A Beautiful Glittering Lie
One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

What does 'caisson' mean?

Find out what caisson means. Caisson is explained by J D R Hawkins - author of A Beautiful Glittering Lie

caisson

(pronounced kay-suhn) A two-wheeled cart that carried two ammunition chests, tools, and a spare wheel for artillery pieces.

In my book, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, a "caisson" is referred to as follows:

(Page 224)
Around nine o’clock, the men were moved to outpost duty at a worm-and-hole fence, isolated from the rest of their regiment. Lieutenant Stewart directed them to draw back on their weapons in order to conserve ammunition. The Alabamians did their best to make themselves comfortable, although a drizzle had started, and the constant noise of moving caissons and artillery kept the hungry, exhausted Rebels awake. About an hour later, the sound of tramping boots came toward them. Captain Scruggs, who had replaced Colonel McLemore, gave the order to fire. Every gun exploded in a flash of fire at the same instant. The sounds of retreating footsteps and moaning wounded persisted for several minutes. After awhile, everything grew quiet again. Not even a cricket chirped, which Hiram and Bud agreed was spooky. Hiram sat in silence, straining to hear more Yankees approaching, his heart beating wildly with anticipation, and his breathing erratic.

(Pages 248-249)
Coming across a recent copy of Harpers Weekly at the mercantile, David opened the publication to discover contents within it that alarmed, yet intrigued him. Inside the pages were engravings, copies of photographs that had been taken near Sharpsburg by a photographer named Alexander Gardner. Even though they were drawings, the pictures were disturbing regardless, depicting crumpled corpses slumped together like potato sacks, laid out in front of a small white building, along with broken caissons, dead mules, overturned limbers, and more pictures of Confederate bodies. It seemed to him that there were no deceased Union soldiers lying about in any of the pictures. Although he knew his father wasn’t among the casualties, he was still appalled by the drawings. He had seen photos of corpses post mortem before, but nothing as horrendous as the mangled bodies of slain soldiers left rotting on the ground with dead horses. Setting the newspaper down, he come to the conclusion that his mother had to somehow be prevented from seeing them. It was apparent that the distant battles in Virginia were getting closer all the time, which he found somewhat distressing.

Search result for 'caisson' in A Beautiful Glittering Lie

Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
"...to outpost duty at a worm-and-hole fence, isolated from the rest of their regiment. Lieutenant Stewart directed them to draw back on their weapons in order to conserve ammunition. The men did their best to make themselves comfortable, although a drizzle had started, and the constant noise of moving caissons and artillery kept the hungry, exhausted Rebels awake. About an hour later, the sound of tramping boots came toward them. Captain Scruggs, who had replaced Colonel McLemore, gave the order to fire. Every gun exploded in a flash of fire at the same instant. The sounds of retreating footsteps ..."

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Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
"...pages were engravings, copies of photographs that had been taken near Sharpsburg by a photographer named Alexander Gardner. Even though they were drawings, the pictures were disturbing nevertheless, and depicted crumpled corpses slumped together like potato sacks, laid out in front of a small white building, along with broken caissons, dead mules, overturned limbers, and more pictures of Confederate bodies. It seemed to him that there were no deceased Union soldiers lying about in any of the pictures. Although he knew his father wasn’t among the casualties, he was still appalled by the drawings. He had seen photos of ..."

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