Monday, December 10, 2007

A Tribute to The Mules Who Served

The Army Mule The Most Inglorious Veteran of the War

I wanted to share this little article with everybody, it has nothing to due with a particular soldier from Schuylkill, but it is about something that we have held in hi esteem here in the coal fields of Schuylkill the Mule. For me it is a wonderful tribute to a creature that has paid a heavy price in serving us humans, they have worked in our coal fields since the beginning of mining and up until the 1950’s when it became illegal to use the animal in under ground work. These great animals have served our military from the Rev war on up to the use by Special Forces in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact a large percentage of the mules utilized in World War One came from the anthracite coal fields. By taking the mules from the mines it actually put a big burden on the coal production. This article was found in an old National Tribune on 3/18/1889, The Tribune was the voice of the GAR veterans from the Civil War. This tribute was written about the Army mule during the Civil War. And I for one feel the Mule is deserving of all we can give them.

The Army Mule

The unknown, unsung, unpraised, unpromoted, unbreveted, unpensioned hero of the war was the Army Mule. No one is quite too much to prosecute hostilities to the bitter end. No one said less about soldiering or compromising, no one troubled himself less about the slavery question; none gave less opposition to the arming of Negroes. He went in at the very first call and stayed through till after Appomattox. He was always present for duty, that is, except when he managed to eat his own halter. He went on every march and into every fight that his regiment went. He plodded through all the mud, sleet, and snow, and never left the line of march. He never left camp without orders, except when he could get away. He fell on every battlefield, where loyalty struggled with treason and an infinite number of other places beside. He was beaten and startled to death in a thousand circling camps. His bones bleached on every hill side, his lifeless corpse was the “Quartermasters Mile Post” where ever Union armies marched. He was hungry more often than he was well fed, and after straining all day to bring food for others, he has been compelled to make his supper of cottonwood pole, with wagon tongue for desert. It was hard to get along with him, but utterly impossible to get along without him. He had to endure more causes of insult and opprobrium than all the rest of the army put together, and yet he was never known to talk back. As to his kicking back that is another matter. He has heard himself, and all his family to the third and forth generation described in terms of burning insults, yet taken it all with sanity and meekness.
After four years of arduous service for the Union, after enduring perils and hardships beyond the power of the tongue to describe, he was disbanded and sold to a street car company to pass the evening of his days in slavish observance to the tinkle of the conductor’s bell and the lash of an underpaid tough of a driver.
The mule has never had justice done him. Without him the war could not have been carried on a day. He was the corner stone of the fame of Grant, Sherman, Thomas, Meade and Sheridan. Yet he is never mentioned in connection with then. It is only today, after the last mule that took part in the struggle has passed beyond the reach of the shinning pithead and the piercing lash that we begin to really appreciate how much we owe him.
It has been said that any army is like a snake, because it travels on its belly. That picture of the mule represents his day of army usefulness, when he was the sole means of communication over muddy mountainous roads, between the ever hungry front and the plenteous rear. It will bring a flood of recollections to the mind of the veteran on days when six mule team power could not get rations up to him, and of the days when he himself struggled with the poor animals over the awful roads with the labor and weariness of war which made the heart sad.

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