“What a Horse! What a Traveller!”

Some visitors to Lexington, Virginia seek out a penny-decorated gravestone behind Lee Chapel and a stable-turned-garage with great big doors. These sites commemorate Traveller, Robert E. Lee’s horse.

I’ve liked Traveller for a long time. In fact, I liked him so much that I named my car after him. Like Traveller, my Civic is silvery gray with black points, and he transports his mistress wherever she wants to go.

So when Cindy told me she was reading Richard Adams’ Traveller, a tale of the Civil War told from the horse’s perspective, I had to check it out.

The story takes place in Traveller’s Lexington stable, next to the house where Lee lived when he was president of Washington College. He tells his story to Tom the Nipper and Baxter, two cats that belonged to Lee’s youngest daughter, Mildred. Even Little Sorrel, Stonewall Jackson’s “dirty little scrap of a horse,” makes an appearance. (Little Sorrel’s another favorite Civil War character of mine; I like visiting him at Virginia Military Institute, where he’s stuffed and on display in the school’s museum).

My favorite part of the book is where Traveller talks about how serious and solitary “Marse Robert” was. Although he made men trust him and do anything he said, his best friend was Traveller. They were more comfortable with each other than with anyone else.

Do you know how Traveller got his name? After his birth near the Blue Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia), the dear boy was called “Jeff Davis.” Then, another owner named him “Greenbrier.” Things changed again, after Lee acquired his new “colt.” According to the book, Lee and his faithful horse rode forty miles one day. When they finally stopped, another officer who was with Lee said, “What a horse, General! What a traveller!”


This entry was posted in Books, History, Virginia, Washington and Lee. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “What a Horse! What a Traveller!”

  1. Cindy Spikowski says:

    What a book! I am so glad that you liked it.

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