The bones of a revered Civil War veteran were buried Sunday on the parade ground at Virginia Military Institute as a fife and drum corps played “Dixie” and re-enactors fired a deafening salute with black-powder rifles.
His name was Little Sorrell, the scruffy, potbellied horse that Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson rode during the Shenandoah Valley campaign.
Nearly 400 people turned out for the ceremony.
In the decade before he died, and in the subsequent century, Little Sorrell and his remains were often treated with little dignity.
While he lived at the VMI in the 1880s, visitors would pull off a snippet of hair as a souvenir, leaving him with a stunted tail and a fear of strangers.
The skeleton of Little Sorrell stood in a biology class at VMI for about 40 years until a new science building was completed in 1989. The skeleton was then taken apart and the bones crammed in boxes at the VMI museum, where the stuffed hide of the horse, saddled and bridled, has been exhibited since 1948.
Jackson loved Little Sorrel, whom he also called Fancy, because the horse was a tireless campaigner, sometimes carrying the general 40 miles in a day, and he was fearless in the heat of battle, only rarely spooked by gunfire.
Little Sorrel’s cremated remains were buried at the base of his master’s bronze statue.