The horse’s original named was Rienzi and served with Sheridan during the Civil War.
Phillip Sheridan, nicknamed “Little Phil” because of his height, rode the horse through the majority of the war. In 1864 Sheridan rode Rienzi from Winchester, Virginia to Cedar Creek, Virginia to stop a surprise attack by the Confederates. This victory prompted poet Thomas Buchanan Read to write Sheridan’s Ride, a poem which made Little Phil famous. The poem’s refrain “Winchester, twenty miles away,” is the reason Rienzi was renamed Winchester.
Little Phil would go on to become the Army’s commanding General in the 1880’s. On his desk he kept a horseshoe from Winchester, his lucky charm, which he used as a paperweight. Winchester’s body is on display at the Museum of American History but the horseshoe has gone missing.