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smugglers, at from eight to eleven dollars each. But the main source of supply for the Western States, where they are very generally used, for the South, and for the government, during war time, was Kentucky. When the war broke out, efforts were made by Governor Magoffin of that State-or rather by the Legislature, for the Governor was in full sympathy with the Rebels--to have that commonwealth remain neutral. For this reason when the general government attempted to purchase mules there in 1861, they were refused; but in the course of a few weeks the neutrality nonsense was pretty thoroughly knocked out of the authorities, Kentucky took its stand on the side of the A six-mule team. Union, and the United States government began and continued its purchase of mules there in increasing numbers till the close of the war. What were these mules used for? Well, I have related elsewhere that, when the war broke out, thousands of soldiers came pouring into Washington for its defence, a
k out a long stake the size of his arm, returned with the same moderate pace to his muleship, dealt him a stunning blow on the head with the stake, which felled him to the ground. The stake was returned with the same deliberation. The mule lay quiet for a moment, then arose, shook his head, a truce was declared, and driver and mule were at peace and understood each other. Here is another illustration of misplaced confidence. On the road to Harper's Ferry, after the Antietam campaign in 1862, the colored cook of the headquarters of the Sixtieth New York Regiment picked up a large and respectable looking mule, to whom, with a cook's usual foresight and ambition, he attached all the paraphernalia of the cook-house together with his own personal belongings, and settled himself down proudly on his back among them. All went on serenely for a time, the mule apparently accepting the situation with composure, until the Potomac was reached at Harper's Ferry. On arriving in the middle of
October 28th, 1863 AD (search for this): chapter 16
a fact, however, the mules, though tough and hardy, died of disease much as did the horses. Glanders took off a great many, and black tongue, a disease peculiar to them, caused the death of many more. But, with all their outs, they were of invaluable service to the armies, and well deserve the good opinions which came to prevail regarding their many excellent qualities as beasts of burden. Here is an incident of the war in which the mule was the hero of the hour:-- On the night of Oct. 28, 1863, when General Geary's Division of the Twelfth Corps repulsed the attacking forces of Longstreet at Wauhatchie, Tennessee, about two hundred mules, affrighted by the din of battle, rushed in the darkness into the midst of Wade Hampton's Rebel troops, creating something of a panic among them, and causing a portion of them to fall back, supposing that they were at Charge of the mule brigade. tacked by cavalry. Some one in the Union army, who knew the circumstances, taking Tennyson's Char
als. In all seriousness, however, dealing only with the fact, without attempting to prove or deny justification for it, it is undoubtedly true that the mule-drivers, when duly aroused, could produce a deeper cerulean tint in the surrounding atmosphere than any other class of men in the service. The theory has been advanced that if all of these professional m. d.‘s in the trains of the Army of the Potomac could have been put into the trenches around Petersburg and Richmond, in the fall of 1864, and have been safely advanced to within ear-shot of the enemy, then, at a signal, set to swearing simultaneously at their level-worst, the Rebels would either have thrown down their arms and surrendered then and there, or have fled incontinently to the fastnesses of the Blue Ridge. There may have been devout mule-drivers in Sherman's army, but I never saw one east. They may have been pious on taking up this important work. They were certainly impious before laying it down. Nevertheless,
May 12th, 1864 AD (search for this): chapter 16
as no redress or relief to be had until his muleship got ready to move, which was generally after every ounce of his burden had been stripped off and placed on terra firma. When the army was lying in line of battle in such close proximity to the enemy that the ammunition wagons could not safely approach it, two boxes were taken and strapped on a mule, one on each side, to keep his balance true, and thus the troops were supplied when needed. At the terrible battle of Spottsylvania, May 12, 1864, a steady line of pack-mules, loaded with ammunition, filed up the open ravine, opposite the captured salient, for nearly twenty hours, in that way supplying our forces, who were so hotly engaged there. Rations were furnished in the same manner under similar circumstances. But now and then a mule would lie down under his burden, and refuse to budge. Grant says (vol. i. p. 106): I am not aware of ever having used a profane expletive in my life, but I would have the charity to exc
