Louisa May Alcott's Army Mules Were People, Too

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Much later, early in the new century, in fact, and in quite another war, another writer paid admiring, if less eloquent, tribute to the noble army mule:

[Philadelphia Inquirer, January 20, 1901]​

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
" A well trained mule can be driven up a tree or down a well ". It really pays to read these old treasures. We're on a mule roll here on CWT and I'm enjoying it hugely, thanks for posting!

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Stanton Allen, in his memoir, Down in Dixie: life in a cavalry regiment in the war days, from the Wilderness to Appomattox (1893), waxed poetic in an elegant


The shades of night were falling fast,​
As through "Virginny" mud-holes passed​
A mule who bore upon his back​
The soldiers' rations of hard tack​
And salt pork!​
"Make way!" the hungry soldiers cried.​
"Make way!" — they surely would have died​
But for the coming of the beast,​
Who brought the boys a royal feast​
From way back!​
"E-yah-hah! yah-hah!" brayed the mule.​
The soldiers cursed him, as a rule,​
But when the grub came they would say:​
"Hurrah! the mule has saved the day.​
God bless him!"​
Then in the thickest of the fight​
The mule was brought both day and night,​
With ammunition in his pack​
To save our boys from falling back​
For cartridges!​
The mule amid the fire and smoke​
Stood firm — sometimes the mule was "croaked”​
By rebel bullet — in that hell;​
He faced the fire and rebel yell​
The years roll on, but strange to say,​
While every dog must have his day,​
The army mule no praise receives.​
He's dying with old age and heaves,​
A veteran!​
A quarter century has gone​
Since Boys in Blue have heard the song​
Of army mules — but all will say.​
The mule helped whip the Boys in Gray-​

Lampasas Bill

Sep 24, 2018
I always enjoyed visiting the mule barn at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. I especially enjoyed the mules in the jumping competition. Traditionally mules were favored as mounts for following hunting dogs. The mule has the ability to jump a fence from a standing start, so when a hunter reached a fence he would dismount, drape a coat or blanket over the fence and lead his mule next to it. The mule would gather his powerful hind legs under him and, with a little urging, spring over the fence from a standing start. That practice is celebrated in the mule jumping competition at the fair, where I have seen mules leap six-foot fences and even higher. Missourians love their mules!


Retired User
Jan 23, 2010
State of Jefferson
Good old Festus, my favorite Gunsmoke character ... aside from Miss Kitty!

Every mule he ever owned was named Ruth ... even the Jacks.

He once made a "Rocking Mule" as a gift for a newborn child. Yep, he named it 'Ruth.'

@diane , your people called him "Afraid of Razor."

I thought it was Afraid of Bath! :laugh: Sure could sing, though. His accent wasn't fake, either - he was from the plains of Colorado.