The Adventures of Hawkins’ Horse


When the 4th Brigade of the Union forces began their march from the landing at Chantilly on their 12 mile trip to South Mills, Col. Rush Hawkins of the 9th New York Zouaves was the only mounted officer. He commanded the 4th Brigade, composed of the 9th New York, the 89th New York, and the 6th New Hampshire.


Somewhere along the route to South Mills, Lt. Col. Kimball of the 9th NY severely sprained his foot and lower leg, making it difficult for him to keep up. Col. Hawkins surrendered his horse for Kimball to ride and walked the rest of the way to the battlefield alongside his men.


During the Zouave's famous charge, Kimball was the only mounted officer involved. His horse was wounded and fell, pinning Kimball temporarily. The horse scrambled to its feet and ran off into the woods to the right, where it was found and tied to a tree, presumably by members of the 51st Pennsylvania stationed there.


The following article appeared in the Macon Daily Telegraph:


"Once an officer was seen advancing, sword in hand, on horseback, at the head of his column, cheering and urging his men on. On they came - on, nearer and nearer, until within half musket range, when some of our boys singled him out and took deliberate aim. They fired and a black horse was seen riderless galloping from the spot. We have since learned that this was Gen. Reno."


They were mistaken. The officer was Lt. Col. Kimball.


In the unfinished regimental history of the 3rd Georgia, Sgt J. H. Lindsey states: "The mounted officers of the 9th New York rode to their front. At this moment Gus Whitten, of Company D, said, addressing his captain, who was at his side: 'If you will say the word, I will bring down the fellow on the white [sic] horse.' To which Capt. A(ndrews) replied, 'all right.' Then Whitten rose to his feet, took deliberate aim and fired. The officer fell and the horse ran off the field."


According to 9th NY Private John N. Gray, "Another volley comes, and our brave Colonel is wounded; and the horse which the Lt. Col. rode is shot through the shoulders, barely missing the rider, and becomes unmanageable."


Adjutant George Shorkley of the 51st Pennsylvania takes up the narration. Describing the arrival of the 51st back at the landing at Chantilly after retreating from the battlefield under the cover of darkness, Shorkley states, " We were agreeably surprised to find some of our wounded here as soon as we were. One of [company] 'G', Irvin, having heard at the Hospital of the movement, remembered where he had seen them tie Col. Hawkins wounded horse, luckily found it there and rode him through." Robert Irvin of Co. "I" was listed as wounded slightly in the arm.


No further report has been found as to the fate of the horse.