Death of Col. Baxter Smith’s War Horse – A Historic Animal – Campaigns and Battles in which He Was Engaged.

Died on May 17, 1883, Joe Massengale, the cavalry horse of Col. Baxter Smith, aged about 27 years.

Nashville, TN (USA) May1883: Old Joe was a beautiful bay, handsomely formed and was certainly of illustrious ancestry, his endurance fully establishing the fact that the best blood coursed through his veins.

Joe entered the Confederate service in the year, 1862, and served through the celebrated West Virginia campaign under Gen. Lee. He came to the army of Tennessee in 1863, and was ridden by his owner, Lieut. Joe Massengale through many of its battles. His body bore the impress of many battle scars. At what is known as the Kilpatrick fight near Fayetteville, N.C., Gen. Wade Hampton, commanding, his owner, Lieut. Massengale was killed off of his back. The old horse, though riderless, remained at his post of duty with the front line of battle during the fight and came from the field with his company. At about this time Col. Smith was exchanged and returned to his regiment. The command purchased the horse at a cost of $2,550, with a fine rigging, and presented them to Col. Smith, Lieut. Orr, of Marshall county, making a beautiful presentation speech. After this Col. Smith rode him in the battle of Averyboro, and in the last charge of the army to save the bridge at Bentonville.

Joe surrendered at Charlotte, N.C., in 1865, and returned to Tennessee with the command. From that time he led a quiet life on the farm of Col. Smith, and was the admiration of every visitor. He was familiarly and affectionately known to every member of the regiment, and to all who may chance to see this notice the name of Joe Massengale will revive reminiscences, some pleasing, and some sad, of their soldier life.

Col. Smith having, been appointed one of the marshals for the military parade next Monday, had ordered his old horse from the farm in Williamson, but on the way here the horse received an injury of such character that he was advised to have him destroyed, which was done with a dose of morphine.

Poor old fellow! After such a stormy life, it seems that he should have had a natural death. He was given a decent burial. May the grass grow green and the birds sing sweetly over his resting place.

Originally published by The Tennessean, May 20, 1883

Featuring Etching Courtesy Edwin Formes (1839-1895), “The Advance of the Cavalry Skirmish Line (1862-1864, plate 37).