April 5th, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 16
nk m. d.‘s who call heartily sympathize with him, having had a like experience. From what I have stated, it will be seen that the mule would be very unreliable in cavalry service, for in action he would be so wild that if he did not dismount his rider he would carry even the most valiant from the scene of conflict, or, what was just as likely, rush madly into the ranks of the enemy. The same observations would suit equally well as objections to his service with artillery. On the 5th of April, 1865, during the retreat of Lee, we came upon a batch of wagons and a battery of steel guns, of the Armstrong 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 w
would generally come off second best. I have referred to the Black Snake. It was the badge of authority with which the mule-driver enforced his orders. It was the panacea for all the ills to which mule-flesh was heir. It was a common sight to see a six-mule team, when Dismounted. left to itself, get into an entanglement, seeming inextricably mixed, unless it was unharnessed; but the appearance of the driver with his black wand would change the scene as if by magic. As the heel-cord of Achilles was his only vulnerable part, so the ears of the mule seemed to be the development through which his reasoning faculties could be the most quickly and surely reached, and one or two cracks of the whip on or near these little monuments, accompanied by the driver's very expressive ejaculation in the mule tongue, which I can only describe as a kind of cross between an unearthly screech and a groan, had the effect to disentangle them unaided, and make them stand as if at a present to their mast
ch hung over their necks. The driver carried in his right hand his black snake, that is, his black leather whip, which was used with much effect on occasion. When mules were brought to the army they were enclosed in what was called a corral. To this place the driver in quest of a mule must repair to make and take his selection, having the proper authority to do so. I will illustrate how it was done. Here is a figure representing a corral, having on the inside a fence running from A to C. Ad and be are pairs of bars. The driver enters A the yard, mounted, and, having selected the mule he wants, drives him A corral. toward be. The bars at Ad being up, and those at be being down, the mule advances and the bars be are put up behind him. He is now enclosed in the small space indicated by Abde. The mule-driver then mounts the fence, bridles the brute of his choice, lets down the bars at Ad, and takes him out. Why does he bridle him from the fence? Well, because the mule is an unc
Josh Billings (search for this): chapter 16
s forefeet and settling down on his hind ones, as if he had suddenly happened to think of the girl he left behind him, and was debating whether or not to go back after her. It is when the mule strikes such an attitude as this, I suppose, that Josh Billings calls him a stubborn fact. But the driver! Well, if at that moment he was off his guard, he would get off without previous preparation, as a man sometimes sits down on ice, and look at the mule. If, however, he was on the alert, and well ed. Here, with another premonitory blast of his nasal trumpet, the mule once more dumped his load into the rapid rolling river, Dumped into the Potomac. when the cook lost all confidence in mules as beasts of burden, and abandoned him. Josh Billings says somewhere that if he had a mule who would neither kick nor bite he would watch him dreadful cluss till he found out where his malice did lay. This same humorist must have had some experience with the mule, for he has said some very brigh
to the Georgia troops, Stormed the two hundred. Wild all their eyes did glare, Whisked all their tails in air Scattering the chivalry there, While all the world wondered. Not a mule back bestraddled, Yet how they all skedaddled-- Fled every Georgian, Unsabred, unsaddled, Scattered and sundered! How they were routed there By the two hundred! Mules to the right of them, Mules to the left of them, Mules behind them Pawed, neighed, and thundered; Followed by hoof and head Full many a hero fled, Fain in the last ditch dead, Back from an ass's jaw All that was left of them,-- Left by the two hundred. When can their glory fade? Oh, the wild charge they made! All the world wondered. Honor the charge they made! Honor the Mule Brigade, Long-eared two hundred! The following plaint in behalf of this veteran quadruped will close this sketch:-- The Army mule in time of peace. That men are ungrateful can plainly be seen In the case of that mule standing out on the green. His features a
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