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THOSE DAWGGON ARMY MULES, FORT ORD, 1944 WW2
Article taken from the September 1944, Fort Ord Panorama. DLIFLC & POM Archives
THE DAWGONNE MULES OF FORT ORD
Fort Ord Panorama September 1944
“ A Dawgonne mule is a Fool Until He Dies” says an old song, but the Quartermaster Pack Troop of East Garrison proves that to be a lie…they run the “Jackass Obstacle Course,” as seen in the top photo here…they carry hundreds of pounds of vital supplies in combat areas over rugged terrain. Above, at left, S/Sgt. Charlie A. Wilkerson; Capt. Lase L. Hood, Troop CO; and F/Sgt. Calvin Johnson, take a hurdle together, and in the center shot, Wilkerson takes it by himself. Below, a bunch of mules are talking things over, and the boy in the foreground doesn’t seem to agree…he’s kicking. Above, right, two of the muleskinners greet the animals with a cheery “Good Morning” at the beginning of a day’s work. And below, it’s “chow” for a large number of the animals. And not a chowhound in the lot, either. The fellows standing around behind are waiting their turn to get their share. Mule pack outfits have made a name for themselves in Italy and Burma.
Mules are strange creatures. They’re the hardest working, calmest, easiest-going things on four legs, and at the same time they’re more laughs than a barrel of monkeys. There’s never a dull moment around a gosh darn mule, especially an Army Mule. The boys of a Quartermaster Pack Troop now at East Garrison will vouch for that.
These boys are GI muleskinners and they will tell you that the mule is twice as versatile and at the same time about 10 times as eccentric as the GI Jeep.
Reams of poetry, hundreds of songs, and more than enough odes have been written about the mule. The boys of the pack outfit aren’t in the habit of singing songs or reading poetry to ‘em, but the language they throw in their direction is about twice as colorful and forceful as anything you have ever heard used by the First Sergeant.
Many people have the mistaken idea that since this is a fast-moving, mechanized war, the Army would have not use for the mule. True, he’s slow, and if not handled properly he’s stubborn as the devil. But there are two important campaigns that have already been successful that might not have been finished as yet if it weren’t for that Army ancient called the mule. One of those little campaigns was the deal in Italy, where the boys ran into some rugged mountains. Jeeps, trucks and even the footslogging Infantryman were stopped. The mule pulled us through in that campaign. In many cases he was the only source of supply for many units. The other case was in Burma where General “Uncle Joe” Stilwell called on the mule to carry supplies and ammunition to the front through what had been called “impossible” jungles and mountains. So don’t write the mule off as washed up yet.
This one single troop in East Garrison will be able to carry plenty of equipment and supplies once they hit a combat zone. With their present supply of animals the can carry an estimated 20 tons – and that’s lots of K rations in anybody’s book. Each mule packs 300 pounds, and they can carry that load all day – up and down hills, over narrow, treacherous trails, and through the sweaty jungle. They’ve even known to ford streams too, providing they aren’t too swift. Like one of the guys said, “If you can’t get somewhere, take a mule – you’ll get there.
Fellows in the troop who have been in the mule skinning business longer than they care to remember say that handling a mule is about like handling a youngster. It requires a lot of patience. Another good rule was aptly put by one of the commanders of the mule outfit in Burma not long ago, “You’ve just gotta be smarter than the mule – that’s the whole trick to it,” he explains. Sometimes that’s a rather tough problem, too, for the fellow who under estimates the ugly big-eared rascal is the guy who won’t get anywhere with him. He’s smart – much smarter than he looks.
The mule packers here put the animals through an intensive training schedule that includes just about all the tricks that a circus performer puts his show horses – thru – sans all the pretty form. The mule may not look so good but he gets the job done – goes over the “Jackass Obstacle Course” that includes all sort and sizes of jumps.
There’s only one kind of transportation in the troop; Horsepower. Besides the liberal collections of mules there are also several well-trained saddle horses used as a means of transportation for the officers and first three-graders and as “bell mares.” The bell mares is the led horse of a group of pack mules, and the well trained mule will follow his bell mare to the end of the earth
These boys and their mules showed off their stuff down on the Hunter Liggett Reservation at maneuvers recently. For three or four months they hauled everything from cans of corn to engineers’ supplies. And they worked in some of the roughest terrain in California.
In many respects the Army mule is treated like the ordinary two-legged GI. He has his own kind of chow, he’s issued GI gear called harness, he’s vaccinated for everything under the sun, and all the facts of his Army career are put on his “jackass service record” which is kept alongside the human ones in the personnel office. And, like the other “servicemen” he’ll bitch like hell if he’s not treated right. But if he’s getting plenty of good chow and if his gear is in good shape he will do a good job whenever you put him.
A funny fellow is the GI jackass. The boys of the pack outfit have an excellent motto; “Never predict California weather or the actions of the Army Mule!”
