I enjoyed a “what-if?” short story by Angry Staff Officer, imagining what might have happened if President Lincoln had accepted an unsolicited gift instead of declining it.
Brigadier General Solomon Meredith stood with his frock coat unbuttoned outside his tent, airing out his tall frame from the long march. He commanded this brigade, nicknamed the “Iron Brigade” for its ferocity on the battlefield. The only all-Midwestern brigade in the Army of the Potomac, the Iron Brigade had a reputation as the toughest unit of the lot. Meredith was staring down the road, waiting impatiently for his last unit to arrive. The form of Colonel Rufus Dawes, commander of the 6th Wisconsin, hove into view. The two exchanged pleasantries and Meredith asked Dawes how his Badgers were doing.
“Mighty fine, sir, and thank you for asking,” said Dawes. “They’re ready to revenge Chancellorsville.”
“I think we all are,” said Meredith. “And from what I hear, we’ve got some fine new troops to help us out. Some of your Ohio fellows are on their way.” Dawes, originally from Ohio, smiled, and assented that there were no finer troops in the Union. His smile faded somewhat as, out of the gloom, the sound of thunder could be heard.
“Do hope it won’t rain on the boys,” he said. Meredith shifted his booted feet uncertainly.
“No, colonel, that isn’t rain, I don’t reckon,” he said. “That would be the 198th Ohio Mounted Infantry Battalion.”
“Jiminy!” said Dawes. “Are they giants?”
“Wellllll…” Meredith trailed off. “They’re not precisely infantry and they’re not precisely cavalry. To be fair, I don’t know quite what to do with them, because…”
They were interrupted by a scream from the picket line, a wild gunshot fired into the night air, followed by the sight of the picket guard running in, faces pale, gibbering that the world had come to an end. Dawes scrambled for his sword but Meredith told him not to bother.
“Watch,” he said, gesturing down the road.
A massive bulk appeared in the firelight, flames casting its shadow ominously onto the roadway, as the sound of stamping feet echoed for a mile behind it. Two large ears flapped with unconscious gravity while a long proboscis-like nose reared skywards and unleashed a braying blast, which was echoed rearwards – echoed with surprisingly regularity, almost as if it were the call for a halt. Mounted on this beast’s back was a tall, thin man in the blue of the U.S. Army.
“Major Thomas W. Custer,” said the officer, saluting, awkwardly. “Operating on temporary commission from the War Department, I do have the honor of presenting the 1st Ohio Pachyderm Battalion, 445 officers and men, fifty-one of the finest Siam elephants in good health, arranged in five companies. Spent these last five months training, sir, and I beg to report that the men and beasts are ready for a fight.”
There’s more at the link. Go read, and have fun.