The snake thing...... and other poison-laden things

Joined
Feb 5, 2017
Messages
2,254
#1
In all the diaries and memoirs from private soldiers to great generals, all talking about coming through bayous and paddling in the Mississippi and other southern rivers, I never hear a THING about reptiles. Even Freemantle in describing his awful journey from the Rio Grande (I think) up to Virginia talks about wading chest high through some horrible place and never, ever are these things mentioned.

Yet, as the war went on, the average Confederate soldier didn't have shoes, never mind protective boots of any kind.

In fact, Grant talking about the Mexican War and all the deserts, etc they crossed never mentioned snakes.

Surely the bayous and riverbanks were loaded with these things. My sister lived for 29 years in Talladega (just retired to Virginia) and I remember 5-years-ago in downtown Talladega a huge, old something or other crawling on the side of the road in the city! It had to be worse 160 years ago.

Being in NH we don't have to worry much about poisonous snakes and certainly northern New England is pretty free from them AND... I'm just not a snake person. I just can't imagine.

So why don't we hear more about all that when these soldiers are crossing *barefoot* through these bayous and along riverbanks? Never even heard about it in surgeons diaries of the time period - treating snake bite.
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Nathanb1

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Dec 31, 2009
Messages
33,681
Location
Smack dab in the heart of Texas
#2
In all the diaries and memoirs from private soldiers to great generals, all talking about coming through bayous and paddling in the Mississippi and other southern rivers, I never hear a THING about reptiles. Even Freemantle in describing his awful journey from the Rio Grande (I think) up to Virginia talks about wading chest high through some horrible place and never, ever are these things mentioned.

Yet, as the war went on, the average Confederate soldier didn't have shoes, never mind protective boots of any kind.

In fact, Grant talking about the Mexican War and all the deserts, etc they crossed never mentioned snakes.

Surely the bayous and riverbanks were loaded with these things. My sister lived for 29 years in Talladega (just retired to Virginia) and I remember 5-years-ago in downtown Talladega a huge, old something or other crawling on the side of the road in the city! It had to be worse 160 years ago.

Being in NH we don't have to worry much about poisonous snakes and certainly northern New England is pretty free from them AND... I'm just not a snake person. I just can't imagine.

So why don't we hear more about all that when these soldiers are crossing *barefoot* through these bayous and along riverbanks? Never even heard about it in surgeons diaries of the time period - treating snake bite.
I did read an account years ago about the Yazoo pass... and big cottonmouths falling onto the decks of gunboats.
Sorry I can't remember where, but it made an impression on me. I remember THOSE from childhood.
 

Jimklag

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Messages
10,719
Location
Chicagoland
#5
In all the diaries and memoirs from private soldiers to great generals, all talking about coming through bayous and paddling in the Mississippi and other southern rivers, I never hear a THING about reptiles. Even Freemantle in describing his awful journey from the Rio Grande (I think) up to Virginia talks about wading chest high through some horrible place and never, ever are these things mentioned.

Yet, as the war went on, the average Confederate soldier didn't have shoes, never mind protective boots of any kind.

In fact, Grant talking about the Mexican War and all the deserts, etc they crossed never mentioned snakes.

Surely the bayous and riverbanks were loaded with these things. My sister lived for 29 years in Talladega (just retired to Virginia) and I remember 5-years-ago in downtown Talladega a huge, old something or other crawling on the side of the road in the city! It had to be worse 160 years ago.

Being in NH we don't have to worry much about poisonous snakes and certainly northern New England is pretty free from them AND... I'm just not a snake person. I just can't imagine.

So why don't we hear more about all that when these soldiers are crossing *barefoot* through these bayous and along riverbanks? Never even heard about it in surgeons diaries of the time period - treating snake bite.
There is a possible explanation. Marching soldiers are very noisy and most snakes are shy and will hide from the noise. My father-in-law, who lived in rural Louisiana, used to have a boom box on his tractor when he mowed the back 40 because he said he didn't want to kill any varmints and the sound of Hank Williams, Jr. at a zillion decibels scared them away. Same principal with armies marching through the woods.
 
Joined
Jun 8, 2013
Messages
6,696
Location
Nebraska
#10
Some of the men around Vicksburg did make some comments about snakes, but I am surprised not to have read more encounters. This is from Theodore Wolbach of the 16th Ohio.

