With a foundation horse that was born around the same time as the United States, the Morgan Horse has made important contributions to its nation's history. Morgans made appearances in the Civil War on both sides of the conflict, delivered messages with the Pony Express, served as mounts for the United States cavalry, all the while making a name for itself as a trotting champion. Throughout the years, several Morgans became so famous that their names are still remembered today.
Of course, we can't talk about Morgans without mentioning the famous foundation sire of the breed: Justin Morgan. The colt was actually named Figure by his new owner, Justin Morgan, and the small bay stallion was to work in the fields for Mr. Morgan. But Figure had other plans even though he was smaller than many other horses in Vermont, Figure started out performing all of them, whether it was working in the fields or racing against other horses. Most surprisingly, Figure covered any number of mares in Vermont, and all of his offspring inherited his characteristics, and then passed them on in their own turn, truly beginning a new breed. After Mr. Morgan died, people still talked about "that Justin Morgan horse", as the stallion eventually was called. By the time the third and fourth generations were foaled, interested breeders were gathering the descendants of Justin Morgan to concentrate the new breed.
By the 1850's, Morgans were well-known throughout the United States and making a name for themselves as trotting champions. Black Hawk was well known during the period for his elegant style and speed, but it was one of his offspring that would become even more famous. The most famous trotter of this period was Ethan Allan, the offspring of Black Hawk and without a doubt the fastest trotter of his day. Ethan Allan became so popular that not only did he become a household name, but the popular trotting horse weather vane that can still be seen today was based on his silhouette.
Morgans were also popular mounts on both sides of the Civil War. On the Confederate side, General Stonewall Jackson rode a Morgan named Little Sorel during his campaigns. Two Morgans are distinguished for their service on the Union side. Reinzi, who was also known as Winchester, was the horse ridden by General Philip Sheridan when he famously rallied the Union troops. Reinzi was immortalized by Thomas Buchanan Read in the poem "Sheridan's Ride" and appears in a painting of the same name. Today, a statue of Reinzi and Sheridan can be seen on Sheridan Road in Chicago. General Joshua Chamberlain was riding his Morgan Charlemagne during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 when he won the fight of Little Round Top.
Finally, we have to make special mention of the only horse that survived the famous Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custard's Last Stand. The only horse to survive the conflict was named Comanche, and he was widely believed to have been of Morgan heritage, more specifically a Morgan Mustang mix.