“At Marengo, twelve hours of battle had left more than 20,000 men, dying and dead. Nobody, of course, counted the crippled and dead horses. Their legs torn from their bodies, they screamed, struggled and died in convulsive agony. Those still with legs kicked in pain. Their whinnying echoed through the night, blending with the groans and screams of the men (…).
There was a small number of vets to help the animals. The profession was still in its infancy, even though the first veterinary school in the world had been founded over thirty years earlier, in Lyons, in 1762. Each regiment received at least one graduate from the much improved veterinary college. Horses were submitted to bleeding, physicking and blistering, administered by unskilled men with old-fashioned, insanitary instruments. They extracted fragments of shot and steel. Wounds were drained and arsenic was given in small doses for various ailments. An army of horses had to be supported by a large number of farriers, vets and grooms. Lameness and sore backs alone put huge numbers out of action. The well-worn adage still held true: no foot, no horse. Badly-fitting saddles caused skin to rupture and bleed. Many troopers were casual about grooming and feeding their horses, let alone attending to their ailments, so sores and ulcers on backs caused an alarming wastage of animals.”
Jill Hamilton. Marengo: The Myth of Napoleon’s Horse.