Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Old Sam, War Horse

Doug's brother, Dennis, lives in Coldwater, Michigan, and is a bit of a history buff...especially military history. He has often talked about one of the local heroes in Coldwater, a draft horse named Old Sam, a hero of the Civil War.

Old Sam was one of 200 horses who served in the American Civil War with the Loomis Battery from Coldwater. He was the only one of those 200 horses to come home to Coldwater in 1865, after the war ended.

Old Sam was already 12 years old when he was called into wartime service. A statement on Old Sam's memorial plaque in Loomis Park states that the horse was wounded several times and half-starved most of the time; yet he endured four years of battle fatigue, hunger, and pain, when the average survival rate for war horses was only three to five months.

The Loomis Battery took part in at least twelve major Civil War battles, including Perryville, Stone River, Hoover's Gap, and Chickamauga.

After living out his post-war life in leisure, Old Sam died on November 8, 1876. His old war comrades wanted to bury him in Coldwater's Oak Grove Cemetery, where other members of the Loomis Battery had been buried, but were told that burial of animals was not permitted there.

Determined that the old war horse should be buried with his comrades, those men of the Loomis Battery created a diversion at night and sneaked the body of Old Sam into the cemetery, where they buried him with full military honors, then covered the burial site with autumn leaves to hide it from discovery.

For years, Old Sam's presence in the Oak Grove Cemetery was denied or ignored. But now a tombstone marks the spot.

Surrounded by the graves of other members of the Loomis Battery


A memorial plaque in Loomis Park tells Old Sam's story.

Old Sam's caisson (a chest to hold ammunition), on display in Loomis Park

The back of the caisson, where you can see a trailer hitch

Old Sam's cannon, which would have been pulled behind the caisson

And finally...

Some beautiful flowers, to end this post on a lighter note


  1. You know what - I hated history in school, but I love it now and even volunteered as a living history presenter along with our youngest daughter when I was homeschooling her. If only history could be taught visually with visits to historical places and through stories like this one you've shared. Great post!

  2. awww. that is really sweet that the men of that day respected him enough to bury him there. what a great honor for a poor old soldier... :)

  3. Thank you for sharing this fascinating story of Old Sam. I'm glad he was able to be buried with other veterans of his unit. I guess we should never underestimate the ingenuity and determination of veterans.

  4. Very touching story. I'm so glad he got the "well-deserved" recognition. And the flower photo is gorgeous!

  5. Such a sweet story. That must've been one tough horse. And well loved, I might add. Good for the men to bury him in the cemetery anyway. He certainly deserved it. Great post, Linda!

  6. Lovely story. So many horses died in our wars that it's nice to see at least one of them remembered.

  7. Hi Linda What a fascinating story adn all endswell and I alsolove the flowers.

  8. Very nice story Linda.I love the yellow canna in the flower planting.

  9. Interesting, Linda. George is a Civil War history lover also---but mostly has followed Robert E. Lee. We did alot of Civil War History on this latest trip. And since George knows so much about those areas, he was my personal tour guide. SO interesting.

    Great story about Old Sam.


  10. Hi Linda! This story is so precious! I know that soldiers had such a relationship with their horses. They went into the battle and 'fought' right with them. I love how they all banded together to get Sam into the cemetery. (I try not to think about dragging the dead horse there, though!)

    I think these horses are the unsung heroes of battle. I loved reading this.
    Hope all is well with your and your 'horse'/car!

  11. Great story, Linda. Your photos are lovely.

  12. wow. what great history... i had to quiet my brain & listen.
    i enjoyed it so. thank you for sharing. ( :

  13. That is a super story- thanks for sharing!

  14. What a wonderful story to come from such a dark spot of history. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Thank you for keeps his memory alive. :)

  16. So tender. They clearly loved and respected Old Sam. Comrades to and beyond the end.

  17. So interesting and such great photos!


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