Our stories relating to the one hundred year history of the Kent-Delord House always focus on the family, friends, acquaintances, and visitors. However, there were other inhabitants that contributed to that illustrious history—the animals! The Delord property was a working farm for most of the 19thcentury with the various animals kept on the property essential for the livelihood of the residents. Obviously pigs and chickens were prevalent on the property, but there also were ducks, a milk cow and usually a horse to pull the carriage.
There was one horse that became a celebrity of sorts in Plattsburgh; his name was Zollicoffer.
In 1862 Fannie Delord Hall came to Plattsburgh to care for her ailing grandparents while husband Frank went to serve as Chaplain in the 16th New York Volunteer Infantry in Northern Virginia. As a Chaplain, Frank had to provide his own transportation and equipment to use in his duties at camp. He had been advised to bring “…a good pair of boots with tops to reach the knee, haversack to carry food on the march, three or four of underclothes, and his own saddle.” Frank used a type of saddle designed by Gen. George McClellan and adopted as the standard issue of the US Cavalry. In his journal letters to Fannie, he wrote:
Dec. 3, 1862 Washington, DC
“…So left for Washington at seven. Very pleasant baggage men. Checked my box right away when I told him it was my saddle & charged me no freight; checked it through.”
That left him to purchase a horse when he settled in with the 16thNY Volunteer Regiment encamped at Belle Plain on the shores of the Potomac outside of Washington, D.C.
Belle Plain VA Dec. 6, 1862
“Early in the morning, I went to the Dr. Crandall’s tent & asked him to let me take his horse old Zollicoffer. We had seen a horse in a stable on the way over & I thought I would go back before breakfast & see if it was worth anything & buy it if it was and it could be bought. I had a splendid ride, my first ride on old Zollicoffer. I went over several miles to Col Corceran’s head quarters & saw three horses or at least found them. The last & only one that was worth anything was Col. Corceram’s head quarters. The saddle horse of a Virginian lady but she looked at me very decidedly & said “no, you don’t have my horse if you pay $1200 for it.” So I contented myself with buying two turkies & a chicken, strapping them over my saddle horn & sailing into camp with them, much to the amusement of the officers.”
Dec. 7, 1862
“At breakfast I happened to ask Dr. Crandall, (not supposing that he would sell his horse), happened to ask him what he valued him at. When he said he valued him at $150, I told him at once that I would give him that price for him when to my surprise, a few days afterwards he consented to sell him to me. He said he would not have sold him out of the regiment.
It is a great black horse with strong legs & easy gate & very fully quite sound, & about 6 years old. Just what I want & it seems as if God has very surely provided for me. The horse can outrun any thing in the regiment, is accustomed to the battlefield, don’t wind among the cannon & shells, as he well showed shortly after & is finely trained, reins very well & my rig out, they tell me is complete.”
For the next five months Frank and Zollicoffer were inseparable as Frank made the rounds of hospitals and provided spiritual services to the soldiers. The last major event that the duo was involved in was the Battle of Salem Heights, VA, on May 3, 1863. It was during this battle that Frank and Zollicoffer went onto the battlefield to rescue fallen comrades and bring them back to safety. For this action Rev. Francis B. Hall was awarded the Medal of Honor. Within two weeks of the battle, Frank had mustered out with his unit and returned to civilian life. He did not return alone. He brought both Zollicoffer and his groom, Sam, back to Plattsburgh with him.
As I mentioned earlier, Zollicoffer was somewhat of a celebrity. According to the local paper the horse led every Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) parade up until his death. He might be the only horse in the area (state?) that was eulogized in the paper after his death! Zollicoffer died at age 30 and was buried in the middle of the garden in the rear of the Delord property. The eulogy maintains that “a bed of white flowers grew upon his grave, a spontaneous floral memorial to the noble pet beneath”
Frank Hall had very strong negative feelings toward Gen. McClellan and openly said, “McClellan is a traitor & that the Army of the Potomac was rotten at the corps core.” The incident worried Frank for a short time but soon subsided.
General Felix Zollicoffer was the first Confederate general to die in the Western/Kentucky Campaign, Jan. 19, 1862.
Think about it—here’s Frank Hall, a Union Chaplain riding a horse named after a Confederate general, and using a saddle named after a Union general he despised!
Article commemorating Flag Day in the
Plattsburgh Press RepublicanJune 13, 1944
Excerpt from STORY OF FLAGSTAFF AT KENT DELORD HOUSE
…From the south, Mr. Hall has brought the fine large black horse he had ridden and likewise his Negro groom, Sam. Sam, very black and thin and tall, did not long survive his transplanting to the northland. His room was over the stable but when he became ill he was removed to the house and cared for…On that memorable day (in 1865) when in the length and breadth of our war-worn country, the bells were jubilantly proclaiming the end of the bitter conflict, ‘mid the pealing, Sam’s soul was wafted to his Maker. In Riverside cemetery now rests all that was mortal of the master and Zollicoffer’s groom.
Article eulogizing the horse
Plattsburgh SentinelMay 26, 1899
“He was want to take part in the Decoration day ceremonies and drew the loads of flowers that were used in decorating the graves of dead heroes every year. It was fitting and beautiful, but also had something of the pathetic in it. He was an intelligent horse and did not forget the stirring times of his earlier life. At a strain of martial music, he would prick up his ears, showing evidences of the old patriotic fire. He was only a horse, but a good one who never shirked a duty. He served faithfully in the War of the Rebellion, and carried his master, Rev. F.B. Hall, then chaplain of the brave 16thN. Y. Vols., on his errands of mercy and duty.
How proud and willing he was to do his part in helping decorate the graves of comrades, after the cruel war was over, in the years that followed!
When Zollicoffer died a few years ago, he received honorable burial in the middle of the garden in the rear of his master’s home. It is a pretty and true story, that a bed of white flowers grew upon his grave, a spontaneous floral memorial to the noble pet beneath, who died, aged thirty years.”