A Curious Mahone Reference

I came home from the SHA with an armful of cheap books, one of which was a collection of postwar letters by John S. Mosby.  Mosby’s letters are a real gem; he resisted the Lost Cause tenets that assumed the infallibility of Lee and denied the central role that slavery played as a cause of secession.  In a letter dated January 21, 1910 Mosby wrote the following:

You know [William] Mahone rode a mule up to heaven one night & returned before daybreak but nobody but a prophet could do that. (p. 97)

Peter A. Brown, who edited the collection, acknowledges in a footnote that he cannot explain the reference.  Any idea?

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3 comments… add one

  • Sarah Nov 4, 2007

    I wonder if that is a misprint. A Google search for “mule up to heaven” returned the following:
    John S. Mosby to Samuel Chapman Washington, DC, 21 …File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat –
    You know Mahomet rode a mule up to Heaven one night. and returned before daybreak _ but nobody but a Prophet could do that. Yours Truly. Jno: S. Mosby …
    http://www.gilderlehrman.org/search/collection_pdfs/03/92/1/29/03921.29.pdf

    A typed transcription of the whole letter appears to be on that website.

  • Kevin Levin Nov 4, 2007

    Sarah, — It’s the same letter. Mahomet makes more sense given the full sentence, but if so, it points to a sloppy editor. In the end, this has nothing to do with William Mahone? Amazing.

  • Larry Cebula Nov 5, 2007

    Yes, Mahomet, and the creature was not a mule (though I am sure that is what Mosby wrote) but a buraq. According to the infallible Wikipedia, “The Buraq (Arabic: البُراق al-buraaq, meaning lightning; Turkish: Burak), is according to Islamic tradition a creature from the heavens that carried Muhammad from earth to heaven and back during the Isra and Miraj (Night Journey), which is the title of one of the chapters of the Koran.”

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