Illinois National Guard

The Old Guard
Tomb of the Unknown
Rifle Volley
21 Gun Salute
Use of Flags
Caparisoned Horse
Wars (Past & Present)
    Military Funeral Home

The silence of a military funeral procession is broken only by the rhythmic clip-clop of the seven handsome horses. Astride four of the horses, soldiers sit ramrod straight and stiff. The horses, heads erect, bodies taut and controlled, seem to imitate the solemn military bearing of the men and women who sit quietly in the saddles. One will notice, during a military funeral that the horses that pull the caisson which bears the body of the veteran are all saddled, but the horses on the left have riders, while the horses on the right do not. This custom evolved from the days when horse-drawn caissons were the primary means of moving artillery ammunition and cannon, and the riderless horses carried provisions. In addition to their duties in military funerals, the Caisson Platoon sometimes participates in historic pageants performed by The Old Guard. One of the older traditions in a full-honor funeral is the caparisoned (riderless) horse. The horse is led behind the caisson, wearing an empty saddle with the rider's boots reversed in the stirrups. This indicates the warrior will never ride again. Tradition allows a caparisoned horse to follow the casket of any Army or Marine Corps officer in the rank of colonel or above. Presidents of our nation, as commanders-in-chief, are given the same honor.