October 29, 1863: The Charge of the Mule Brigade

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The battle of Wauhatchie, featured in a post yesterday which may be read here, is primarily remembered in Civil War lore for a minor incident that occurred during the fight.  The Confederate Hampton Legion, led by General Wade Hampton, of Longstreet’s Corps, apparently was disordered briefly by a stampede of Union mules and that allowed the Union to plug a gap in the battle line.  Union troops waggishly suggested after the fight that the mules be breveted as horses.  Here is the poem by that endlessly prolific author Anonymous:

Half a mile, half a mile,  

Half a mile onward,

Right through the Georgia troops  

Broke the two hundred.

“Forward the Mule Brigade!

  Charge for the Rebs,” they neighed.

Straight for the Georgia troops  

Broke the two hundred.

“Forward the Mule Brigade!”

  Was there a mule dismayed?

Not when their long ears felt  

All their ropes sundered.

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to make Rebs fly.

On! to the Georgia troops  

Broke the two hundred.

Mules to the right of them,

Mules to the left of them,

Mules behind them  

Pawed, neighed, and thundered.

Breaking their own confines

Breaking through Longstreet’s lines

Into the Georgia troops  

Stormed the two hundred.

Wild all their eyes did glare,

Whisked all their tails in air

Scattering the chivalry there,  

While all the world wondered.

Not a mule back bestraddled,

Yet how they all skedaddled  — 

Fled every Georgian,

Unsabred, unsaddled,  

Scattered and sundered!

How they were routed there  

By the two hundred!

Mules to the right of them,

Mules to the left of them,

Mules behind them  

Pawed, neighed, and thundered;

Followed by hoof and head

Full many a hero fled,

Fain in the last ditch dead,

Back from an ass’s jaw

All that was left of them, —  

Left by the two hundred.

When can their glory fade?

Oh, what a wild charge they made!  

All the world wondered.

Honor the charge they made!

Honor the Mule Brigade,

  Long-eared two hundred!

More to explorer

Bad Car

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One Comment

  1. I’ve always loved this story, I think I first read of it in “Hard Tack and Coffee”.
    Since we are one EMP attack from being transported back to the 19th century (or at least the early 20th) I wonder if our military planners have a mule breeding program on tap.

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