Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel

Time Period
1861 to 1876
1877 to 1924
1925 to Today
Media Type
Civil War
Sharon B. Smith

On September 14, 2017, Sharon B. Smith delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “Stonewall Jackson's Little Sorrel.”

During the Civil War and throughout the rest of the nineteenth century there was no star that shone brighter than that of a small red horse who was known as Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel. Robert E. Lee’s Traveller eventually became more familiar but was mostly famous for his looks. Not so with Little Sorrel. Early in the war he became known as a horse of great personality and charm, an eccentric animal with an intriguing background. Like Traveller, his enduring fame was due initially to the prominence of his owner and the uncanny similarities between the two of them. The little red horse long survived Jackson and developed a following of his own. In fact, he lived longer than almost all horses who survived the Civil War as well as many thousands of human veterans. His death in 1886 drew attention worthy of a deceased general, his mounted remains have been admired by hundreds of thousands of people since 1887, and the final burial of his bones in 1997 was the occasion for an event that could only be described as a funeral, and a well-attended one at that. Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel is the story of that horse.

Sharon B. Smith was a reporter, interviewer, and anchor of televised horse sports on ESPN, NBC, and Sportschannel Los Angeles during the 1980s and 1990s. She wrote, produced, and anchored ESPN’s “Down the Stretch,” a weekly half hour racing news program. She is the author of seven books including, Pocket Guide to Betting on Horses (1999), Connecticut’s Civil War (2009), The Best There Ever Was: Dan Patch and the Dawn of the American Century (2012), and Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel: An Unlikely Hero of the Civil War (2016).

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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