Marker Text: Near here, at highest point on the Midland Trail, Gen. Robert E. Lee had headquarters during his campaign in West Virginia in 1861. His famous war horse, "Traveler," was brought to him here from the Andrew Johnston farm in Greenbrier County.
Location: On U.S. Route 60 on the left while traveling eastbound, 2.25 miles west of border with Greenbrier County.
"Traveller is my only companion, I may say my only pleasure. He and I, whenever possible, wander in the mountains and enjoy sweet confidences." Quote from letter written by Robert E. Lee following the Civil War about his affection for his old horse.
At the outbreak of war, Lee was appointed to command all of Virginia's forces, upon the formation of the Confederate States Army, he was named one of its first five full generals.
Lee's first field assignment was commanding Confederate forces in western Virginia (now West Virginia), where he was defeated at the Battle of Cheat Mountain and was widely blamed for Confederate setbacks.
The now famous war-horse called “Traveller" was raised by Mr. Johnston, near the Blue Sulphur Springs, in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Traveller was of the 'Gray Eagle' stock, and, as a colt, took the first premium under the name of 'Jeff Davis' at the Lewisburg fairs for each of the years 1859 and 1860. He was four years old in the spring of 1861. When the Wise legion was encamped on Sewell mountain, opposing the advance of the Federal Army under Rosecranz, in the fall of 1861. Confederate Major Thomas L. Broun of the Third regiment of infantry in that legion, and his brother, Captain Joseph M. Broun, was quartermaster to the same regiment.
The post and plaque in the photo is in Berryville, VA and is north of the Clarke Co. Courthouse.
Major Broun authorized his brother to purchase a good serviceable horse of the best Greenbrier stock for their use during the war. Capt. Broun purchased “Traveller” for $175 in the fall of 1861, from Captain James W. Johnston, son of the Mr. Johnston.
When General Lee took command of the Wise legion and Floyd brigade that were encamped at and near Big Sewell mountains, in the fall of 1861 near this marker. General Lee first saw “Traveller” and took a great fancy to it. He called it his colt, and said that he would use it before the war was over. Whenever General Lee saw Capt. Broun on this horse he had something pleasant to say to him about 'my colt,' as he designated this horse.
Robert E. Lee's horse “Traveller” was about has famous as the Confederate General himself. There is a marker next to a post in Berryville, VA indicating that Traveller was tied to this post while General Lee attended worship in the Episcopal Church across the street.
As the winter approached, the climate in the West Virginia mountains caused Rosecranz's army to abandon its position on Big Sewell and retreat westward. General Lee was thereupon ordered to South Carolina. The Third regiment of the Wise legion was subsequently detached from the army in Western Virginia and ordered to the South Carolina coast, where it was known as the Sixtieth Virginia regiment. Upon seeing Capt. Broun on this horse near Pocotalipo, in South Carolina, General Lee at once recognized the horse and again inquired of him pleasantly about 'his colt.'
Capt. Broun offered General Lee the horse as a gift, which the General promptly declined, and at the same time remarked: “If you will willingly sell me the horse, I will gladly use it for a week or so to learn its qualities.” Thereupon my brother had the horse sent to General Lee's stable. In about a week the horse was returned to my brother, with a note from General Lee stating that the animal suited him, but that he could not longer use so valuable a horse in such times, unless it was his own asked if he could purchase the horse. Capt. Broun then sold the horse to General Lee for $200 in currency, the sum of $25 having been added by General Lee, to make up the depreciation in Confederate currency from September, 1861 to February, 1862.
In photo the post where Traveler tied is on left and church where Lee attended worship is in the background.
In 1868, General Lee wrote to Capt. Broun, stating that this horse now known as Traveller had survived the war and asking for its pedigree. Traveller was not the only horse that General Lee used during the Civil War. He had other horse by the names of “The Roan”, which died after the battle of Malvern Hill, and a mare named, “Lucy Long” as well as a horse named “Ajax.” He began to ride Traveller regularly after the battle of Malvern Hill.
Following the surrender to Union General Grant at Appomattox, Lee rode Traveller to Richmond and then again he rode the 108 miles from Powhatan to Lexington where he became President of Washington and Lee College. The aging gray horse lived a privileged life at Lee's Lexington, Virginia, home. He was allowed to roam in the front yard where the grass was greenest. John Collyer, a student of Lee's, stated that: "General Lee was more demonstrative toward that old companion in battle than he seemed to be in his relationship with men. I have often seen him approach and caress the old horse before entering the house, as though they bore a common grief in their memory of the past." Lee always took "Traveller" to the blacksmith himself, never trusting anyone else. He would talk softly to the big gray, and urged the blacksmith to be patient. "The bursting of bombs around him during the War made him nervous," said Lee.
In October, 1870, Lee lay dying. The doctor tried to rally him saying the "Traveller" was waiting and needed exercise. Lee was buried in the Memorial Chapel at the College. "Traveller" walked at the rear of his master's hearse, his saddle and bridle covered in crepe. Several years after the death of General Lee, 'Traveller,' who was turned out for exercise and grazing during the day, accidentally got a nail in one of his fore-feet; this occasioned lockjaw, from which he died despite of every effort for his relief. He was buried in the grounds of Washington and Lee University and then later exhumed, mounted and placed in a glass case in the University's Memorial Chapel. Together in life, and together in death.