Bay…or Sorrel?? What Happened to Gen. Kemper?

Sometimes dioramas can lead you to find interesting connections between facts–connections that might otherwise go unnoticed. My research for the Angle during Pickett’s Charge led me to a conclusion that I haven’t seen in any of my reading. Perhaps you have–I would be happy to hear back from you on that!

It all began with accounts that mention General Kemper being mounted on a bay horse and other accounts that mention him on his “mettlesome sorrel.”

“What’s the big deal?” you may ask.

Well, it may sort out where the general was finally wounded. Here we go:

I like horses, and we would need to know which it was if we wanted to portray Gen. Kemper on a diorama. So it puzzled me as to what color horse he really had. After all, back then, I’m sure most if not all of the soldiers would know the difference between a sorrel and a bay:


Sorrel (brown with brown mane)…



…Bay (brown with black mane)

Then I found differing accounts of Gen. Kemper’s wounding. Some placed him near the Codori farm when he was wounded. Others placed him right at the stone wall. A visit to the battlefield shows a big difference between the two locations. The farm is probably 1/3 mile away from the wall.

So here’s my theory: Gen. Kemper started the charge on his sorrel, which fell at the Codori farm. Soldiers saw him (and his horse) go down and then didn’t see him remount a bay (probably a staff officer’s). Other soldiers then saw him on a bay as they neared the wall. Then, Gen. Kemper himself fell wounded up by the stone wall.

This is just a theory from my attempts to reconcile conflicting accounts. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Bay…or Sorrel?? What Happened to Gen. Kemper?

    • "It’s not because I don’t have a routine or a good work ethic or that I’m an ill-disciplined procrastinator" Malaika, I wish I could say the same! In my darker moments I fear "ill-disciplined procrastinator" sums me up completely. Only every now and then I get an idea – or a tight deadline – and suddenly I'm on fire!


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