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5th New York Cavalry Morgan Horses

Company H of the 5th New York Cavalry

Charles F. Hammond, an iron entrepreneur in the Crown Point, NY area, assisted his son John Hammond with raising volunteer cavalry for the civil war after the First Battle of Bull run (or First Manassas). Charles Hammond advanced the funds with which to purchase the mounts for the entire company (H) of the Fifth New York Cavalry.

The government allotted $125.00 to purchase each horse for cavalry service. Within 30 days the Hammonds had selected and purchased 108 horses. Many farmers sold their horses at the government price. However, if a horse cost more than the allowed government amount, Hammond made up the difference in the price. The quality of the horses was such that when passing through New York on their way to the battle front, offers of $300.00 was made for some of the horses.

The horses which Hammond purchased were closely related to or sired by the Morgan stallion Black Hawk. Black Hawk was famous for his wins on the trotting track and for the quality and speed of his offspring. His most famous son was the World Champion Trotter Ethan Allen.

Black Hawk was owned by David Hill of Bridgeport, VT located near Lake Champlain which bisects the Champlain Valley between Vermont and New York. His descendants were numerous throughout the Champlain Valley on both sides of the lake. They were famed for their quality and elegance.

Of the 108 Morgans which left for the war, or 6 or 8 survived. Five were bought back from the government by their masters. Monuments to three of the horses which served in this unit were erected in Crown Point, NY after they passed away. The granite monument for “Pink” stand 12 feet high. The stones for Billy and Jeff were more modest.

The Fifth New York was destined to fight side by side with the First Vermont Cavalry throughout most of the war. The First Vermont Cavalry was also mounted on Morgan horses. Both units obtained a high reputation during the war. The success of both units was credited, in part, by the quality of their horses.

In most instances, the names and other details of the horses that served in the Civil War went unrecorded. The Morgan horse of Company H have proven to be an exception to this rule. So of the Morgan horses that served with this unit included:

Billy Jeff Cockeye(KIA) Nellie (KIA)

Pink Prince Frank(KIA) Jack(#1)

Mink Charley Brydon’s Nellie Topsy(KIA)

Jane Pomp Wyman Horse(KIA) Black Dick

June Lucy Mollie Sukey

Dunlaps Mare Jack (#2)(Died of colic)

horse hitches

Clifton, famous Morgan horse of the civil war

Clifton AMHR No. 457 is one of the few Morgans which has been documented by name as having served in the civil war. A son of Hale’s Green Mountain Morgan out of a chestnut mare by Gifford Morgan, Clifton was a bright chestnut stallion about 14.1 hands high and weighed 960 pounds. Foaled in 1852, he was bred by William Bellows of Walpole, NH.

At three moths of age, he was sold to Silas Hale, South Royalston, Ma., thence to S.H. Edgerly, Manchester, NH. at eighteen months. He was resold soon after to F.H. Lyford, who owned him until at least 1857. While owned in New England, Clifton won a walking match against young Morrill by a long distance. Clifton’s owner wrote the following lines about this:

“When Clifton arrived on the track; And waived his flaming tail, Mongrels and Morrills lagged behind, And in the distance trail”

– from “The greatest of Morgan Sires” by Allen W. Thompsom

Between this match race and the beginning of the Civil War, Clifton was apparently sold by F.H. Lyford to William R Capehart of North Carolina. Capehart was attending medical school in Virginia at the start of the Civil War. He enlisted in General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia of the confederate forces as a surgeon. He was attached to Wade Hampton’s cavalry.

“One of the best -bred Morgans that saw service in the war was Clifton, foaled at Walpole, New Hampshire, and ridden by W.R. Capehart of North Carolina until 1864, when the noble animal met a war-horse’s death in a cavalry engagement…..”

