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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Outwitting Zachary Taylor


Zachary Taylor commanded Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien from 1829 to 1837. His tenure there produced many stories, including this one about a unique way he had of punishing small offenses.

That was a discipline that the men under him called "wooling." It consisted of Col. Taylor simply grabbing a man by both ears and shaking his head while berating him verbally. Many soldiers at the fort experienced a wooling first-hand after stepping out of line.

One day, however, a soldier named Brady bet some comrades that he could avoid being "wooled" by Taylor, even if he was caught red-handed. They took him up on the wager, and before the next inspection Brady took a handful of grease and coated his ears thoroughly with it. Slicked up, he headed out to the parade ground, where he made sure to commit a minor infraction in front of the colonel.

"Taylor rushed at him," recalled a local historian, and "caught him by the ears, but they slipped from his grasp; again and again he attempted to clutch them, but in vain; he could no more hold them than he could hold an eel, and he gave up the effort in disgust."

At first, the triumphant Brady was quite pleased with himself for having evaded the punishment and won his bet. But his pleasure was short-lived -- Col. Taylor simply sentenced him to the guardhouse for punishment instead.





[Source: Jones, B.W. History of Crawford and Richland Counties, Wisconsin (Springfield, IL 1884), page 349]


:: Posted in Curiosities on October 26, 2011
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