This fellow, one of the leaders in a 6 mule team harness sports the Federal flag- in Richmond, with Libby tobacco warehouse prison as backdrop.
Best, ever, hand's down delightful passage on animal behavior. Pre- cute kitten memes and video forwards there were books- chunks of paper, packed with words held together by cardboard. Story sandwiches. Louisa My Alcott wrote a sandwich- well, many. Least well known is a thin recipe all about when she nearly died of typhoid, serving as an Army nurse in Washington, DC.
Always observant, vastly tolerant of human frailty of spirit Alcott could write sideways- here her Army Mules are human and Mule, a skewer through one, loving co-inhabitant of a chaotic, war time city with the latter.
From “Hospital Sketches”
" The mules were my especial delight; and an hour’s study of a constant succession of them introduced me to many of their characteristics; for six of these odd little beasts drew each army wagon and went hopping like frogs through the stream of mud that gently rolled along the street. The coquettish mule had small feet, a nicely trimmed tassel of a tail, perked-up ears, and seemed much given to little tosses of the head, affected skips and prances; and, if he wore the bells or were bedizened with a bit of finery, put on as many airs as any belle.
The moral mule was a stout, hard-working creature, always tugging with all his might, often pulling away after the rest had stopped, laboring under the conscientious delusion that food for the entire army depended upon his private exertions. I respected this style of mule; and, had I possessed a juicy cabbage, would have pressed it upon him with thanks for his excellent example. The histrionic mule was a melodramatic quadruped, prone to startling humanity by erratic leaps and wild plunges, much shaking of his stubborn head, and lashing out of his vicious heels; now and then falling flat and apparently dying à la Forrest; a gasp—a squirm—a flop, and so on, till the street was well blocked up, the drivers all swearing like demons in bad hats, and the chief actor’s circulation decidedly quickened by every variety of kick, cuff, jerk, and hauls....... "
Mess cart sketch, from August, 1863
All photos from LoC