previous next
[293] pattern, I think, which Sheridan's troopers had cut out of the enemy's retreating trains. The guns had apparently never been used since their arrival from England. The harnesses were of russet leather and equally new; but the battery was drawn by a sorry-looking lot of horses and mules, indiscriminately mingled. My explanation for finding the mules thus tackled was that horses were scarce, and that it was not expected to use the guns at present, but simply to get them off safely; but that if it became necessary to use them they could do so with comparative safety to the mules as the guns were of very long range.

I should have pronounced these particular mules safe anywhere, even under a hot fire, if extreme emaciation had been a sure index of departed strength and nerve in this variety of brute. But that is not mule at all. The next day, at Sailor's Creek, my corps (Second), after a short, sharp contest, made a capture of thirteen flags, three guns, thirteen hundred prisoners, and over two hundred army wagons, with their mules. And such mules! the skinniest and boniest animals that I ever saw still retaining life, I sincerely believe. For a full week they had been on the go, night and day, with rare and brief halts for rest or food. Just before their capture they would seem to have gone down a long hill into a valley, a literal Valley of Humiliation as it proved, for there they were compelled to stay and surrender, either from inability to climb the opposite hill and get away, or else because there was not opportunity for them to do so before our forces came upon them. And yet, in spite of the worn and wasted state of those teams, it is doubtful if their kicking capacity was materially reduced by it.

The question frequently raised among old soldiers is, What became of all the army mules? There are thousands of these men who will take a solemn oath that they never saw a dead mule during the war. They can tell you of the carcasses of horses which dotted the line of march, animals which had fallen out from exhaustion or disease, and left by

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Sailor's Creek (Virginia, United States) (1)
England (United Kingdom) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Philip H. Sheridan (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: