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A Novel Military Outfit

A Novel Military Outfit image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

When Frank Pierce was President, Jeff. Davis, then Secretary of War, issued a general invitation to the offlcers of the army who were skillf ui draughtsmen to send in suggestions for the new uniform wliich it had been decided to adopt. One such invitation was sent to each offleer. Lieutenant Derby was very ready with his pen - a really ingenious artist. In reply he sent tothe War Department a design for a new uniform - or rather a peculiar addition to the old uniform - the amendment consisting merely of a ring attached to the seat of the trousers of each private soldier. Each offlcer was to carry instead of a sword, a long pole, with a hook in the end like a shepherd's crook. The pole and the ring enabled the ofcers to keep the pri vates f rem running away in battle. Fugitives could easily be caught by it and brought back. Stragglers could be kept in line. Moreover, the ring would be very useful in the cavalry service to fasten the soldiers to the saddle to prevent them Erom falling off; and in the artillery service the rings were to be used for draught purposes in the absence of mules. These speciflcations were aeoompanied by the most grotesque' pictures representinji' offleers hauling back cowirdly recruits by the serviceable ring, cavalry securely fastened to the ;op of their steeds by the same device, and artillerymen harnessed to cannon, drawing them through naiTow deüles, or up an acclirity inaccessible to nmles, jy cables attached to the posterior Utaples. On another sheet of bristol-board was in illustration in gaudy colors of 'Derby's Itotary Mule Ilowitzer," accompanied by the following descripion : "Upon the back of a young and vigilant mulé, strap a mountain howtzer, the muzzle pointing towards the ;ail. A similar piece of ordnance is 'astened with iron banda under the animal's abdomen, the muzzle aimed between his forelegs to ;he front. There are four gunners, two to each piece, and a "persuader," is he is called, whose business it is to ;ersuade the mulo to stand lirin and iiot retreat, by stuftiing him with oats, after each discharge, with a tin sausag(i-stuffer. When the Indians, or other legitimate game, appear in view, the mule is, by u crank movement on the tail, limbered to the front. It don't ïiKike any difference which way the mule faces (and here is where my patent comes in) one gun is always pointïng towards the front. At the command 'Fire!' the top howitzer is discharged. The recoil throws the mule on his back, bringing the second gun mto position. This is discharged, which suddenly throws the mule to his 'eet again, when the gunners swab out ;he muie's throat with hay and reload." JChe accompanying illustrations (in nwn, red, blue and gold, are still on ile in the War Department), representng the rotary mule in several different attitudes, looking contented and happy all the time. This was feit to be outrageous dacity on the part of a subaltern. ïhe clerks in the War Department laughed at the funny letter immoderately, but their superiors looked serious. Jefferson Davis, the head of the Department, was terribly indignant, and he resolved to defend liis wounded dignity. Charges and speciflcations were drawn up against Lieutenant Derby, and the oflicers were actually ïiamed f or his court-martial, when William L. Marcy, Secretary of State, a man of more sense and self-poise, said to the irate Seeretary: "ïïow, look liere, General Davis; don't do it. This Derby lias undoubtedly a superfloua development of humoi-. But he is shrewd and ingenious, and really afine diaughtsman. He has valuable qualities. You can organize a court that will convict him, but you will be a butt of ridicule all your life. Better file the suggestions of the crook-and-ring and the lively rotary mule and say nothing." And he did.


Old News
Michigan Argus