By Sgt. Joe Hinojos, Fort Ord Panorama Newspaper Staff
QUARTMASTER PACK TRAIN
Source: FM 25-7 Pack Transportation, August 1944
The mission of pack transportation is to transport loads on the backs of animals over terrain, which is difficult for or impassable to wheeled, or track laying vehicles. Its success depends largely upon the careful selection and training of personnel and pack animals. The employment of correct packing and march techniques is essential.
PACK TRANSPORTATION ADVANTAGES
1. The principal advantage of pack transportation, and usually the sole reason for its existence, is that it can traverse terrain impassable for vehicular transportation including both motor and animal drawn wagon.
2. Animals sometimes can live off the country 3. In certain situations, because of the small silhouette of its animals and the dispersive capabilities of its organization, pack transportation is less vulnerable than vehicular transportation.
1. The forage requirements of its animals, when forage must be carried by the animals, reduces their pay loads of other cargo so much as to make pack transportation very uneconomical.
2, It is slow, moving 4 and half to 5 miles per hour
1. Pack transportation should be employed in situations where the use of vehicular transport is impracticable, some examples of which are listed below:
a. In mountainous or jungle country and on narrow trails b. In connection with the cross-country supply of troops in combat, especially over shell torn or difficult terrain impassable for vehicular transportation
c. Over terrain temporarily impassable for vehicular transportation as a result of rainy weather
2, The employment of pack transportation usually anticipates the dire need for supplies by troops who cannot be reached by any other means of transportation. In such cases, excessive distances, night travel, extreme privation, and any other difficulties that can be overcome by determined effort should not be permitted to deter pack transportation from reaching its march objective by the time specified. The most economical use of pack transportation, however, is for short distances, beyond the routes practicable for vehicular transportation, where the round trip for the pack animals is not over a day’s march.
Animal Causalities Treatment – In camp, animal casualties are examined and treated at veterinary dispensaries. On the march, veterinary personnel are distributed throughout the column so that the can promptly detect and examine casualties, give them necessary treatment, and determine the dispositions to be made of them.
Severe casualties, which are unable to walk, are collected in ambulances and evacuated to the nearest evacuation hospital. Other casualties which are able to walk are evacuated by marching or by rail or vehicle.
The system of animal replacement must insure the timely arrival of animals when and where needed. Establishments for handling animal replacements are echeloned in depth. They include the corps remount depot when the corps is acting independently, army remount depots, and such other base and advanced remount depots in the communications zone as may be necessary. Animal replacements are forwarded to units by rail, motor, or water transportation, or by marching; movement beyond railhead normally is executed by marching.
There are three distinct types of pack transportation:
1. Cargo pack trains operated by the Quartermaster Corps, pack artillery, infantry, and engineer units using organic means. Loads, generally bulky and heavy are secured to saddles by rope.
2. Artillery combat pack units, using organic means. Loads, such as heavy howitzer parts, instruments, communication equipment and ammunition, as well as regular cargo loads, are secured to the saddles with arches, adapters, and hangers
3. Horse cavalry, using organic means. Loads of reduced weight and bulk are packed in hangers and carriers and so positioned as to enable the animals to maintain equilibrium at the walk, trot, and gallop. Special cargo loads are secured to the saddles with ropes.
Cargo pack trains and artillery combat units use mules. Cavalry may use either mules or horses.
It is essential that pack transportation facilities be so maintained as to be capable of continuous operation. For this work, a skilled personnel is required.
CHARACTERISTICS AND CAPABLITIES
a. Pack transportation provides a reasonably rapid, quiet, and reliable mobility in mountains, jungles, and other terrain unsuitable for vehicular transportation.
b. Pack transportation units are not organized, trained or equipped to operate on roads, highways, deserts, or in deep snow. The physical condition of animals is materially impaired by long rail, truck, or boat trips; consequently, the need for pack transportation should be anticipated sufficiently in advance to permit proper conditioning of the animals prior to their employment in a campaign.
c. Over terrain, which is not mountainous, the pack mule may be expected to travel 20 miles or more per day carrying 250 pounds of payload. (Payload does not include the weight of the saddle and its accessories.) As long as the mules receive proper care and feed, this expectancy of his capability continues indefinitely. In mountainous terrain, the mule is capable of carrying 250 pounds, but the distance should be reduced to 10 or 15 miles per day. Loaded pack mules usually are able to travel anywhere a man can walk without the use of his hands for support.
TRAINING OF PACK TRANSPORTATION UNITS
a. It is imperative that pack transportation units be trained on the terrain over which they are to operate.
b. Mobility of pack transportation depends largely on three factors:
1. Selection and training of quiet, gentle, and manageable animals
2. Ability of personnel to care for and pack the animals so as to obtain the maximum use of them
Physical condition of both men and animals; Training, therefore, should include a carefully planned and executed remount program, extensive practice in packing all types of loads, and marching of the animals under full load over all types of terrain. Conditioning can be acquired only by daily marching of men and animals over varied terrain. Good march discipline, a thorough knowledge of pack transportation, and careful supervision of the march are essential to success.
