A-Z Blogging Challenge-Buttons!

It’s the second day of the challenge and letter B! There are so many options. I decided to go with buttons!

(Warning it is a bit graphic.) Baron led Sally closer to the campfire where he could see the wound properly. The mare hobbled behind, limping badly, and nudging his back occasionally. When she did, he stopped to stroke her forehead and talk to her before continuing. Even in the dim light, he saw the dark streak down her sorrel leg and the gaping wound across her knee.

Billings already had a bucket of water and a stack of cloths waiting at the fire. He held out his hand to take the mare so Baron could tend her. She needed a surgeon, but he was busy with human patients. Baron pulled his housewife from an inner pocket and unfolded it. Thankfully, he always kept a threaded needle ready. He had good eyes, but it might be hard to thread a needle in the dark even with the firelight. Billings continued to pet Sally and croon to her while Baron washed the knee. Sally sighed and leaned into the man’s shoulder.

Dear Lord. Just a bit more and the shrapnel would have taken her leg off. He sewed a series of exes across the knee, pulling the skin together and tying each one off individually to keep them from unraveling. Billings tugged on Sally’s upper lip, pulling it out gently and letting it go. She stuck her muzzle in his hand so he could do it again. She was taking the whole thing like a trooper, but Baron knew she had to be in great pain.

“Just a little more, gal, then I’ll mix you up some mash with apples.”

Baron searched through the housewife for some sturdy buttons and set four out across his thigh. “Don’t have four that match. You’re not going to be very stylish.” He sewed two buttons above and two below the gash, spacing them out to spread the stress when she walked.

This is a veterinary technique of stitching horses who have wounds on stress areas such as knees, hocks, fetlocks, stifles and was used by the cavalry. Every time the horse moves, it stretches the tissue with the stitches and they often tear out, reopening the wound.

Someone figured out you could sew buttons on either side of the wound to redirect the tension and help keep the stitches in. So, a person might sew up the wound and then sew two buttons parallel to the wound on top and two on the bottom for instance.

Note: A housewife is a sewing kit Civil War soldiers carried.

Mash is grain mixed with hot water to make a kind of porridge for horses.

I’ve included a horse diagram with horse parts labeled.


  1. Julie, you’re always a joy to read.

    So glad you included (very Shakespearesque, by the way) the definition of “housewife” because I never knew that. Figured it wasn’t a typo but couldn’t figure it out. It’s a double bonus to read good writing and learn something at the same time. Credit to you!

  2. John,

    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I almost didn’t do the buttons, but I figured it might be something most people didn’t know. (And probably something most people don’t want to know.)


  3. So heart wrenching. The Civil War took a huge human toll of suffering and death. But I’ve always felt for the horses that shouldered so much and contributed to both sides. I’m surprised that a horses leg can be repaired like that. Thanks for the diagram.
    Hope you’ll stop by and check out my theme, Women in the 1930s.

  4. Lori,

    Thanks so much for stopping by. Horses and mules contributed so much on both sides. I’ve been doing some vignettes on various horse heroes.

    I had a picture of buttons on a wound like that, but figured most people would cringe.

    I’ll be sure and stop by.

  5. Hi Julie, I’m here from the A to Z Challenge.

    I was wondering about the housewife too. I thought maybe it was a little hologram or something that came out of his pocket to do his bidding.

    LuAnn (approx #369 on the list) @ Back Porchervations.
    (and one of co-host AJ Lauer’s #wHooligans)

  6. Hi Julie! I’m blaming Colin for joining in with the A to Z too. Exactly as you wrote yesterday, “What was I thinking??!”
    But I’m loving your blog – well, all of your writing, really. This information about the buttons is fascinating; count me among those who would never have known this but for your post here. Thank you for sharing your knowledge in such a captivating way!

  7. Cerdiwyn!!! Hello. Yes, we’re going to have to mob Colin at the end of the month if anyone has any energy left.

    Thank you so much. The appearance of the blog is off kilter right now due to technical issues, but at least we can comment again.

    You’re never going to look at buttons again are you? Sorry.

    1. Sorry if I implied that what you wrote about buttons was off-putting; it wasn’t – not in the slightest!
      Actually, while I was reading I was keeping an eye out for the ‘graphic’ bit… and got to the end before I realised I’d passed it! I can understand why others may have found it so; but I see the way they used buttons as a clever, practical solution to a distressing problem. Good on them! (Actually, I’ve also noticed since I’ve started writing that there’s a LOT I’ve come to terms with, with regard to concepts I previously would have found squeamish).
      I’m looking forward to C – Z! And yes, let’s mob Colin 🙂

  8. Uhhh… hey, y’all are writing good stuff, so I’m feeling okay about goading you into this challenge! 🙂 I too appreciate the horse diagram, Julie, and the definitions. Interesting snippet of history.

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