Posted on July 16, 2023

Traveller Plaque on Stables Removed, Grave Marker to Be Replaced

Kamron M. Spivey, W & L Spectator, July 12, 2023

Tourists, visitors, and students will no longer be greeted by a plaque commemorating the last home of Traveller, the horse which served Robert E. Lee during and after the Civil War. The plaque, formerly affixed to the Washington Street wall of the Lee House stable, was removed over the weekend. Pointing out the stable’s significance, it had been an established part of the campus milieu for nearly 100 years.

University officials took down two other plaques across campus over the weekend, with plans to take down another.

The second and third plaque denoted two rooms in Payne Hall: one where President Robert E. Lee took his oath of office in 1865, and the other where his office was from 1865-68, before moving to the newly-constructed chapel.


Traveller, along with two other horses, lived in the stables next to the president’s house from the time it was erected in 1869 until the horse’s death in 1871. Lee himself had passed away in the house one year before.

Every president since Robert E. Lee has lived in the house and used its stables as their garage. Campus tradition dictates that the doors to the stable must remain open for the ghost of Traveller to come and go at will.

The stable plaque was erected on October 3, 1930 by the Mary Custis Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).

The local UDC president opened the dedication ceremony, while the plaque itself was revealed by the children of University President Francis P. Gaines and Professor J.S. Moffatt. (Both children attended and graduated from W&L in the 1940s.) The ceremony concluded with an oral account of Traveller’s funeral and a luncheon.

Traveller — whose skeletal remains had for several decades been on display in multiple campus exhibits — was buried outside Lee Chapel on May 8, 1971. The plaque placed over his grave that day resembles the one erected on the stable in 1930, and it was also placed by the UDC with similar occasion.

The Spectator was unable to determine when the two plaques in Payne Hall were dedicated, though the oath-room plaque appears to be considerably older than the Lee-office plaque.