Lincoln’s Horse Old Robin

Lincoln's Horse Old Robin

The photograph shows Lincoln’s favorite horse, “Old Bob,” fitted out in Caparison dress, the symbolic garb worn by a rider-less mount in the ancient death procession of warrior leaders. 

The date is May 3, 1865 and the location is in front of Lincoln’s home in Springfield. The image was taken by the firm of Schreiber and Glover, located in Philadelphia. 

To the left stands the Reverend Henry Brown, an African-American minister and long-term friend of the Lincoln family in Springfield. On the right is another local minister, the Reverend William C. Trevan.

In the 2.3 mile trek to Oak Ridge Cemetery, Old Bob will follow directly behind the hearse, being led by Brown. Next in line will be the carriage occupied by Mary Todd Lincoln and son Robert, then only 21 years old, but later a successful lawyer and Secretary of War in 1881. 

Old Bob is sixteen years old when pictured here. Lincoln purchased him in 1853 while practicing law in Springfield. He named him “Old Bob” to honor his son while avoiding confusion with “Young Bob.” He became Lincoln’s driving horse, hitched to a carriage and traveling around town and out “on the circuit” for weeks at a time across the Illinois prairie.

When Lincoln became President in 1860 he sold Old Bob to a drayman named John Flynn, who, by 1865, had put him out to pasture to enjoy his senior years. But when Flynn learned of the funeral plans he brought him to the house for the procession.  After Lincoln is buried and immortalized, Flynn turns down several offers to sell him to various circus owners seeking an “attraction.”

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