– from “Morgan in the Cavalry” by “Old Timer” (1911)

“Was foaled 1852, the property of Wm. Bellows, Esq., of Walpole, NH. Sired by Green Mountain 2nd [i.e., Hale’s Green Mountain Morgan], g sire, Gifford, g g sire, Woodbury, g g g sire, Justin Morgan. Dam, a chestnut, sired by Gifford, g dam by Sherman. Clifton is 14 1/4 hands high, and weighs 960 pounds. His color is a bright chestnut. At three months old Mr. Bellows sold him to Silas Hale, of South Royalston Mass. At eighteen moths old, Mr. Hale sold him to S.H. Edgerly, Esq., of Manchester NH., who shortly after sold him to F.H. Lyford, Esq., whose property he still remains. Clifton is a bold-looking active and muscular horse, and in many respects resembles his celebrated sire.”

– from D.C. Linsley’s Morgan Horse’s, 1857

“…..In September, 1857, at Manchester, NH., he was matched to walk five miles with young Morrill, and won in one hour, two minutes, 46 seconds, the only walking match then on record. Ridden by Dr. W.R. Capehart, North Carolina, through the war. Killed at cavalry fight …….near Cheraw, SC., 1864…..”

– Battell’s Morgan Horse and Register, volume I

After the war Dr. Capehart owned harness racing horses, but no documentation was found that would indicate that he owned many Morgan horses other than Clifton.

Compiled by Elizabeth A. Curler

Historical research in North Carolina by Ina Ish has made the above information on Clifton and Dr. Capehart more complete.

lawn jockeys

Colonel Rush’s Lancers


Lt. Col. C.F. Ruff

Philadelphia, Pa.

August 12, 1861

“Relative to the price paid for horses for Col. Rush’s Regt. thinks the $120 horses are not good enough”

General I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of the 10th inst. in regards to horses for Rush’s Regiment Volunteer Cavalry – I have just seen Colonel Rush, in reference to the matter, he is entirely satisfied that Horses suitable for Cavalry, cannot be procured at a less price than $135.00 each, that such horses as are offered for $120 are actually dearer than horse he can procure, and would accept at $140 – In all this is entirely agree with Colonel Rush, I have watched this matter of horses pretty closely, and – know to a certainty that such horse as will be procured at $140 are cheaper to the government than any horse can possible be purchased at any place, for $120 – for Cavalry Service: Colonel Rush’s – Opinion in this matter entirely disinterested, he seeks no contract, and no profit arising from from contract, he is as free from pecuniary interest in this matter as I am, and in this respect of personnel interest, differs from most, if not all, the colonels of volunteer cavalry; I understand him to say, and believe him, that his sole object is to mount his regiment efficiently. The regiment can be mounted here and well mounted, on northern horses from Vermont, and the northern part of New York [which are the best and most serviceable horses] at $140 each perhaps at an average of $135 and I will take care that no other description of horses shall be furnished. Allowance to say that it is bad economy to mount men on indifferent horses, at any price, and that having the presence and deffering to the wishes of Colonel Rush at every inspection of horses, he cannot fail to be satisfied, nor can it very well happen that the judgment of both of us, should be at fault.

Horses are offering here and elsewhere as Kentucky Horses. I know that they are not Kentucky Horses. In 1853 I had to purchase for my own regiment 500 Horses – I did so a Cincinnati’s, Ohio, and the horse market there was filled with horse buyers from Kentucky, in expressing my surprise at this, they told me they had turned their attention to breeding mules as the most profitable, that nothing but the finer class of horses, and mostly of racing stock was raised in Kentucky, and that they found it more to their interest to buy at Cincinnati, their ordinary, saddle, road, and draught horses – The horse here represented to be Kentucky horses are from Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and every way inferior to the Vermont, and Northern New York Horses: I make this representation on behalf of Colonel Rush, because he really feels and express his desire to have a well mounted regiment, and of course an effective one. I trust his wishes may be gratified, and express again the conviction that such horses as he accepts will be cheaper at $140 than any horses that can be procured any where else for Cavalry Service. I believe too the average may be reduced to $135 – not lower – please reply at your earliest convenience by telegraph.

Source – National Archives, Washington D.C. – “Horses” 1861 / Box 839 – Quartermaster / Consolidated, Correspondence / File 1794 – 1915

Available through the efforts and courtesy of Barbra Lindauer

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