In honor of President's Day, we're taking this week to blog about Presidential Pets. The White House has been home to a multitude of cats and dogs, but more varied animals have roamed the halls and the grounds than you may be aware of.
In George Washington's world, animals had purpose and function and were esteemed more for their capabilities and breeding than for sentiment. Regardless, Washington was devoted to his animals and perhaps to his horse, Nelson, most of all.
Nelson was George Washington's favored mount during the Revolutionary War and carried our first President through many battles. Strong enough to bear Washington's 6'3" frame and steady under the most intense cannon fire, Nelson earned a reputation as a superb warhorse. When General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, it was Nelson whom Washington rode.
Portraits of George Washington frequently show him astride a gray, and Washington did have one with him during the war - Blueskin. But Nelson was a sorrel – a horse of reddish-brown color with a lighter mane and tail.
In recognition for his service during the Revolutionary War, Washington "retired" Nelson to the fields of Mount Vernon. The steady Nelson lived out the remainder of his life there, having served his master well.