|[ Previous ] [ Next ]|
In addition to his Memoirs, George Hanger penned other books, all of them whimsical and strange. Colonel George Hanger, to All Sportsmen is a rambling collection of advice and opinions on topics ranging from the care of horses to why it was a great loss to Mankind (or, more specifically, male-kind) that there were no women physicians. In the midst of dispensing veterinary folk medicine and hunting stories, George occasionally falls into reminiscences about his time in America. Among the tales are the story of Sir Henry Clinton's attempts to rid his offices of rats, a snippet on how the British Legion cared for their horses -- and this little anecdote. It doesn't add anything significant to the body of Tarleton lore, but it's fun and told in the unbeatable Hanger fashion:
Colonel, now General Tarleton, and myself, were standing a few yards out of a wood, observing the situation of a part of the enemy which we intended to attack. There was a rivulet in the enemy's front, and a mill on it, to which we stood directly with our horses' heads fronting, observing their motions. It was an absolute plain field between us and the mill; not so much as a single bush on it. Our orderly-bugler stood behind us, about three yards, but with his horse's side to our horse's tails. A rifleman passed over the mill-dam, evidently observing two officers, and laid himself down on his belly; for, in such positions, they always lie, to take a good shot at long distance. He took a deliberate and cool shot at my friend, at me, and the bugle-horn man. (I have passed several times over this ground, and ever observed it with the greatest attention; and I can positively assert that the distance he fired from, at us, was full four hundred yards.) Now, observe how well this fellow shot. It was in the month of August, and not a breath of wind was stirring. Colonel Tarleton's horse and mine, I am certain, were not any thing like two feet apart; for we were in close consultation, how we should attack with our troops, which laid 300 yards in the wood, and could not be perceived by the enemy. A rifle-ball passed between him and me: looking directly to the mill, I evidently observed the flash of powder. I directly said to my friend, "I think we had better move, or we shall have two or three of these gentlemen, shortly, amusing themselves at our expense." The words were hardly out of my mouth, when the bugle-horn man, behind us, and directly central, jumped off his horse, and said, "Sir, my horse is shot." The horse staggered, fell down, and died. He was shot directly behind the fore-leg, near to the heart, at least where the great blood-vessels lie, which lead to the heart. He took the saddle and bridle off, went into the wood, and got another horse. We had a number of spare horse, led by negro lads.
Now speaking of this rifleman's shooting, nothing could be better; but, from the climate, he had much in his favour. First, at that time of the year, there was not one breath of wind: secondly, the atmosphere is so much clearer than ours, that he could take a more perfect aim.1
From there, Hanger rambles on for several more pages, discussing the maintenance and usage of rifles, both in war and for hunting. Earlier in the book, he offered another passing snippet concerning the care of military horses:
In the British Legion Cavalry, in America, we had no sore backs; for a blanket, six or eight times doubled, was always laid on the horse's back, under the saddle. All our cavalry, on service, should have a blanket, eight times doubled, under the saddle. It is of great utility; for, with care, you never will have a horse with a sore back; and, at night, the man may draw it from under the saddle, and cover himself with it; thus he will have two blankets to cover himself. [...] The best captain of cavalry, I know, is not he who only fights his troop well in action; but he who has his horses in the best condition, and has the fewest sore backs in his troop. What a laudable example the German hussars, and other cavalry, shew us, in the care of their horses.2
The rest of the book is highly entertaining, but it probably won't ever end up on this site in its entirety since it doesn't offer much in the way of usable reference -- unless one is studying 18th century veterinary folk medicine!
[Thanks to Janie Cheaney and David Kennett, each of whom brought the rifleman snippet to my attention at different times.]
|[ Index ]||[ Previous ] [ Next ]|
1 George Hanger, Colonel George Hanger, to All Sportsmen (London: Printed for the author, 1814), pp123-4. [ back ]
2 Hanger, pp32-33. [ back ]
|Return to the Main Page||Last updated by the Webmaster on January 2, 2011|