Armistice Day, more commonly marked as Veteran's Day, is an opportunity to commemorate the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at the end of World War I, and also gives us a moment to stop and remember the brave men and women who died for their countries in military conflicts as far back as 4,000 B.C.
Lest not we forget the countless number of horses who bravely stood throughout time alongside these courageous men and women.
Back in the mid-90s, Paul Mellon wanted to do something to commemorate the Civil War horses and mules, on both the Union and Confederate sides. On his farm in Upperville, he had a three-quarter life-size bronze of Sea Hero, winner of the 1993 Kentucky Derby, standing in the midst of his broodmare barn. This exquisite bronze sculpture's artist was Tessa Pullan of Rutland, England.
Mr. Mellon set forth gathering knowledgeable people to team up with Tessa Pullan, which set the project into motion. Extensive painstaking care was taken to ensure that this Civil War Horse memorial's design was absolutely authentic. Photographs of a horse that was utilized in 4th Virginia Calvary reenactments were taken from every angle imagineable, with various pieces of loaned equipment in place. Photographs of period prints and paintings were provided to Tessa, including one caught in a brutal snow storm by Remington.
It was important to Mr. Mellon that the horse be portrayed as absolutely exhausted and somewhat starved, without rider and empty scabbard -- translating loss of soldier in calvary battle. Cruelty photographs were provided from the R.S.P.C.A., which aided in giving the effect of a horse whose rider was killed and was dying of exhaustion after a long battle.
One difficulty was making the horse appear as though it may have been outfitted as Northern or Southern. The saddle portrayed is a McClellan, used by Northern soldiers but taken or copied by the Southern soldiers. All gear used for the project was original from the Civil War period. Ultimately, a specialist in civil war accoutrements approved the model (which took Tessa two months to produce) before the actual casting (which took an additional six months to complete).
For it's inscription on the base, Mellon's staff contacted Civil War historian, Nick Nichols for statistical information, which reads as follows:
"In Memory of the One and One Half Million Horses
and Mules of the Union and Confederate Armies
Who Were Killed, Were Wounded, or Died from
Disease in the Civil War."
The original sculpture is located at the National Sporting Library in his bare golden bronze colored skin. There is an additional inscription on this original version of the statue due to the location of the library in Middleburg, Virginia:
"Many Perished Within 20 Miles of Middleburg
in the Battles of Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville in June of 1863."
Mellon commissioned a second copy for the United States Calvary Museum in Ft. Riley, Kansas, which is presented in a dark patina, a similar color of the Sea Hero bronze.
And finally, Mellon wanted a third copy placed at the Virginia Historical Society located in Richmond, Virginia. But after visiting the Society, Mellon realized that the horse was too small for presentation outside the Society, and commissioned that the third (and final) memorial be enlarged to full-size.