Saturday, March 31, 2012

An amusing story -- The Charge of the Mule Brigade

Soldiers on both sides often copied the tunes of popular songs and adapted the words either in parody or to suit their own situations. "Johnny Comes Marching Home" was a popular hymn that was cannibalized thousands of times.

Much in the same way as men tried to liven up their horrible lives with song, there were also a great many poems men composed.

This poem in particular, also recorded for posterity in the annals of John D. Billings, recounts a heroic cavalry charge at midnight by not horses, but mules! And what better way to pay tribute to this bizarre event than a parody of Alfred Tennyson's epic poem Charge of the Light Brigade.

I reproduce the passage from Hardtack & Coffee for your amusement.

"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 they were attacked by cavalry. Some one in the Union army, who knew the circumstances, taking Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" as a basis, composed and circulated the following description of the ludicrous event:--


Half a mile, half a mile,
Half a mile onward,
right through the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.

"Forward the Mule Brigade!
Charge for the Rebs!" they neighed.
Straight for the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.

"Forward the Mule Brigade!"
Was there a mule dismayed?
Not when the long ears felt
All their ropes sundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to make Rebs fly.
On! to the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.

Mules to the right of them,
Mules to the left of them,
Mules behind them
Pawed, neighed and thundered.
Breaking their own confines,
Breaking through Longstreet's lines
Into 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!

Mule 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!

I don't have much to post for the next two weeks or so until the reenacting season begins, so I guess It'll have to be just amusing tidbits and "filler" posts for now.

My sincere apologies.

No comments:

Post a Comment