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Wolf and Warhorse!

Wolf and warhorse

“Pvt. Chester Arthur Burnett, Picket line Troop G, 9th Cavalry (colored) from Aberdine [sic], Mississippi, cleaning frog of horse, while Staff Sgt. Columbus Rudisal, Goffney, S.C., looks on. Sgt. Rudisal is directing Troop G, 9th Cavalry, 4th Brigade. Sept. 12, 1941.”

Thus reads the caption next to a photo of legendary bluesman Howlin’ Wolf that we recently stumbled across on a U.S. army history web site. This photo has apparently been on the Internet for several years, and we’re the first people to notice that it includes Howlin’ Wolf.

Amazingly, this is one of the earliest photos of Howlin’ Wolf ever taken, long before he was world-famous as a blues singer. In the photo, Wolf is cleaning the frog of a horse’s hoof. That’s the V-shaped, relatively soft part of a horse’s hoof, which can make the horse lame if a pebble, stick, or burr gets embedded in it.

The photo was taken while Wolf was a cavalryman during the Louisiana Maneuvers, a series of mock battles instigated by general George Marshall and led by generals George Patton, Omar Bradley, Mark Clark, and soon-to-be general Dwight Eisenhower. Patton perfected his tank maneuvers for World War II here, saying, “If you could take these tanks through Louisiana, you could take them through hell.”

The maneuvers were called the “Big One” because they involved more than 350,000 men in the largest military exercises ever held in the U.S. It was the last time the U.S. military took the cavalry seriously as a weapon of war.

Not only that, but the 9th Cavalry Regiment with which Wolf served was one of the original "Buffalo Soldier" units that was famous in the 19th century. So Wolf was one of the last U.S. cavalrymen and one of the last Buffalo Soldiers, all at the age of 31.

To see where we found this photo, visit this page and see the fifth photo from the bottom:

To read more about the Lousiana Maneuvers, visit this page:

Read “Moanin’ at Midnight” —the first and only biography of the great Howlin’ Wolf —a Blues Hall of Fame inductee as “a classic of blues literature”!

Click to read about the first biography of Howlin’ Wolf!

Answers almost every who, what, and why about the blues giant.” - National Public Radio

“An insightful—and long overdue—look at an utterly unique and influential performer.”- The Houston Chronicle

“A superb biography of the bluesman Sam Phillips thought could have changed rock ’n’ roll history.”- Mojo magazine

Read more book reviews here!

Click to hear a story on NPR about the Howlin’ Wolf biography. (Click the Listen button at the upper-left corner of the page.)

Wolf on "Shindig" TV show in 1965

Click here or on the image above to see Howlin’ Wolf on film!

More than 35 years ago, Howlin’ Wolf predicted the first black President:/h2>

“You know, they called us ‘coons’—said we didn’t have no sense.You gonna wake up one morning, and a coon’s gonna be the President.” —“Coon on the Moon” from The Back Door Wolf, recorded in 1973

We’re always looking for unpublished photos, unseen or unheard film, video, and sound clips, and first-person stories of and about Howlin’ Wolf! If you have any of these or know someone else who does, please contact Mark Hoffman.  Thanks!

This site is maintained by Mark Hoffman, co-author with James Segrest of Moanin’ at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin’ Wolf, the first biography of the legendary bluesman. If you wish to share your stories about the Wolf with us, please email Mark or James.