Ulysses S. Grant held two important titles during his lifetime: President of the United States, of course, but prior to the Presidency then-President Lincoln named him General-in-Chief of the entire United States Army. Grant didn’t have as many pets as some other Presidents, but with his strong military background it comes as no surprise that he greatly loved horses.
Grant had several horses during his lifetime, some of whom made history themselves. But one of his horses was unique from the get-go, and that was Butcher Boy. Butcher Boy joined the Grant family after unknowingly impressing the President with his incredible speed as a trotter and pacer. In A Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant, authors Albert Deane Richardson and R. H. Fletcher describe the occasion:
“One day, riding from his office to dinner, he [Grant] noticed a homely little white steed in a cart, pacing so fast that it was quickly out of sight. All he observed was that it was driven by a boy without a coat. The diminutive animal so captivated him that he talked of it continually, until some friends ascertained that it was the property of a butcher, who had bought it for $75…the General [Grant] purchased the white pacer, named it ‘Butcher Boy’, and for many a day might be seen whirling along behind it on the way to his office.”
In 1868, Butcher Boy was accidentally injured. Grant writes to a friend that Butcher Boy strained his ankle when driving during a dark night on muddy roads, and that he fears that Butcher Boy may not fully recover. Grant goes on to say that Butcher Boy will be retired to his farm.
When Butcher Boy was 18 years old, Grant wrote in his personal papers that he gave Butcher Boy to a friend named J.R. Jones to “hack about with in his [Jones’] old age.”