February 4, 1863
Capt. Downing’s Horsepital.—We have before noticed that Captain Downing, A. Q. M., at this point has started a “hoss hospital” on the Island, under the authority of the Secretary of War. The Captain has obtained authority to gather up all the old dilapidated horses that have been worn out by the armies in West Virginia and cure them up at this point. On Monday night about forty animals supposed to have originally belonged to the equine species arrived in the city from Martinsburg, consigned as patients to the hospital aforesaid. We were yesterday morning invited to look at them as they stood in the vacant lot opposite the Quartermaster’s office. We never before say such a melancholy, ghostly looking lot of skeletons.—The Gothic steed Pegassus as described by Orpheus C. Kerr, was a gay and frisky courser in comparison with the best of these forty scare-crows. Their sides looked like washboards and their ribs can be counted as far as they can be seen. Their backs were scarred and their limbs and bodies were covered with wounds, sores and running corruptions. They have evidently been beaten, driven, ridden, and starved without mercy and “regardless of expense.”—We know that Capt. Downing has made a most astonishing improvement in broken down horses which have heretofore been placed in his charge, but if he succeeds in bringing anything in the shape of a horse out of a single one of the miserable brutes under consideration, he will indeed be a magician as wonderfull [sic] as the late Mons. Houdin who prestidigitated us out of seven dollars and a half.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1863