Readers Respond to the March Issue

If today’s wild horse population of 37,000 is an environmental threat [“The Mustang Mystique”], why wasn’t the population of two million-plus in the 1800s a threat?
The real issue seems to be that the land is being zealously seized for cattle and sheep ranching.
Jeff Matthews,
Benicia, California

Horse Sense
The statement by the photographer that the helicopters, which chase the horses, are no more bothersome than mosquitoes is asinine. The horses are chased for miles. Some die due to age and injuries. One foal that reached its holding pen after a corralling event reportedly had run so hard it developed abscesses that caused his hind hooves to come off; the Bureau of Land Management euthanized him after two painful weeks. The BLM appears to be pursuing an agenda that appeases the cattle industry and politicians. These horses could continue to survive on their own were it not for greed and the inhumanity of man.
Ruth Ost
Louisville, Ohio

While not all feral mustangs are direct descendants of the horses the Spanish brought to the New World (over the centuries there has been a lot of crossbreeding), they are an American treasure and deserve better than they are getting from the government. They should be treated as wildlife, not livestock, and should be allowed to remain on public lands. It seems they are being persecuted for not being cattle. They have earned a place in our nation’s history through their sweat and blood, as they carried both Native Americans and Europeans over this country. The more readers know about these horses, the better. What we do not know we tend to destroy.
Nancy Falley
Lockhart, Texas

Dolley’s Helpers
The war of 1812 often gets overlooked because of the attention given the Revolution and the Civil War. “Dolley Madison Saves the Day” brings to life details about the conflict, as well as the efforts of Maj. Charles Carroll, who persuaded Dolley to flee the White House and took her to the safety of Belle Vue, his mansion in nearby Georgetown. Belle Vue, today named Dumbarton House, still stands. It is now a museum where Dolley and the War of 1812 are commemorated each August.
Karen Daly
Washington, D.C.

Thomas Fleming’s excellent article on Dolley Madison overlooks an important historical fact. During its advance on Washington, the British fleet met persistent resistance by a flotilla of shallow-draft gunboats commanded by Commodore Joshua Barney. When Barney was outgunned, seven to one, he scuttled his small fleet, took his flotilla men ashore and used them during the Battle of Bladensburg. Some believe the majority of the casualties inflicted on advancing troops came from the naval men. Barney was wounded in the battle, left behind at his own request and captured by the British, who treated and released him. (He died in 1818, possibly of complications from the war wound.) Although the battle was an American defeat, the American Navy did offer stiff resistance to the British invasion.
Terrence Bronson
Monroe, Michigan

Picture of Support
Some may describe Shelby Lee Adams’ photograph of a home wake in Leatherwood, Kentucky [“The Vigil”], as bleak. Born and raised in the coal country of southern West Virginia, I see more—a family supported by relatives and friends at a time of deep grief. After the death of my own father in 2004, our family received an outpouring of love from hundreds of Appalachian people who visited from morning until night, bringing gentle stories, food, paper goods, even postage stamps, in an effort to show how much they cared. After my dad’s wake, in the parish church where he was baptized and married, my 12 siblings and our families took turns staying with him through the night. Our friends braved icy roads to make sure we were never alone. The care we received from our neighbors of modest means was in stark contrast to what awaited us when we returned home to our upscale Washington, D.C. suburb, where people at work expressed their condolences in cards and neither neighbors nor church acquaintances mentioned anything more about our loss. It’s our impersonal lives here that are truly bleak!
Vicki Ransom
Columbia, Maryland

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