Confederate Private Watkins tells a story about capturing a mule.
“He was not a fast mule, and I soon found out that he thought he knew as much as I did. He was wise in his own conceit…. If I wanted him to go on one side of the road he was sure to be possessed of an equal desire to go on the other side.”
But riding an ornery mule was still better than walking, so “me and mule worried along until we came to a creek. Mule did not desire to cross.”
Nothing Private Watkins did persuaded the mule. However, an artillery unit came along and offered to help. They got a rope and tied one end to the mule and the other to carriage pulled by a team of horses.
“The mule was loath to take to the water. He was no Baptist, and did not believe in immersion, and had his views about crossing streams, but the rope began to tighten, the mule to squeal out his protestations against such villainous proceedings. The rope, however, was stronger than the mule’s ‘no,’ and he was finally prevailed upon by the strength of the rope to cross the creek.”
On the other side the mule “… seemed to be in deep meditation. I got on him again, when all of a sudden he lifted his head, pricked up his ears, began to champ his bit, gave a little squeal, got a little faster, and finally into a gallop and then a run. He seemed all at once to have remembered or to have forgotten something, and was now making up for lost time. With all my pulling and seesawing and strength I could not stop him until he brought up with me at Corinth, Mississippi.”
Watkins tells another story about a mule, only he wasn’t the one riding it this time:
“One fellow, a courier, who had had his horse killed, got on a mule he had captured, and in the last charge, before the final and fatal halt was made, just charged right ahead by his lone self, and the soldiers said, “Just look at that brave man, charging right in the jaws of death.”
He began to seesaw the mule and grit his teeth, and finally yelled out, ‘It arn’t me, boys, it’s this blarsted old mule. Whoa! Whoa!’”
You may think mules are naturally very smart and focus on their own self-preservation, or they are just plain, stupid beasts. But you can’t dispute the fact they are, for sure, very stubborn. And when you think about it, that’s really not such a bad thing.