SELECTION AND TRAINING OF PACK ANIMALS
a. For artillery and quartermaster pack transportation, pack mules are issued as such. Cavalry must select its pack animals from those issued for riding.
b. In general, a pack mule should be from 14 and three quarter hands to 15 and one half hands in height and weigh from 1,000 to 1,200 pounds. He should be compact, stockily built, and have a short neck; short, straight, strong, and well muscled back and loins; low withers and croup; large barrel with deep girth; straight, strong legs; and short pasterns and good feet.
c. In addition to desirable physical proportions, pack animals should be gentle and have friendly dispositions. They should have no fear of man and should be free of vices and vicious habits. They should walk and trot freely and boldly over varied terrain. There should be little movement of the back and a minimum of side swaying of the body while the animal is in motion.
d. The defects of conformation to be avoided in the selection of pack animals are:
1. Withers-too thick, too flat, or too thin
2. Back-too short, too long, swayed, or roached
3. Chest-broad-ribbed, draft type
4. Barrel-excessively large
e. Horses for use under pack are selected from all the horses of the organization. If practicable, all packhorses should have completed basic remount training as described in FM-25-5. When packhorses have been selected and drivers assigned (if the packhorses are to be driven or led by troopers), the horse drivers are selected. It is desirable to pair pack and riding horses so as to insure a smooth-working team.
a. In the training of new pack animals, the principles set forth in FM-5 apply, particularly those, which pertain to the conditioning of animals and to the use of quiet, patient, and persistent methods of instruction. Any system of training that neglects the conditioning or destroys the tranquility of the new pack animal is defective. The mobility of pack transportation in the field depends in a great measure upon the gentleness and willingness of the pack animals.
b. Selection of Trainers - Proper selection of personnel to train new pack animals is extremely important. The men should be selected because of their knowledge and lack of fear of animals. Their personal qualities should include patience, kindliness, and firmness.
1.Fear is one of the animal’s strongest instincts. If allowed to remain the dominant instinct, the animal cannot be trained satisfactorily to do the work demanded of him. Throughout the training period, the goal of all concerned should be gain the confidence of the animals.
2. Rewards for accomplishment are extremely valuable in the gentling process. Patting the neck, rubbing the head, and hand feeding are good aids in gaining the confidence of the animal. The use of whips, twitches, or uncontrolled enthusiasm should not be allowed in the training.
d. Leading – All pack animals must be taught to lead. One method is to lead them alongside well-broken animals. Leading should be at the walk as a daily exercise until new animals lead quietly and have improved sufficiently in condition to allow them to undergo instruction under the saddle. If at first the animal does not lead readily, the use of a haunch rope, a hand offering of grain, or a combination of those expedients, will prove effective in a majority of cases.
e. Riding – All mules should be broken to riding and ridden regularly during training prior to work under the pack. Since most mules’ mouths are tender, bits should not be used during the initial riding period. Reins may be attached to the halter or the hackamore may be used.
f. Standing – Mules should be taught to stand quietly when the rider dismounts and drops his reins to the ground. This can be accomplished as follows: the rider attaches the end of a lair rope to the halter and coils the remainder of the rope on the saddle horn; to bring the mule to the halt, the rider calls “Whoa” drops the split reins to the ground, dismounts quickly and, carrying the coiled lair rope in the hand, moves quietly away from the animal, paying out the rope. He arrests any movement of the animal by a quick tug on the lair rope. This process should be repeated until the mule will stand when the reins are dropped. The lair rope aid is then removed. For further training, the rider, upon dismounting, ties the halter shank to a stake or other object on the ground. This will discourage movement of the animal and cause him to stand even when the rider moves out of his sight.
1. After having been ridden for about 10 days, the animal should be saddled with the packsaddle. For the first few days, the packsaddle should not be loaded. Thereafter, the animal should be packed with a single load, such as a sack of oats, and the load increased progressively until he is carrying a full payload of approximately 200 to 250 pounds.
2. All pack animals should be taught to stand quietly while being saddled and packed. If at first an animal will not stand quietly, the blind should be put in position. The blind is an exceptional aid and should be used only when the need is clearly indicated. The animal must never be moved a single step while blinded.
h. Bell mare – Mules, being hybrid animals, show a definite fondness or affection for a mare and, to a lesser degree, a gelding. A bell mare should be kept with the mules in training at all times. This practice tends to make the mules more docile and easier to handle. A bell is attached to the mare with a neck strap and worn constantly. The mules will associate the sound of the bell with the presence of the mare.
i. Herding –
1. All pack mules must be taught to move quietly in a herd following the bell mare. She always is led at the head of the column by a mounted man. Training in herding may be begun as part of the exercise of the pack animal. Any available or improvised oval shaped track may be used. The bell mare is led around the track, and the pack animals are kept on the move behind her by several drivers. This exercise should be accomplished quietly and, at first, slowly, to avoid exciting the animals. There should be no shouting and cracking of whips. The herd then should be conducted out of the track area as follows:
a. Two or more packers riding at the head of a column to prevent the herd from passing the bell
b. Several packers riding each side of the column to prevent the animals from wandering and to adjust loads when necessary
c. One packer riding at the rear of the column to prevent straggling and undue extension of the column
2. During such practice marches, advantage should be taken of narrow trails and defiles to teach the animals to march in single file without crowding.
