Anyone who made it past the fifth grade knows the Second Battle of Eunice. You may not remember the particulars, but you certainly know the basics.
On the evening of May 14, 1863 a drunken Union platoon staggered through the Eunice rye fields in search of whiskey and provisions. The platoon was commanded by First Lieutenant Randolph “Pinto” Forde who was tipped off that saws and raw opium were stashed in a local farmhouse and would be bound for Vicksburg the next day.
He was determined to find that stash.
But the “tip” came from our boys in gray who laid in wait for the Union dogs. The Rebels were led by Lt. Beauregard “Cornball” Jackson, half wit cousin to the better known “Stonewall” Jackson who denied having any relation to him. Stonewall saw him as a prankster, a charlatan and certainly not worthy of the Jackson name. But the Lieutenant had one trick up his sleeve that would prove to be tactical genius.
As the Federal troops advanced, they were met by an army of straw men, assembled by Jackson to confuse them. On Jackson’s orders, the straw men were set aflame using the garrison’s considerable cache of rye whiskey. Engulfed in flames, the Union troops fled like cowards, chased by Jackson’s random fire.
Jackson prepared for a counter attack, but it never materialized.
Forde’s men proved incapable of mounting an offensive and chose to sleep off their considerable drunk in the surrounding rye fields. The following day they stumbled in the early light toward a crude camp that later became Disfigure. It’s a tale we’ve heard over and over again, but it still evokes pride in every able-bodied Flubugger.
But there’s a page missing from our history books, a page painstakingly brought to life in the Eunice Civil War Wax Museum. That page is a little known encounter between “Cornball” Jackson and his Platoon Sergeant, Tyler Buford which historians have dubbed, “Buford’s Reproach.”
According to Phillip Reed Chestnut, curator at the Eunice museum, Buford wanted nothing to do with Cornball’s “straw man” plan and refused to move from his powder keg. Tensions escalated when Buford suggested Jackson “set the damn things on fire” himself and that his plans were little more than “pranks.”
The enraged Jackson left with a small group of men and did the impossible, pulling off one of the most creative tactics of the Civil War. Buford tried to undo the damage, at one point offering his beard as a token of remorse, but Cornball would hear none of it. Buford was court martialed on October 18, 1863 and his reproach was hushed up by the Army.
Buford’s Reproach is just one of the incredibly insignificant Civil War scenes recreated at the Eunice Civil War Wax Museum. Others include Pickett’s Tent which documents the confusion when a raccoon made its way into the General’s tent, Sherman’s Last Stand which portrays Sherman standing on one foot to win a bet with a talented underling, and The Road To Appomattox which depicts Gen. Robert E Lee relieving himself on the court house lawn before surrendering his troops.
Take a trip through Flubug history at the Eunice Civil War Wax Museum in Downtown Eunice.
And don’t forget to tell ’em The Bugle sent you!