The Vagabond – Mike the mule and the annoying Yankees


By Danny Crownover

General W.L. Sibert (pictured at far right), who was the designer and builder of the Panama Canal and one of the greatest engineers of all time, used to tell a story of his family’s experience during the Civil War about running off stock when a detachment of Union soldiers raided in Little Wills Valley.

Sibert’s father, Major W.J. Sibert, served in the Confederate Army from the beginning to the close of the war and was not at home when the raiders came.

All of the stock had been rushed off to the mountains except a two-year-old mule named Mike, an ornery cuss that had never been bridled up to until that time When anybody approached Mike’s stable, he backed up against the door and began kicking.

When the unsuspecting Yankees started to take Mike in tow, he was ready for them. Mike kicked so much and so furiously that one of the Union men remarked, “Let that damned little old mule alone; we don’t want him anyway.”

Mike became locally famous because of this stunt and was recognized as a “soldier” by the Little Wills community. When the dinner horn blew, Mike stopped dead in his tracks and would not budge forward or backward until the gear was stripped from him.

One day at around 9 a.m., several fox hunters were crossing the Sibert’s farm when one of them blew a horn for the dogs. Mike stopped and refused to move, as he knew a dinner horn when he heard one. He was taken to his stable, fed a second breakfast and returned to work.

That was five-year old W.L. Sibert’s first contact with the United States Army, in which he was to distinguish himself in the later years.

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