Bathed in Blood: Hunting and Mastery in the Old South
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Proctor, Nicolas W. 1969-
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Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description The hunt, like the church, courthouse, and family, played an integral role in southern society and culture during the antebellum era. Regardless of color or class, southern men hunted. Although hunters always recognized the tangible gains of their mission - meat, hides, furs - they also used the hunt to communicate ideas of gender, race, class, masculinity, and community.
Hunting was very much a social activity, and for many white hunters it became a drama in which they could display their capacity for mastery over women, blacks, the natural world, and their own passions. Nicolas Proctor argues in Bathed in Blood that because slaves frequently accompanied white hunters into the field, whites often believed that hunting was a particularly effective venue for the demonstration of white supremacy.
Slaves interpreted such interactions quite differently: they remained focused on the products of the hunt and considered the labor performed at the behest of their owners as an opportunity to improve their own condition.
Whether acquired as a reward from a white hunter or as a result of their own independent - often illicit - efforts, game provided them with an important supplementary food source, an item for trade, and a measure of autonomy. I was so much afraid of the serpents that I did not like to be out after night; but after we had shocked our hay, and were about to start home, seeing some horses coming toward our shocks, we staid long enough to drive them off.
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We then left for home, which we reached without coming in contact with any snakes. When we arrived at our destination, seeing the same horses, we went to them, and found one, a young mare bitten on the nose by a snake.
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Before we got her home she was entirely blind, and the blood was dropping from hundreds of places where the veins had burst through the skin. In the evening, the old man and his wife came over to try and save their favorite colt; but all in vain. The swelling had increased until the head was entirely out of shape; and I am confident, if the head had been put out of the stabledoor, no one could have told what it was.
The eyes were entirely closed, and there was nothing to show that eyes had been there but a very small wrinkle in the skin.
At length the windpipe seemed to be altogether closed up, and she died in the greatest agony. It had been bitten on the nose and its eyes bulged out of the shapeless head in a horror of agony and it tottered moaning toward the clustered horses of the company with its misshapen muzzle swinging and drooling and its breath wheezing in the throttled pipes of its throat.
The skin had split open along the bridge of its nose and the bone shone through pinkish white and its small ears looked like paper spills twisted into either side of a hairy loaf of dough. The American horses began to mill and separate along the wall at its approach and it swung after them blindly. There was a flurry of thumps and kicks and the horses began to circle the compound. A small mottled stallion belonging to one of the Delawares came out of the remuda and struck at the thing twice and then turned and buried its teeth in its neck.
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