General Sheridan's Horse Rienzi Winchester – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura

General Sheridan's Horse Rienzi Winchester

This taxidermy horse was a Civil War hero. 


Union General Phil Sheridan loved his horse so much, he had the animal stuffed when it finally died, after heroically fighting in over a dozen battles and surviving multiple wounds during the U.S. Civil War.

The most famous was the crucial battle for the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, 1864. General Sheridan was 12 miles away in a small town of Winchester when the battle broke out, but thanks to the strength and power of his trusty horse, Rienzi, he was able to make the famous ride from Winchester to Cedar Creek in time to ride to the front, rally the Union troops, and win the day.

Cedar Creek was one of 45 engagements including 19 pitched battles that Sheridan and Rienzi fought together. The horse was wounded several times in battle, but lived nearly 20 years, and became famous throughout the course of the war, even helping campaign for Lincoln’s reelection.

When the horse died, Sheridan had it stuffed, and renamed it Winchester as a (politically strategic) reminder of the heroic victory. The taxidermy animal was originally donated to the US First Army Museum in New York City, but the museum burned down in 1922. Yet again, the horse managed to survive, and it was then that it made the trip— under military escort—to its permanent home at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Know Before You Go

The horse is located in the Hall of Armed Forces History exhibit at the Smithsonian.

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