Old Friends in the Stable: Sgt. Tom
Old Friends in the Stable
Sgt. Tom is a 22-year-old former caisson horse at the Ranger Foundation of
Greenbriar Farm in Keedysville, Maryland. He was retired to the farm in June of 2005 from the South Carolina National Guard Caisson Detachment. At 17 hands high and 2400 lbs., he is the largest Ranger horse.
The retirement of Tom to Greenbriar Farm is very fitting. The farm, which is part of the Antietam Battlefield, was the site of about 1,000 caisson horses during the Civil War Battle of Antietam, as seven artillery batteries were positioned there. The Ranger Foundation is honored to be able to provide a peaceful setting to a very deserving caisson horse where so many suffered. Interestingly, this is Tom's second trip to Sharpsburg, as he participated in the reenactment of the Battle of Antietam several years ago.
Sgt. Tom had a long prestigious career as the wheel horse for caisson units in the military. Prior to the South Carolina National Guard, he was part of The Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery in the Caisson Platoon of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment at Ft. Myer, Virginia. He was very well trained and dependable.
One of Tom's distinguished achievements is participating in the burial of the crew of the H. L. Hunley, a submarine lost at sea during the Civil War and discovered in 1995. The vessel sunk in 1864 moments after making history as the first submarine ever to sink a ship in battle. It was found resting on the floor at the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Charleston, SC, well preserved under sand and silt with its eight-member crew intact. After the vessel was raised, the crew was given a final burial with full military honors. Horse drawn caissons led the procession 4 miles through downtown Charleston to Magnolia Cemetery where the first two crews of the Hunley were buried.
Unfortunately Sgt. Tom developed Anhydrosis, which is the inability to sweat. Horses depend heavily on sweating to regulate body temperature. Not being able to work in the heat, Tom was forced to retire. The more northerly climate in Maryland is better suited for him. On hot days he comes into a cool stall with a fan, and his pasture has lots of trees providing plenty of shade.
When it was decided that Tom would be given a medical discharge, The Ranger
Foundation felt a strong call to duty. "He has made a huge contribution to his country," said Foundation President Ann Corcoran.
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