3. Because packhorses do not herd as well as mules, they seldom are herded.
j. Training for proper gaits (note; gaits is the rate and manner of moving)
1. The best gaits for pack mules are the walk (approximately 4 miles per hour) and the amble (5 miles or slightly more per hour). Since the trot and gallop usually derange the loads and fatigue pack mules, such gaits seldom are used. Under exceptional circumstances, the trot may be employed for short distances. With average loads, the gallop is taken only in an emergency and for very short distances only. During training periods, the pace of the walk should be extended gradually. Herded pack mules, in their endeavor to keep up with the bell mare, frequently will break into the amble for a few steps and gradually become confirmed in this gait.
2. Packhorses are trained to carry their loads at all of the gaits used in marching and maneuver. The walk and trot are used habitually, but the gallop is used only when the tactical situation makes it expedient to do so.
k. Swimming – Pack animals must be taught to swim boldly and freely. Although they are naturally good swimmers, some animals are afraid of water and will resist entering it. When in the water, such animals fight it and swim very poorly. All animals should be introduced to water quietly, coaxed to wade through shallow water first, the depth being gradually increased until they must swim. The presence of known good swimmers during this training will lend confidence to the green swimmer.
Battle inoculation – During training, pack animals should be mentally conditioned to as many as possible of the sights, noises, and odors common to combat zones. Once the animals become familiar with these sensations, their docility and good conduct in the field will be assured. This mental conditioning, or battle inoculation, must be so conducted that animals will not associate the sights, noises, and odors with harm or pain to themselves. A few specific suggestions are as follows:
1. Animals should be conducted to the vicinity of motor parks while engines of vehicles therein are being warmed up. They should be familiarized with the sounds of vehicle exhausts, metal being pounded against metal, and with the sight of tractors, tanks, and heavy vehicles.
2. Pack animals should become familiar with sounds of weapons firing, locomotive whistles, and low flying aircraft.
3. Cans containing pebbles may be attached to loads during training period. Pack animals must be taught not to fear creaks and rattles. Many of the loads, which they subsequently will be required to carry, will produce odd noises.
4. Pack animals should be subjected to a variety of odors such as iodine, ether, smoke, gasoline, disintegrating flesh, and rotten vegetation.
5. To strengthen the pack animal’s sense of balance (equilibrium), he should be made to cross extremely narrow bridges, fallen trees and ditches. He should be worked on steep narrow trails and corduroy roads over swamps and bogs. Narrow bridges may be simulated by constructing a gang-plank walk, approximately 2 feet wide and initially not to exceed one foot in height, over a pool of water or small stream bed. Subsequently, narrower and higher bridges should be constructed.
6. Pack animals must be able to walk up and down short inclines and, when necessary, take slides confidently and without hesitation.
7. Top load animals should be conditioned under full payloads before being required to carry howitzer loads.
a. There are two standard types of the Phillips packsaddles.
1. The smaller type, the cavalry packsaddle, is used for all cavalry and some infantry loads. It weights 43 pounds (exclusive of breeching, cinches, and breast collar). Pads are 22 by 19 inches.
2. The larger type, the cargo packsaddle, is used for all pack artillery loads; all pack trainloads, and the heavier infantry weapon cargo loads. It weighs 72 pounds (exclusive of breeching and cinches). Pads are 23 by 25 inches.
b. The third type, the Phillips cavalry, modified (China special), is designed especially for smaller pack animals. The saddle, built to carry the same type of load as the larger cargo packsaddle, has the same external measurements as the cavalry packsaddle, but internally it is designed to fit an animal weighing approximately 800 pounds.
PHILLIPS CARGO PACK SADDLE
The saddle, consisting of a metal pack frame with detachable pads, is equipped with specially designed breeching, cinches, and woven pad. With these accessories, it weights approximately 95 pounds.
a. Pads – There are two separate pads attached to each frame. Their primary function is to cushion the weight of the frame and load against the animal’s back. The pads are attached to the frame by means of two bronze lock staples near the top of each pad and by bottom bar pockets in the lower corners. The staples engage two lock staple hooks near the top of the inside of the frame. The bottom bar of the frame fits into the bottom bar pockets of the pads and is secured by bottom bar pocket pins. The outside of back of these pads is of leather reinforced internally with aluminum alloy ribs. There are five hand holes in the back of each pad through which the padding may be quickly adjusted. The bearing surface (part that comes in contact with the animal) of the pad is woven felt, which has considerable stretching and gripping qualities. The pads are stuffed with curled hair, which retains its resiliency indefinitely. The curled hair is kept in place within the pad by means of spaced leather thongs which, passing through the felt bearing surface, are tied on the outside of the leather surface. Thongs may be removed quickly when it is desired to adjust padding. To each lower corner of the pad is attached an aluminum bottom bar pocket, an integral part of which is the footrest. These footrests protect the saddle pads by keeping them off the ground or floor when the saddle is not in use, and also they provide a hook over which to secure the quarter ropes of the hitches used in packing.
b. Frame – The metal frame serves two main purposes. It makes of the saddle a single unit, and at the same time provides an appropriate structure on which to pack all types of loads. The frame consists of steel arches, hanger bars, aluminum side bars, spring steel ribs, and aluminum bottom bars on which are attached three staples and one hitch hook.
