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Thousands of horses were pressed into service in the Confederate army as personal mounts for the officers, as cavalry chargers, and to pull artillery guns and wagons. Horses, mules, and even oxen were employed hauling supply wagons wherever the army went. Officers were required to furnish their own mounts and equipment while cavalry troopers were compensated by the government for supplying their own horses. War could be very hard on the horses: aside from the shared dangers of the battlefield there were the long marches which caused saddle sores and exhaustion, and many an animal went lame under the stress of traveling so many miles. Keeping the horses adequately fed was often difficult, especially in winter, and many died of colic from eating green corn and rotten hay.
Military arsenals and supply and manufacturing depots were spread across the south from Richmond, Virginia, to San Antonio, Texas, and a number of these supplied saddles and other horse equipment to the Confederate armies.
Perhaps the most famous horse of the war was Robert E. Lee's gray gelding Traveller. In the museum's collection is the saddle, bridle and bit used on Traveller. Also in the collection is the McClellan saddle used by Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's western-style horned saddle, as well as Gen. John Hunt Morgan's silver embroidered presentation saddle, and a brass curb bit given to Nathan Bedford Forrest with the shanks forming the letters "CS." Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, Robert E. Lee's nephew, rode a McClellan saddle with a quilted leather seat, while Gen. Paul Semmes favored an older model Grimsley dragoon saddle with its high pommel and cantle.
Associated equipment includes wooden, brass, and iron stirrups, saddlbags, saddle holsters, shabraques (decorative saddle cloths), valises, and a "CSA" branding iron.