information at the Journal office, or with the subscriber at New-salem, shall be liberally paid for their trouble.
A. Lincoln

Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 9:52pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273509 N 4408731
Decimal Degrees39.79841667, -89.64543333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 47.905', W 89° 38.726'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 47' 54.30" N, 89° 38' 43.56" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 801 E Capitol Ave, Springfield IL 62701, US
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