Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Jeff Davis

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 15, 2012

Ulysses S. Grant’s horse, Jeff Davis, at City Point, Virginia, March 1865. Library of Congress image.





Grant was known from his West Point days as a superb horseman, even though he didn’t cut a very heroic-looking figure when mounted; he was famously described as sitting in the saddle “like a sack of meal.”

Grant’s son Fred described how his father came to value this animal:

In [the Vicksburg] campaign, General Grant had two other horses, both of them very handsome, one of which he gave away and the other he used until. late in the war. During the campaign and siege of Vicksburg, a cavalry raid or scouting party arrived at Joe Davis’ plantation (the brother of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy) and there captured a black pony which was brought to the rear of the city and presented to me. The animal was worn out when it reached headquarters but was a very easy riding horse and I used him once or twice. With care he began to pick up and soon carried himself in fine shape.
At that time my father was suffering with a carbuncle and his horse being restless caused him a great deal of pain. It was necessary for General Grant to visit the lines frequently and one day he took this pony for that purpose. The gait of the pony was so delightful that he directed that he be turned over to the quartermaster as a captured horse and a board of officers be convened to appraise the animal. This was done and my father purchased the animal and kept him until he died, which was long after the Civil War. This pony was known as “Jeff Davis.”



11 Responses

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  1. Bummer said, on December 16, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Super picture and quote, Andy. Bummer was fortunate to be around working horses on a ranch when he was young and can readily identify, with the pleasure of riding a horse with an easy gait. Whether checking fence lines or bringing in strays, hours in the saddle can be miserable unless the ride is smooth and at least even.


  2. S. Thomas Summers said, on December 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

    “…like a sack of meal.” There’s a good piece of writing.

    S. Thomas Summers
    Pushcart Nominated Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

  3. Joseph said, on January 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Do you make the 3D wobble gifs with Photoshop? It’s a very cool effect!

    • Andy Hall said, on January 1, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      StereoPhoto Maker 4.37 — free download. You have to start with a stereoview (two images), though.

      • Joseph said, on January 3, 2013 at 12:55 am

        I’ve got a cheapo 3D Lomo lens sitting in a box in the basement somewhere (which I played with a few years back, and then stopped using).

        It’s basically two lenses, and uses mirrors to expose two images (with slightly different perspectives) onto 35mm film.

        I’m gonna have to see if I can find it again…

        • Andy Hall said, on January 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

          I have one of those too, somewhere. For those unfamiliar, the Loreo is an inexpensive lens for an SLR camera (either digital or 35mm film) that uses mirrors to capture two images, left and right, in a single frame. It’s a great concept, but mine never worked worth a damn; I think the alignment of the mirrors was off, which resulted in two images that barely overlapped — unusable for 3D purposes.

          • Joseph said, on January 4, 2013 at 12:05 am

            Yeah, Loreo. Not Lomo. I just found it this evening. (Don’t see my viewer, though.)

            Mine did work, but I can easily imagine that the quality control wasn’t very good.

            Anyways, I’m looking forward to trying it out again. And using StereoPhoto Maker with JPGs made from the prints.

            • Andy Hall said, on January 4, 2013 at 7:27 am

              Let me know how it goes.

              • Joseph said, on February 8, 2013 at 11:38 pm

                Some of them worked out very well, others less so.

                I ended up using Photoshop instead of StereoPhoto Maker simply because I already (sorta) know how to use it. Sometime I’ll try StereoPhoto Maker just to see if it’s less laborious, though.

                Anyways, here’s how they turned out:


              • Joseph said, on February 8, 2013 at 11:46 pm

                Oh, I forgot to mention: one of the two lenses is slightly darker than the other. And in some images, it almost looks like one lens is slightly polarized, so that light hits distant pine trees differently for that lens.

                It creates a kind of strobe effect that I don’t really like. But it’s just for fun, so it’s not a big deal.

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