1. The arches are made especially strong to support heavy tops loads. There are two holes in each arch proper for attaching the heavy type of arch or the adapter used for carrying top loads. A third hole, in the depression of the arch, facilitates attachment of the light type of load arch.
2. The hanger bars, which connect the arches, give additional stability to the frame and provide a place on which to hook hanger loads.
3. The side bars serves as a backbone for the entire frame and support most of the weight of the side loads.
4. The ribs connect the sidebars with the bottom bars and assist in supporting the weight of the side loads.
5. The bottom bars aids in locking the frame to the pads and lends rigidity to the lower edges o the pad. The staples on the bottom bar are for strapping down hanger loads. The hitch hooks are used for securing the lash rope for the various types of hitches. Ends of the frame are exactly the same, thus making it reversible.
c. Saddle cover – a leather bordered piece of canvas covers the pads of the saddle. The saddle cover protects the pads from rain and wear, keeps the heat of the sun from entering them, and shades the animal’s spinal column.
d. Cinches – The saddle is equipped with two adjustable woven 20-strand cinches. The cinches 20 inches in length may be shortened 2 inches by passing the small D through the bars of the large D, from outside to the belly side, and smoothing out the folds. Further shortening is accomplished by placing a stick or piece of rope through the fold.
e. Cinching device – With each cinch, a cinching device is provided. This device is intended to make possible rapid cinching pressure, and to eliminate the tying and untying of knots. As a field expedient, these devices may be replaced by latigo straps.
f. Breeching – Each saddle is equipped with a breeching designed to prevent the saddle from riding forward on the animal’s back. The breeching functions principally through two holding straps attached to the lower D rings on the rear edge of the saddle. Separate body and croup pieces provide the main bearing surfaces. The stay pieces connects the body pieces to the croup piece and equalizes the pull exerted by the holding straps. The lead-up straps and hold-up straps serve primarily to hold the croup piece and the body piece in their proper positions. Metal buckle covers on these lead-up straps prevent the animal’s tail from being caught in the tongues of the buckles.
g. Woven pad – A woven mohair pad, which readily shapes itself to the animal’s back, serves as a cushion between the saddle pads and the animal’s back, thus eliminating most of the friction occurring there. Leather thongs for tying the pad to the saddle are attached near the front edge.
h. Accessories – Phillips pack saddlery includes several accessories as follows:
1. Blinds for blinding the animal
2. Spare hair bag, an additional supply of curled hair for use in the saddle pads.
3. Tool roll, a complete set of tools for adjusting the saddle pads
4. Spare parts, a set of those parts most frequently needed for repairing the saddle.
PHILLIPS CAVALRY PACK SADDLE
This saddle, with few exceptions, fits the foregoing description of the cargo saddle. It has aluminum alloy arches and hanger bars and is equipped with a breast collar. The pads measure 22 by 19 inches. The saddle, being smaller the cargo type, allows greater freedom of movement. Animals under full pack may work at increased gaits.
PHILLIPS CAVALRY PACK SADDLE, MODIFIED (CHINA SPECIAL)
This saddle has the same outside dimensions as the cavalry pack saddle; however, its pads are much thicker. The arches and hanger bars are made of steel as in the cargo saddle. Equipped with a breast collar, it is suitable for carrying heavy, high-riding, howitzer loads used by pack artillery.
CARE OF SADDLES
Phillips pack saddlery should receive the same care and consideration as that given riding equipment. When in use all exposed parts and bearing surface should be cleaned daily, and the entire saddle completely dismantled and thoroughly cleaned once a week. Packsaddles should not be stacked one on top of another, nor should men be allowed to sit upon them.
PACKER’S SADDLE, FULL RIGGED DESCRIPTON
The packer’s saddle, full-rigged, is issued for riding purposes to personnel of pack units equipped with mules. It is a stock type saddle, full-rigged with two cinches (the front cinch of hair, the rear cinch of cotton). Cinches are connected by a strap and buckle to keep the rear cinch from working too far to the rear. The saddle’s skirt are lined with sheepskin. Stirrup leathers have fenders attached, and are adjusted and secured with leather laces on the inner side. The stirrup is wooden and brassbound. The issue saddle blanket is used as a saddle pad.
