- Jul 23, 2017
- Southwest Missouri
"I don't know how that is," remarked a colonel who had seen hard service on foot," but I do know that we infantry fellows had a holy contempt of all cavalrymen. At the Battle of Murfreesboro I was badly wounded in the leg and arm, and for days I could scarcely walk. As I was hobbling back to the rear on the third day after the fight, I met my brother mounted. As soon as he saw my condition he got down, helped me up on his horse and told me how to ride out to find the hospital surgeon.
Now, in our brigade, we had a standing reward of a thousand dollars for anybody who would show us a dead cavalryman. I had forgotten all about this when all at once I rode Into a Texas regiment camping and fixing for supper. My arm was in a sling, and from my drooping position it was plain I was wounded. As soon as they saw me one of them yelled out: " 'Run here, boys, run quick, and see the curiosity of the century. Here is a wounded cavalryman!'
"And before I could get on they had surrounded me and proceeded to make life a greater burden. In vain I tried to explain; as far as I went I heard only one yell: "
'Look at the wonder of the century! Here is a real wounded cavalryman. Sonny, how in the world did you ever get that close to a bullet?' and so on. I got off of that horse as soon as I could and never tried to play cavalry again during the war."
Sergeant Matlack, who had been sitting on a stump chewing a cracker, arose. "Will this eminently-intelligent audience take a runnin' jump, and tell me why the fool-catcher don't get them Washington fellers that haven't sense enough to issue long-range guns to cavalry as well as infantry?" "First class in arithmetic gives it up," said half a dozen in chorus.
"Bah," growled the sergeant, " I'm going to sleep, and if any reb comes near enough to get shot and you fellers don't tell me about it, I’ll discharge you in one time and two motions," and he gave a suggestive kick as he stretched himself beside his horse, ..... cautioning that noble animal to take off his shoes before he stepped on him.
Several years ago, at a Confederate reunion, he found himself among a group of interesting talkers—men who had been makers of history In this great struggle. All of them have now joined their comrades who had gone before - and right worthily they went, as their life's record will show. Among that number was Gen. W. H. Jackson, the owner of Belle Meade, then the most famous thoroughbred nursery in America. On his left was the State's chief executive, Governor Turney, or "Old Pete," as the big brained and big framed fellow under the slouch hat was familiarly called by every schoolboy in the State. Other congenial spirits were around, high in social and political circles, drawn by the annual reunion of Confederate veterans.
Some war yarns had passed around and General Jackson, who was a brilliant cavalry leader him self, was explaining how efficient the cavalry service was. The General himself fought through the war and thought that the best horses in the world for cavalry purposes were those with a good dash of thoroughbred in them. Jackson himself rode thoroughbreds all through the war. So did Fitz-Hugh Lee, of Virginia; John H. Morgan, the famous raider, and many others.
"I remember the time I longed for one mighty bad," quietly remarked an Alabama colonel present, as he knocked the ashes off his cigar and smiled at the turn the story was taking. "It was around Vicksburg, in the trenches, and Grant was crowding us day and night.
We lived on raw beef and such dogs as happened 'to stray out of the city, and were begrimed, dirty, half starved and homesick. Right next to us in the trenches was a Tennessee company, whose captain always managed to ride around on a black thoroughbred horse, as handsome a creature as you ever saw, and which he kept slick and fat and carried always—though the Lord only knows where he got his rations from. I watched that fellow and soon caught onto his game. Every time the Yankees would crowd us pretty close, and it looked as if we would have to surrender anyhow In the teeth of such overwhelming numbers, this fellow's horse would get frightened and, in spite of all his owner's endeavors, would break away with him to the rear.
One day the fight got terribly hot, our lines were cut nearly In two, they swarmed over the breastworks, it was a hand-to-hand fight. To add to the demoralization, here came this captain on his black horse, going to the rear by the lines like wild, pulling like Hercules on his horse's mouth to stop him, and shouting back as he flew along: " 'Gentlemen, I can't stop him—he is running away!'
" 'Hould on, Captain,' shouted an Irishman in our line, as he jumped up and waved his cap at the horse and rider, 'Hould on! I'll give you a thousan' dollars to tell me where I can get another one of that breed of horses that you can't hould when he starts to the rear.' "
The Yankees took the shout of laughter that followed Pat's exclamation for the Rebel yell and we got a breathing spell at our end of the line for a couple of hours."