The Way Back: Old Mane

The Way Back: Old Mane

Tucked away in a collection of Civil War miscellany at the Briscoe Center, this lock of hair was taken from Old Sorrel, the horse that Confederate general Stonewall Jackson was riding when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.

Old Sorrel survived the battle and was relocated to greener pastures in Lexington, Virginia. When he died in 1886, his bones were removed and his hide—minus a few locks from the tail—was stuffed by a taxidermist for public display.

The same year, Confederate general Fitzhugh Lee became governor of Virginia, defeating his Republican opponent John S. Wise. Lee evidently acquired the lock and gave it to Wise in 1888, who subsequently gave it to his friend and fellow Republican J.B. Allen of Ohio in 1891. It’s not clear why Lee gave it to Wise, nor Wise to Allen—perhaps it was an attempt to school him in the mythology of the South. Neither is it clear quite how the artifact ended up at UT; but one supposes history rhymes with mystery for a reason.

Photo by Anna Donlan, Briscoe Center, UT-Austin


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