POSITION OF SADDLE
The packer’s saddle should be placed on the animal’s back so that the front ends of the saddle bars are approximately 2 or 3 inches in the rear of the shoulder blade. If the saddle is allowed to ride too far to the front, cinch galls usually form rapidly under the front cinch.
a. The stirrups of the packer’s saddle should be so adjusted that when the rider stands in them, with the heels slightly down. There is about 1 inch clearance between his crouch and the seat of the saddle.
b. Cinches (see about for adjustments)
c. Saddle blanket; The saddle blanket is folded as prescribed in paragraph 12, FM 25-5. It is placed on the animal’s back with the front edge about two fingers’ width in front of the rear of the shoulder blade.
Saddling is accomplished as prescribed in paragraph 15, FM 25-5, modified to include the cinching of the rear cinch.
PREPARATION OF CARGO FOR PACKING
In pack units, supplies such as hay, grain, rations, and ammunition, may be wrapped in canvas cargo covers (mantas) and secured to the saddles with ropes. The shape, size, and weight of the cargo determine whether it will be packed on the saddle in one, two, or three bundles. Cargo is wrapped or protection and support. Wrapping is dispensed with only when the cargo is of such nature as to not require protection or support. Loose, miscellaneous items of cargo may be packed in burlap sacks before being wrapped. For articles, which have hard, smooth surfaces, wrapping greatly aids in keeping the ropes of the hitches in place on the load. The equipment used in preparing cargo for packing is the 6-foot canvas cargo cover (manta) and the lair rope. The lair rope is 30 feet long and three-eights inch thick. It has an eye spliced in one end. When used for slinging loads, it is known as a sling rope.
The hitches used in pack units and considered best for the specific loads are indicated as follows:
1. Squaw Hitch, single loads
2. Phillips Cargo Hitch, double box loads
3. Single Diamond Hitch, double loads of normal size and shape.
4. Double Hitch, Odd-shaped double loads
5. Double Diamond Hitch, triple loads
6. Basket hitch, Odd-shaped loads, double loads may be packed by one packer. Effects a low center of gravity.
7. Sweeten Diamond Hitch, loads of normal size and shape. Also triple loads
8. Nagle Hitch, two side loads or a single load.
DUTIES OF THE INDIVIDUAL SOLDIERS
Packer train personnel should be selected from men who like animals and are accustomed to hard work. They must be trained to perform their duties rapidly and skillfully. The packer is an understudy of the cargador and should be able to perform the duties of the cargador in the latter’s absence. The packer’s specific duties are:
1. Train and saddle pack animals
2. Train, saddle, and ride riding animals
3. Care of animals in the field
4. Properly care for and use saddle equipment
5. Prepare cargo into loads for packing
6. Form all hitches used in packing
7. Sling and lash loads
8. Remove loads
9. Tie and splice ropes and cords
The cargador assists the packmaster in all his duties and should be able to perform these duties in the latter’s absence. In addition, he may be the saddler and, as such, is responsible for all repairs normally made by the saddler. For additional information on the duties of the saddler see TM 10-226 and 10-430. The cargador’s specific duties are:
1. Assign pack mules and equipment to the packers
2. Instruct packers as to the type of load for each pack mule
3. Match up cargo to make balanced payloads
4. Maintain strict order and discipline among the packers
5. Require quiet and gentle treatment of pack mules
6. Select areas for cargo piles in bivouac
7. Assist the packmaster in working saddle pads
8. Keep a memorandum of all cargo and equipment under his care, marking and tagging it if necessary.
9. Insure that all pack equipment is properly cared for in bivouac 10. Select areas for saddles in bivouac and remove saddles as the animals are brought to him
11, Pay off (untie and release) mules from the floating picket line and assign saddles and loads as he does so.
DUTY OF THE PACKMASTER
The packmaster is responsible for the presence, care, and maintenance of all pack equipment and animals of his unit. He rides the entire column in order to check all loads and observe the condition of men and animals. In some organizations, he also performs the duties of stable sergeant. The packmaster’s specific duties are:
1. Exercise general supervision over all packing and pack loads and require that loads be properly packed to avoid injury to the animals’ backs.
2. Train personnel under him in the proper method of saddling, adjusting, and packing the packsaddle
3. Require proper care of pack animals at all times
4. Select and assign pack and riding mules
5. Fit all pack saddles
6. Require readjustment of loads whenever necessary
7. Check pack animals for injuries when packsaddles are removed
8. Work and adjust packsaddle pads to maintain fit and to relieve injuries.
9. Require all pack equipment to be kept in good condition
10. Insure that all breakage or damage to the packsaddle is repaired
11. Check animals on the march for signs of distress or weakness and, if necessary, relieve them of loads
12. Assist the train commander in organizing personnel and animals at steam crossings
The train commander is the officer placed in charge of the train. His specific duties are:
1. Assume responsibility for the conduct of the train
2. Train and discipline personnel and assign them appropriate duties
3. Enforce strict care and conditioning of animals
4. Require proper care and maintenance of all pack equipment and cargo under his control
5. Exercise close supervision on the march
6. Enforce measures for proper cover, concealment, and protection against surprise attacks by enemy air or ground forces
7. Obtain information as to the location of the forward echelon
STABLE AND CORRAL FOR PACK TRAIN IN GARRISON
1. In addition to the day corral, a work corral, equipment with saddle and cargo rack, should be provided. The top of the packsaddle rack (rigging rack) should be from 6 to 12 inches above the ground level. Each cargo rack should be large enough to hold about 20 pack animal loads.
