Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Civil War Oddities #125

An artillery duel at long distance constituted the first battle of the war. Inside Fort Sumter, eighty-five Federals, who were aided by forty-three civilian workmen, managed to get off numerous shots at installations manned by more than 6,000 secessionists. During the thirty-eight-hour exchange of fire from sixty-nine big guns, more than 3,000 shells, some of them hot shot heated in a furnace, were fired. Not a man among defenders or attackers was killed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Civil War Oddities #124

While the Forty-second New York Regiment was encamped at Kalorama Heights, Virginia, Private Tinker captured a pigeon and made a pet of it. According to the Rebellion Record, the pigeon regularly followed when men of the Tammany regiment moved to another position. “Occasionally flying away at a great distance, it always returned and when weary, would alight on some wagon of the train.

Tinker’s pet reportedly went to Poolesville, Washington, Fort Monroe, and Yorktown. Staying with the regiment throughout the bloody days of the Wilderness, the pigeon is also credited with having been at Antietam and Harpers Ferry.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Civil War Oddities #123

In addition to four-legged pets, officers and men sometimes took a special fancy to feathered creatures.

Men belonging to a unit commanded by Confederate Brig. General Cobb claimed to have taught a rooster to crow when given a signal. At Fredericksburg, reported the Savannah Republic, every time Federals launched an advance the rooster responded to prompting. As a result, “just before our sharp-shooters opened upon them, the rooster’s clear, shrill clarion rang out on the sulphurous air. This strange defiance, while it cheered and amused out boys, fell with a depressing effect upon the ears of the enemy.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Civil War Oddities #122

Harvard Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was the recipient of an unusual gift from an unknown source. Identified as MCZ-570, a jar labeled “Richmond, Virginia, 1862” holds a lizard. How and why the creature was sent from the capital of the Confederacy to Massachusetts during heavy fighting remains a mystery.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Civil War Oddities #121

When there was a lull in the fighting near the Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania, regimental cooks butchered an ox that had wandered into Federal ranks. Because it had accompanied fighting men for several days and was regarded as a pet by the men from New York, some were so furious at the slaughter of the ox that they refused to eat its meat.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Civil War Oddities #120

Confederates belonging to Company B of the Forty-third Mississippi Regiment were the envy of their comrades. From an unknown source they managed to secure a camel and used it to transport baggage of the officer’s mess.

Most horses were afraid of the strange creature, so its driver was under orders to stop just outside the camp/ In a forced march toward Luka, Mississippi, just prior to the battle of Corinth, the camel blundered into the line of march and spooked horses so badly that there was a stampede in which several men were injured.

Members of Company B referred to their curious critter simply as “the camel,” and apparently never conferred a name on it. To them, it seemed just as well when “the camel” was killed by a minie ball during the siege of Vicksburg.