Seventeen Dead Horses

John Hartwell

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#1
"General Longstreet, alluding to the exaggerated number of horses said to have been killed under several of the most celebrated cavalry commanders engaged in the American Civil War, in a letter to the author of this article, dated Sept. 22, writes: 'Referring to seventeen horses killed in battle ... The seventeen horses can perhaps be accounted for when we reflect that the commander knew little of the power and importance of organization, and that going into the cavalry fights his unorganized forces may have shot his horses instead of the enemy. If he were riding for (Forrest), I doubt if he would have asked credit for seventeen horses killed.'"
Gen. J. G. Wilson, The Outlook magazine, p. 59, January 1897
Ok, which "celebrated cavalry commander" was it who claimed 17 dead horses?
 

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diane

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#2
Take it with a grain of salt because I'm talking out my nose, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was Custer! JO Shelby ran Forrest a close second on dead horses - he had 24 shot out from under him. But Confederates had to get their own horses without reimbursment...which is one reason both Forrest and Shelby were darn good horse thieves. Make the other guy pay!
 

TomP

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#3
Take it with a grain of salt because I'm talking out my nose
I'm doing the same thing here, diane, so maybe you can help me out here. I know I read this somewhere but I can't recall where.

Having returned to civilian life, Forrest was sitting on the porch with an old pal from the war. A young man approached, uninvited, and listened to one of the general's anecdotes. In an attempt to impress he stated he had had 30 horses shot out from under him. In an attempt to hush a braggart, Forrest said he had lost 31; just one off from the number of yankees he had killed. Properly humbled, the young man quietly walked away. The author of the piece noted Forrest had not had nearly so many horses lost, but once NBF made the claim, who would dare question him?

Does this tale ring a bell?
 

diane

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#4
Oh, indeed so, Tom - I just spun that yarn this morning! :laugh: It's actually fact, no tall tale. Some of the veterans were jawing on Forrest's front porch and a young man began boasting of having killed 19 Yankees and having had something like 12 horses shot out from under him - couldn't anybody beat THAT score! He was the roughest, toughest, meanest, orneriest reb ever lived... So one of the men looked over at Forrest, who wasn't saying anything at all, and said, "General, how many horses did you have shot out from under you?" Forrest gazed off in the distance then said, "29. Killed 30 men. I was a horse ahead at the end of the war." Then he glared at the bragger and continued, "But I never wanted to kill anybody except in defense of my life and my country." He then called for a horse and went off with a boy to teach him how to ride - he'd been pretty horrified to find this boy had reached a full ripe age of 7 without knowing that! This kid, whose name I can't recollect at all right now, went on to become a well-known military man and was always proud of the fact that he'd been taught to ride by the Wizard of the Saddle personally.

I believe this story can be found in Wyeth's old bio That Devil Forrest. (Don't think he names the kid.)
 

diane

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#7
By the way, Tom, the number 30 is a real number - you can sort out all the action reports and tally up - yep, 30 that Forrest personally sent off to St Peter. 31 is also correct - the last guy he killed in the war is sometimes the 30th, who was Capt Taylor. But the last guy was actually an unnamed sniper somewhere along the road out of Selma. All Forrest's men wanted was to get shut of Selma as fast as their horses could take them and here's a stubborn Union sniper pinning them down! Deadeye Forrest picked him off after his men couldn't. He was not listed in the reports because there wasn't a need for reports after Selma...
 

John Hartwell

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#8
Take it with a grain of salt because I'm talking out my nose, .....
You know, I've read a lot of stories Longstreet told to someone, somewhere (you find them now and again in period newspapers), and I've come to the conclusion that as he grew older, Old Pete loved to "tell stories." And, some of his tales achieved more "altitude" than others.

He also tailored them to his audience. Whenever he was with his buddy, Dan Sickles, he enthusiastically agreed that by moving his line forward on the 2nd day, Dan had broken up his attack and did, indeed, "save the Union army at Gettysburg." I never heard of him saying that except when he and Sickles were together.
 

Northern Light

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#9
You know, I've read a lot of stories Longstreet told to someone, somewhere (you find them now and again in period newspapers), and I've come to the conclusion that as he grew older, Old Pete loved to "tell stories." And, some of his tales achieved more "altitude" than others.

He also tailored them to his audience. Whenever he was with his buddy, Dan Sickles, he enthusiastically agreed that by moving his line forward on the 2nd day, Dan had broken up his attack and did, indeed, "save the Union army at Gettysburg." I never heard of him saying that except when he and Sickles were together.
In my experience of men, as they get older the stories get better and bigger and longer. I am sure this is not a modern novelty. We need to treat hese story for what they are, stories, and not gospel. The stories are almost always better than the facts, in my opinion.
 

Northern Light

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#12
:bounce:

You have point there . . . and I'm sure Forrest was just as guilty.

But in all fairness, I've seen more than a few women also exaggerate past events the older they become.
I mean . . . the more time passes since said event.
:D
I know, I know, you should hear my mother-in-law. What stories she told me twenty years ago, have grown and changed beyond recognition.
 

Cavalry Charger

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Well, I admit some of my "war stories" I have told the kids have gotten bigger over the years. I think it is part of becoming an "old geezer". lol
I think kids love to hear these larger than life, and sometimes embellished, stories :sneaky:

It feeds their imaginations and, as long as it's only an exaggeration of the original telling, I think everyone will survive in the long run :D
 
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#16
Well, I admit some of my "war stories" I have told the kids have gotten bigger over the years. I think it is part of becoming an "old geezer". lol
Hah !

There's nothing wrong with embellishing 'a tale' . . . when everyone understands that's what it is and it's for entertainment.

But I had an Uncle ( World II Vet that outright lied).
Don't get me wrong, I loved him to death, and he was a character in his own right.

He did return from the War permanently injured.

And he had to walk with crutches from 1944 until his death a few years ago. He always claimed he had been shot in the leg during an amphibious landing somewhere in the South Pacific. Then the truth came out.

He was injured in an accident on his troopship no where near a combat zone.

Seems he was standing underneath a 1000 pound net of potatoes, when the hoist cable snapped.

:rofl:

I'm not laughing at his injuries at all . . . only his story about how he saw the eyes of the Japanese soldier up close . . . before he was shot on the beach.

:laugh:
 
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Cavalry Charger

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#17
Then the truth came out.

He was injured in an accident on his troopship no where near a combat zone.

Seems he was standing underneath a 1000 pound net of potatoes, when the hoist cable snapped.
:laugh:

Sorry, don't mean to laugh at your ancestors injuries, but imagine coming home from a war and telling people you were injured by falling potatoes and not a deadly enemy :confused: I can see why he told this tall tale, but the fact remains he was injured in service of his country :wink:
 

Ole Miss

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#19
In the South we do not tell "Tall Tales" or embellish stories. I should not tell this but oh well here goes.
A man owns a hardware store in Vermont and is having a difficult time in ciphering how much to pay on an invoice so he calls his secretary in and said, "You graduated from Harvard and I need some help. If I were to give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?” The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, “Everything but my earrings.”
I swear it's a true story!
Regards
David
 

Cavalry Charger

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#20
In the South we do not tell "Tall Tales" or embellish stories. I should not tell this but oh well here goes.
A man owns a hardware store in Vermont and is having a difficult time in ciphering how much to pay on an invoice so he calls his secretary in and said, "You graduated from Harvard and I need some help. If I were to give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?” The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, “Everything but my earrings.”
I swear it's a true story!
Regards
David
:rofl::rofl::rofl:
 



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