2. In warm weather, feed racks should be provided in the day corral
3. In cold weather, the animals should be fed inside
4. Stables should provide, a box stall for the bell mare and mangers with tight bottoms for pack mules. If possible, the mangers should be edged with metal. Doors on the corral side of the stable, they should be fastened open to allow animals’ free access to the stable. Padding up to 5 feet from the floor on all posts and manger and sharp corners should be rounded off and padded.
IN THE FIELD
When a pack unit occupies a semi-permanent, it should build a pole corral, mangers, and feed rack if material is available. If not, tied together on a floating picket line, and should be fed grain on rigging covers.
BIVOUACKING PACK TRAIN
The train commander precedes the train into bivouac and selects areas for the rigging line, the picket line, and the cargo. Upon arrival of the train, the routine is as follows:
1. All packers, except the roundup men, dismount, tie up their riding mules, unload the cargo, and “slack off” cinches.
2. As they are unloaded, mules with lower work numbers are tied near the area designated for the line of packsaddles (rigging). The other mules are tied near the opposite end of the line.
3. When all loads have been removed, the train commander gives the command to unsaddle.
4. If the soil is suitable, all pack and saddle mules are released so that they may roll, thereby resting and massaging their back muscles.
5. Time available prior to watering is used for cleaning equipment or in preparing the camp.
6. Animals are watered as soon as they have cooled off, normally about 45 minutes after arrival at bivouac.
7. After watering, all animals are groomed thoroughly.
8. When the animals have been cared for property, all broken or damaged equipment is repaired and made ready for the next day’s march.
Mules, equipment, and cargo of the pack train are arranged systematically so as to be readily available, day or night. If the situation will permit, saddles are arranged as in the garrison work corral. Cargo is located similarity; riding saddles may be placed on top of the cargo. Saddle and cargo racks need not be provided unless the unit occupies a semi-permanent bivouac. When adequate cover is not available, or greater dispersion is desired, the train may be broken down into smaller units, each arranging its own mules, equipment, and cargo.
SELECTION OF BIVOUAC AREAS
Bivouac areas should be selected with care and foresight so as to obtain the maximum facilities for the comfort of both men and animals. The requirements for such areas are:
1. Concealment from air and ground observation
2. Cover from enemy fire and the elements.
3. An adequate water supply
4. Firm footing, river bottoms, which may flood, and steep hillsides, which provide poor standing for the animals, should not be selected.
5. Good drainage
7. Areas large enough to provide adequate space for dispersion and free from such things as briars and poisonous plants.
When a stream cuts the route of march, and it is desired to bivouac nearby, the crossing should be made prior to establishing the bivouac.
LEADING ANIMALS ON THE MARCH
When pack animals are led, they should be allowed freedom of movement and balance and, at the same time, controlled sufficiently to keep them in their proper places in column. Animals usually are led from the near side; however, when the column is marching so as to expose them to noise, danger, or confusion on the off side, they should be led from the off side.
For leading animals over flat and even terrain, packers grasp the reins in their right hands, 6 inches from the bits, and hold the remainder in their left. This is reversed when leading from the off side. Drivers must not let the animals pull them along. Animals are led at a steady pace and never allowed to walk and trot alternately. The prescribed distance must be maintained constantly; accordion action in the column causes fatigue in the rear elements.
When animals are led through small ditches or ravines, or down short slopes, their heads are held down to keep them from trotting; however, the rate of march must be maintain. The mules should not be allowed to jump over such obstacles as ditches, logs, and boulders. Jumping causes displacement of the load.
When animals are led up steep slopes or over very rugged terrain, the are given their heads as much as possible so as to allow them to seek their own footing and maintain their balance. In all such cases, the driver must stay far enough ahead to keep out of the animal’s way. An allowance of 1 yard of loose rein is the normal minimum. If the terrain is very rough or steep and the driver should fall behind, it is better to drop the reins and let the animal go; he is caught s soon as the obstacles has been passed.
Packers and other personnel not leading animals, march near the flank of the animal to which each is assigned. They watch the adjustment of the load and the saddle, and help keep the animal closed up to his proper place in column. Under no circumstances will personnel hold on to the saddle, breeching, or animal’s tail to assist themselves in walking.
During the training, every effort should be made to condition both men and animals on the type or types of terrain over which they are expected to operate. All men should have a thorough knowledge of how to take care of themselves and their animals, both on the march and in bivouac. During training, marches initially should be short, and then gradually lengthened as the condition of both men and animals improves. Conditioned units must continually maintain marching schedules, at least 3 or 4 marching days per week, in order to be in constant readiness for extensive field service.
