A Horse's Last Act of Service

lelliott19

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1st Sgt. William A. Brown; Stanford’s Mississippi Battery
Jan 2, 1863 Breckinridge’s charge - Battle of Stones River


"The shells seemed to explode amongst us every second, and there was not an instant that a shot did not hiss by. Before I dismounted, my little bay horse had his hind leg nearly torn off by a piece of shell that seemed to burst in six feet of my face. At the order to retire I remounted him and his last act of service was to carry me out of danger. A hundred yards or so from the guns I dismounted and led on after the limbers. … At our former position, I took my bridle and saddle off my wounded horse and put them on a spare horse.

As the faithful animal stood there bleeding and shivering with pain, and I powerless to help him in return for the great service he had rendered me at Shiloh*, I could not (keep from crying) …, and when we drove off and left him, I could not have felt it more keenly had I been leaving a wounded human friend. I never saw him again. I suppose he died near the place I left him.”


Stones River Battlefield archives, courtesy Stanford’s Mississippi Battery, Inc.
http://www.midtneyewitnesses.com/eyewitness-book-series/stones-river/confederate-soldier

*Edit: See post #6 below to learn of the "great service" the Little Bay horse rendered at Shiloh.
 
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lelliott19

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1st Sgt. William A. Brown; Stanford’s Mississippi Battery
Battle of Shiloh

April 6, 1862


“Before we could get the gun limbered, two more of our horses were shot down and it was no longer within our power to save our gun, and in fact we were literally in the midst of the enemy. ...Guns were firing and balls singing on every side. Just as I had settled in the saddle and before my horse had made half a dozen jumps a minnie ball was through the upper part of my thigh cutting the cantle of my saddle before it struck me, then passing through my leg in a downward direction and spending its force against the front of the saddle, it passed down inside my pants and finally rested in my boot, where I, or rather the doctor, found it after we got back to Corinth.

The shock from the wound was very severe; even at the instant of receiving it. ….and was surprised after passing my hand beneath my leg to see if it was broken to find my hand covered with blood. I did not check my horse while making this investigation, but let him “have his own sweet will” which inclined him then to get away from bad company. …..Soon after I had passed our advancing line, I began to turn sick from the wound and thought I must fall from my horse. …Sagt[sic] Duncan rode on with me. He promised to put me back on my horse again should I fall off as I was still very sick, and had to put my arms around my horse’s neck to keep from falling into the hands of the Yankees. That and death were equally balanced. ….At the field hospital I was taken from my horse….”


http://www.nps.gov/stri/learn/historyculture/upload/Brown_W_A_diary_pt3.pdf
 
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