Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Donkey Bomb

"The night before the Confederate victory at Valverde, a sneak attack that might have given the Yankees a victory failed. Captain 'Patty' Graydon, commanding a company of Union volunteers, came up with a novel idea. He asked for two old mules and a few boxes of howitzer shells an then rigged them up with fuses, turning them into 'donkey bombs.' The two armies were encamped on opposite sides of the Rio Grande, and the idea was that Graydon and a few volunteers would swim the river, infiltrate the enemy camp, and set the bomb-carrying mules free near the rebel corral. The Union mules would mix in with the Confederate mules, and the shells would explode, inflicting casualties, and destroying the enemy's supplies. Graydon's request was approved."

"That night the raiders swam the river. They came within 150 yards of the enemy corral. They could smell the rebel mules. They lit the fuses on the howitzer shells, slapped the mules on the rump, and began their retreat. But they had forgotten one important detail: they hadn't briefed the mules on their part of the operation. Seeing their masters leaving, the mules turned and trotted towards them."

"Paddy and his men took off, running barefoot through cactus and catclaw bushes. Naturally, the mules also sped up. The men were running, the fuses were burning, and the mules were gaining (one of nature's laws is that a four-legged mule can run faster than a two-legged man) when KABOOM!, a dozen 24-pound shells exploded, scattering mule parts over a large chunk of New Mexico and scaring the hell out of the soldiers in both camps. Paddy and his footsore Commandos limped back to camp at daybreak."

Story from Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader, "Historical Footnote: The Donkey Bomb", Pg. 317.

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