The Charge of the Mule Brigade

Exercising horses and mules at an Army Remount Service Depot in Egypt. © IWM (Q 15789)
WarMule Sun, 09/03/2014 - 17:07

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!

"The Charge of the Mule Brigade" - a poem written by an anonymous soldier after the battle at Wauhatchie, Tennessee in 1863.

"As Union General John Geary's troops held off the Confederates of Major General James Longstreet, some 200 mules became terrified by the noisy battle and stampeded through the night into the center of Lieutenant General Wade Hampton's southerners. Deciding that this was a cavalry attack, a good number of Hampton's troops panicked and fled."

It is said that this light-hearted escapade inspired the poem based on Alfred Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade".

Source: Civil War Poetry.

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Jenny L. Bates's picture

Wonderful poem! love the 'long-eared two hundred' good as the the spartans of Thermopylae!

Jenny L. Bates's picture

As November 11th approaches I would like to say thank you to this website for all the research and information brought to light. And for all those human and animal who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so those who lived to celebrate can remember with gratefulness in their hearts.


if i write for You
i fear i will bind You to eternity
imagining Your immortality this way
haunts me like diminishing returns,
i can only see You in terms of
unbroken continuity
earned grief grows in a garden of loyalty
and i pick each blossom
like folding the pages of a life
not to be forgotten.
You tell me in silence
Listen for yourself
Every living thing you bring with you
i write in the afterglow
illuminated as i close a breathless book.

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