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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

War Horse Hoofcare: Holy Horseshoeing


Consenvoye is in the northeast corner of France near the Belgian border, in the region of Lorraine. This is where the famous Battle of the Meuse-Argonne was fought. The Meuse-Argonne battle was the largest frontline commitment of troops by the U.S. Army in World War I, and the final offensive of the war.

Was this a German forge or a British forge or French or American? The shape of the anvil suggests that an American farrier was working here.


The trench warfare in this region was legendary. The wet soil couldn't withstand the stress of the war and any advances had to be via roads, bridges, and ramps that had to be engineered and built first. Large artillery couldn't move because the horses couldn't pull through the mud and the temporary structures, like the stick road you see in this photo, couldn't hold their weight.

It looks like the off horse in this team stepped off the little roadway that had been built out of sticks; that's why the near horse is able to stand. I wonder if this horse was able to get out. Many horses were listed as "drowned in mud". 

The battle is long remembered as the costliest ever in US military history: 115,000 Americans were among the 300,000 soldiers on both sides who died there. And then...the war was over.

The church image is in the collection of the New York Public Library. It is courtesy of of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs.

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1 comment:

Jonathan Glen Merritt said...

The use of horses in war is a fascinating and often disturbing topic. Not many people realise that the horse was also the mainstay of the German Army in WWII also, they didn't have the production capacity of the US so it was only the spearhead battalions that were mechanized. Of course the military use of horses these days is mostly ceremonial but it's also a little known fact that the US Marines still have a small training program for horseback insertion of specialist troops in very rough terrain and the Indonesian military, one of the largest and best equipped in the region still has a traditional cavalry detachment primarily for jungle counter insurgency work.