May 18, 2008

What's in a Hero's statue?


Why are some war heroes horses statues reared up, and others on all four legs, or the heroes swords are drawn? Do the number of hooves lifted into the air on equestrian statues reveal how the riders died?

Folk wisdom has it that equestrian statues contain a code whereby the rider's fate can be determined by noting how many hooves the horse has raised.

The most common theory is this:

One hoof is raised = the rider was wounded in battle

The hoof code seems to mostly hold true for all statues. However, James Longstreet wasn't wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg yet his horse has one foot raised. Maybe it had an itch?

Two raised hooves / horse is reared back on its hind legs = the rider died in battle

All four hooves on the ground = the rider survived all battles unharmed and passed away by a natural cause.

As far as the sword being drawn or not, It's assumed that it simply symbolizes the charging towards the enemy; a signal for the rest of his troops to follow him into battle. Most likely its up to the sculptor if he wanted to have the sword drawn or not.

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