Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cut Fainting Frank Some Slack

Poor old Franklin Pierce took a lot of flack for fainting in battle during the Mexican War. His detractors failed to mention that a painful injury preceded his loss of consciousness.

To dismiss Pierce as a coward is unfair, in my humble opinion. In his campaign biography of Pierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne excerpted the journal Pierce kept during the war. On July 21, 1847, General Pierce wrote:
Colonel Bonham's horse was shot near me, and I received an escopette ball through the rim of my hat, but without other damage than leaving my head, for a short time, without protection from the sun. The balls spattered like hailstones around us, at the moment the column advanced; and it seems truly wonderful that so few took effect. A large portion of them passed over our heads, and struck between the rear of Colonel Bonham's command and the main body of the brigade, two or three hundred yards behind, with the train; thus verifying what has so often been said by our gallant fellows, within the last forty days, that the nearer you get to these people in fight, the safer.
So we see that Pierce came perilously close to being shot in the head, but took it in stride without fainting or otherwise chickening out.

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