This panel will be at 11:00a.m. on Thursday November 14th, just before lunch. It will be chaired by Marva Felchlin, retired curators from Autry Museum of the American West. Featuring Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Nicole M. Mathwich, and Katrin Boniface, this panel uses a variety of methods to explore equine trade networks. This panel has agreed to allow livetweeting, so if you can’t make it in person be sure to follow the #EqHist2019 tag on Twitter!
Equine Labour – Enslaved Labour: New England and the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World
Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Roger Williams University
From the late seventeenth century through to the end of the eighteenth century, countless New England vessel braved the Atlantic Ocean in a quest for profit by delivering horses to the sugar colonies. This paper will explore how and why Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut emerged as breeding grounds for horses, and how they came to dominate the equine trade to the sugar colonies. Writing in 1732, the anonymous pamphlet, The British empire in America lamented that the British Sugar Colonies “will soon be reduc’d to a Condition too wretched to be name, and an End be put to the British Empire in America.” The pamphleteer was not alone, and others ranging from Members of Parliament to merchants, described how New Englanders undermined the British sugar colonies of Barbados and Jamaica. New England’s role in this controversy was clear; they readily provided the French and Dutch colonies with the one plantation necessity that they could not easily obtain elsewhere: horses. At its nucleus, the trade centred on the ownership and trade in equine bodies and human bodies. The language planters and merchants used to describe their equine and human property was often one and the same. Moreover, the horses were raised by slaves on plantations along Narragansett Bay, and then traded directly for sugar, molasses, and chattel slaves. If the horses survived the
perilous ocean crossing to the Caribbean or South America, the horses then toiled alongside slaves crushing sugar on the plantations. In some instances, slaves only got meat in their diet when a horse died. This paper will centre the relationship between chattel slaves and equine property, linking New England’s economy to the wider currents of transatlantic trade.
The Public Horse Embodied: Requisition, Use, and Replacement of the Military Horse in the Great Sioux War
Nicole M. Mathwich, San Diego State University, and Rae Whitley, Museum of the Horse Soldier
In the 1870s, the U.S. military was engaged with the Dakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes in the Great Sioux War as the U.S. attempted to annex the gold-rich Black Hills from Lakota territory. The U.S. part in this conflict depended heavily on horse movement and availability; however these types of engagements and large distances exacted a heavy toll on mounts. Historians have written extensively about the 7th Cavalry and these conflicts, but no detailed research has investigated the procurement
and experiences of horses, animals which were central to the conflicts. Here, we explore the embodiment of U.S. military supply organization through horses. Using historical records and zooarchaeological and isotopic methods, we examine the remains of a military horse found in Montana
with strong contextual evidence of its participation and death in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Stable isotopes from the tooth carbonate show the horse was foddered for its early adult life and was not reared in Montana. We combine this evidence with historical U.S. military supply records to examine how the U.S. cavalry units obtained mounts and the challenges these animals faced on the northern Plains. We explore the supply system needed to support cavalry during the Plains Indian Wars and use
the horse’s remains to explore horses’ roles in the Plains conflicts. The harsh experiences during the 1870s campaigns fueled the demand within the officer ranks for a proper remount breeding program, veterinary care, and equitation training and shifted the way the U.S. military approached its horses.
Dead Ponies and Some Live Ones, Too: History, Genetics, and Sci-comm Katrin Boniface, University of California-Riverside
This presentation will examine a variety of recent zooarcheological genetic studies and how they fit within the historical records. These studies have the potential to give us a greater understanding of equine breeding and trade routes. Genetics studies and histories looking at these topics often cite each other, but unfortunately most communication between geneticists and historians is publicly mediated through news outlets. Equine History 2019 provides an opportunity to for us to share findings directly.