General Sheridan's Horse "Winchester" AKA "Rienzi"

General Sheridan's Horse "Winchester" AKA "Rienzi"

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This horse was presented to General Philip Sheridan by the officers of the Second Michigan Cavalry in 1862. He was three years old, was jet black with three white fetlocks, and stood 16 hands high. Originally called "Rienzi" after the town of Rienzi, Mississippi, his name was changed to "Winchester" by Sheridan after he carried Sheridan on his famous ride from Winchester, Virginia, to Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864, in time to rally his troops and turn almost certain defeat into victory. While Cedar Creek was his most famous engagement, Winchester and Sheridan were actually together for more than forty others. Winchester was even present at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865 for the official surrender of the Confederate Army.
Despite being wounded in battle several times, Winchester lived to be almost 20 years old. After his death in October 1878, he was preserved and mounted; in 1879, Sheridan presented him to the Military Museum at Governors Island, New York. Winchester was exhibited there until a fire in 1922 forced the museum to transfer him to the Smithsonian Institution; a military escort accompanied him to his new home amid much fanfare. He was put on display in the National Museum until 1964, when he moved to the newly opened National Museum of American History.
Horse and man have forever been immortalized and commemorated in poetry, song, sculpture, museum exhibits and battlefield recollections. Portraits, sketches and poems all immortalized Sheridan’s famous ride atop Winchester. The most famous of these poems was written by Thomas Buchanan Read, a painter; the poem, entitled "Sheridan's Ride", became an instant sensation and was even thought to have helped Lincoln get reelected. Read followed up the poem in 1865 with a painting of the same title.
Object Name
associated date
Sheridan, Philip H.
associated place
United States: Mississippi
United States: Virginia, Winchester
Physical Description
skin (overall material)
hair (overall material)
overall: 64 in; 162.56 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Civil War
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
Civil War
Price of Freedom
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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