The Doctor, The Stallion and the Jack

Transcribed by Larry Stevens

Wilbur Hinman, tells this story of the Tullahoma Campaign of 1863 in Tennessee: "On one of those scurrying trips between Hillsboro and Pelham occurred the incident of the doctor, the stallion, and the jack - famous in the annals of the Sixty-Fourth Ohio Infantry. Surgeon Abraham McMahon rode a spirited iron-gray stallion, of which he was very proud. On the day in question the regiment came to a halt in the edge of a grove, in which was a log stable. Near the latter was a fine, large 'jack,' which stood with its long ears erect, looking defiantly at the Yankees who had invaded his bailiwick. The surgeon thought he would have a little diversion, and at the same time make some fun for the boys. Tickling the flanks of his horse with his spurs, he charged upon the jack at full speed, bent on putting the long-eared animal to flight. But the dispenser of blue-mass and quinine had reckoned without his host; for that jack developed a quality and quantity of 'sand' that amazed him. The jack stood motionless, calmly viewing the scene, until the stallion was within a few paces. Then, as quick as thought, he threw back his ears, and with an open mouth and outstretched neck, started upon a counter-charge, braying as only a jackass can.
The doctor and his snorting charger were unanimous in reaching the instant conclusion that they had waked up the wrong passenger. The horse wheeled about, barely in time to escape the teeth of his adversary, and started for the rear at a mad gallop, in full retreat, closely pursued by the bawling jack. Both horse and rider were in a panic. They flashed along the front of the regiment, while the jack, with head up and tail flying, followed like an avenger, the very incarnation of the southern Confederacy. The men fairly yelled with delight, while many, who had not the fear of shoulder-straps before their eyes, ventured to remind the doctor, 'Here's yer mule!' His scheme to make a little sport was pre- eminently successful, but not just in the manner he had planned. The doctor was rescued from his peril by the presence of mind - and body - of a dozen soldiers, who, with fixed bayonets, closed in behind the horse as he shot past, and stood firmly at the position of 'guard against cavalry.' The dauntless jack dashed upon them. A bayonet was jabbed into his head and broken off, but he kept on, driving everything before him. The men broke to escape his teeth and heels. Then the victorious brute, with a contemptuous glance at the fleeing horse and rider, came down to 'common time' and, with the broken bayonet protruding from his head, returned to the position occupied at the beginning of the fracas. It goes without saying that the valiant doctor was often thereafter rallied on his exploit with the jack. How the officer who was responsible for it accounted upon his quarterly return for that broken bayonet, does not appear - probably 'lost in action.' "

From: The Story of the Sherman Brigade
By : Wilbur F. Hinman
Publisher: Press of the Daily Review Alliance Ohio 1897

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Last updated September 1 1995