"In scouting around through this country we ran upon many venomous snakes, principally rattlesnakes. On this trip we met with a species that was not so common, the deaf and adder.

Henry White, of Co. H, while resting on an old decayed log, was approached by some of his comrades who playfully rolled the log over, when, to their astonishment, they uncovered two of these venomous creatures directly under where White had been sitting."
 
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Messages
9,197
#11
The snakes were there for sure, and they wouldn't hear the noise of a boom box on a contemporary tractor, but they'd certainly feel the vibration of that approaching tractor or of hundreds of marching feet when soldiers approached. Ticks and spiders are another matter. Ticks carry nasty diseases. Some spiders have horrible venom. I don't like any of these beasts, but I know I can probably give the snakes time to retreat if I thump the ground ahead of me with a stick. I don't know what to say about alligators, except that there aren't any of them in Missouri and that's the way I like it.
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2017
Messages
2,254
#14
I did read an account years ago about the Yazoo pass... and big cottonmouths falling onto the decks of gunboats.
Sorry I can't remember where, but it made an impression on me. I remember THOSE from childhood.
25-years-ago my husband and I were vacationing near Pleasant Hill, Kentucky and we took the rear paddle wheel steamboat trip near the Shaker village there. I was so enjoying the top deck, until the captain said to watch out for snakes being thrown by the paddle wheel onto the deck. I thought he was kidding with the Northerner, until I realized he wasn't.....
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2017
Messages
3,762
Location
West Palm Beach Florida
#16
25-years-ago my husband and I were vacationing near Pleasant Hill, Kentucky and we took the rear paddle wheel steamboat trip near the Shaker village there. I was so enjoying the top deck, until the captain said to watch out for snakes being thrown by the paddle wheel onto the deck. I thought he was kidding with the Northerner, until I realized he wasn't.....
Hi NH Gal, what part of NH are you in? My family is in Wolfeboro.
 
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Messages
357
Location
NC Piedmont
#18
I remember reading an excerpt from a civilian diary during the siege of Vicksburg that
mentioned the large number of Rattlesnakes that were in the caves that were dug into
the hills to escape the shelling. Besides that and one other post on another thread here
that referenced a diary from a solider that mentioned his company seeing a Copperhead
and trying to hunt it down before bivaouc that evening, I'm sure venomous snakes were
something watched out for especially in the swamps in the Carolinas and further South.
Of course Copperheads can show up almost anywhere there is cover and there is prey
for them to eat. I have a German Shepherd that is thirteen years of age and has survived
five Copperhead bites. She got sick each time for a couple of days but she has always pulled
through. I ought to collect her blood and send it to an anti-venom laboratory for study!
I kill at least one Copperhead a year in my yard.
 

JohnW.

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Messages
2,502
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
#20
In all the diaries and memoirs from private soldiers to great generals, all talking about coming through bayous and paddling in the Mississippi and other southern rivers, I never hear a THING about reptiles. Even Freemantle in describing his awful journey from the Rio Grande (I think) up to Virginia talks about wading chest high through some horrible place and never, ever are these things mentioned.

Yet, as the war went on, the average Confederate soldier didn't have shoes, never mind protective boots of any kind.

In fact, Grant talking about the Mexican War and all the deserts, etc they crossed never mentioned snakes.

Surely the bayous and riverbanks were loaded with these things. My sister lived for 29 years in Talladega (just retired to Virginia) and I remember 5-years-ago in downtown Talladega a huge, old something or other crawling on the side of the road in the city! It had to be worse 160 years ago.

Being in NH we don't have to worry much about poisonous snakes and certainly northern New England is pretty free from them AND... I'm just not a snake person. I just can't imagine.

So why don't we hear more about all that when these soldiers are crossing *barefoot* through these bayous and along riverbanks? Never even heard about it in surgeons diaries of the time period - treating snake bite.
I can vouch for Hamilton and Bradley Counties in Tennessee having a fairly robust population of copperheads (I don't mean Peace Democrats, but just as poisonous :D). I too am kinda surprised with all the fighting down there in '63 that you don't read more about surgeons treating snakebite.
 

Similar threads



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top