The tactical situation may make a certain rate, formation, or timing of march necessary. In the absence of restrictions and with road space available, a march should be conducted in such a formation and at such a rate that it will cause minimum fatigue to men and animals. However, it is important to complete the march and to relieve the animals of their packs at the earliest practicable moment. Excessive rates of march should not be used unless specifically required by the tactical situation.
All personnel should be furnished information concerning the destination, route, distance, rate of march, scheduled halts, and route markings. For definitions of distance, road space, time length, rate, gait of march, and march units, see TM 20-205
Pack units frequently have to cross streams or bodies of water where no bridges exist. Stream crossing methods are a vitally important and should be practiced in training. When herding, the bell mare should be taken across first to encourage timid animals either to swim or ford the stream. Mules and horses can ford fairly deep streams; however, great care should be exercised in fording with loads, because the load makes the animal top heavy and if he loses his footing, he may turn over on his side and drown. Reconnaissance of fords and improvement of footing by advance details are necessary. If the current is swift and the water deep enough to bring pressure against the body of the animal, or if the footing is poor, the loads and saddles should be removed prior to fording. When fording, men should be posted on the down-stream side to prevent animals from getting into dangerous places. Lash ropes, stretched across the stream on either side of the ford, also will assist in keeping animals on the proper course.
Although animals generally are good swimmers, they should be swum while loaded or saddled. Loads make them top-heavy and they may become entangled in the cinches or breeching. In addition, when submerged, the saddle soaks large amounts of water, making it very heavy. Equipment, saddles, and cargo of all types may be ferried by boats or rafts across unfordable bodies of water. A serviceable boat may be made from unit equipment as follow:
1. Unload all saddles and cargo as near the water’s edge as possible. (At this time, all animals should be swum across.)
2. Spread a rigging cover on the ground near the water. Place five packsaddles, end to end, with their footrests on the edge of the cover, and centered so that there will be an equal length of cover at either end. The saddles are lashed firmly together by a lair rope looped through their arches. The saddles then are rolled over as one unit to the center of the canvas.
3. The footrests now are tied together with a lair rope, looping together all adjacent footrests.
4. The rigging cover is lifted until it fits snugly around the outside of the saddle, the ends being folded and placed across the end saddles.
5. The cover is bunched at each footrest and secured in place with a loop in the lair rope. This completes one half of the boat; the second half is constructed in the same manner.
6. Both halves are placed in the water, side by side, and fastened together by looping a rope around their adjacent footrests.
7. A lifting bar, or a strong pole, is placed on the saddles under the folded canvas at each end of the boat. The center bar is lashed securely to the center footrests with one end of a lair rope; the rope now is run to one end of the bar where it is used to secure the bar to the footrest; the rope is passed under the boat to the opposite end of the bar, which again is secured to the footrest.
8. The excess canvas at each end of the boat now is folded back over the saddle pads to provide protection. The boat is complete and with practice, it should not take over 15 minutes to construct such a boat which will support up to 2,500 pounds. With a load of 2,000 pounds, the freeboard will be 6 inches; with a load of 1,500 pounds, 12 inches. The foregoing data apply only to boats made with Phillips cargo saddles.
PICKET LINES FOR FIELD USE
Picket lines for pack units are of two types: the ground picket line, and the raised picket line formed with lash ropes stretched between trees. Both are satisfactory and should be used in training so that men and animals will be accustomed to each. Tying first on one side of the line and then on the other, one animal may be tied every 24 inches. Picket line areas should be level, free from rocks, stumps, undergrowth, and vines, and have natural drainage. If it is necessary to place the picket line on a hillside, the line should run up and down the slope so that animals will have a level place on which to stand. The ground picket line is stretched tight, flush with the ground, and is held in place by two steel pins, one on each end. If the ground is soft, it may be necessary to construct a deadman, Spanish windlass, or similar expedient to keep the stakes from pulling out. The picket line is tightened by means of a pullback. Animals should be tied to this line short enough to prevent them from getting their hind legs over the halter shanks, and long enough to allow them to stand with their heads in a natural position. Animals soon will accustom themselves to this line and stay clear of it.
The raised picket line is formed by stretching lash ropes 4 or 5 feet above the ground between trees. It is tightened with a pullback. Animals should be tied with enough slack in the halter shank to allow them to eat hay off the ground or to lie down, but short enough to prevent them from getting their leg entangled in the rope. A picket line guard should be provided for each section line. It is his duty to see that the animals are properly tied and prevent them from entangling and injuring themselves. And keep hay up under the center of the line and in the absence of other personnel, remove feedbags when the animals have finished eating. Picket lines should be policed daily while the unit is in bivouac. Manure must be disposed of by dispersion (spreading), burning, or composting; depending on how long the unit is to be bivouacked in one location. It is best to move the picket line every few days to allow the old standings to dry.
An organization with good march discipline passes over routes with a maximum of speed and comfort and with a minimum of interference with other troops. It arrives at its destination with its personnel, animals, and materials in the best condition permitted by the situation. Straggling, falling out of column, lounging in the saddle, and failure to keep to the proper side of the road are evidences of poor march discipline.
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