Son of a Gun!
By Morgan Gates
Son of a gun, I’m famous -Well not quite, but I did have a role in a movie a couple of days ago. I was contacted by a fellow who was making a small independent movie titled “Son of a Gun” based on a Civil War era story. He wanted me to portray Pemberton surrendering Vicksburg. It was a short no lines bit part, which mainly involved me staring intently at the actor depicting grant before stiffly accepting a proffered handshake. I'm told it would be a flashback scene remembered by one of the main characters. In final edit, It will probably last about 20 -30 seconds, but hey, I was in a movie! Son of a Gun!
You son of a gun! – Have you ever wondered about some of the commonly used phrases that have become part of the English language, but on closer examination make no sense at all? In some cases, the actual origin of the phrase has been clouded and almost lost in the mist of time. Son of a gun is one of these that are old enough that the exact origin is unknown. Some believe that it is a variant of the even older, and more self-explanatory “son of a b_ _ ch” but most of those who delve deeply into the more arcane mysteries of the English language have a bit more refined story. The best case for the origin of this phrase was the unofficial but often tolerated practice of women coming aboard 18th Century British warships while they were in port. Nick Slope writing for BBC History recounts this account of a British sailor of the day:
With the women came drink and what with the drink and the women the ship's discipline came to a stop. The men and women drank and quarreled between the guns. The decks were allowed to become dirty. Drunken women were continually coming up to insult the officers, or to lodge some complaint. Sometimes the women ran aloft to wave their petticoats to the flagship'.
Any child born of such an encounter would have had a very questionable paternal bloodline, needless to say, and became known as simply “A son of a gun”!
A Real Son of a Gun? Back now to our normal period of time, The Civil War. An interesting story (the one the movie is based on) was related in 1874 by one Dr. LeGrand G. Capers of Vicksburg writing for the American Medical Weekly. Allegedly during the Battle of Raymond, May 12th, 1863, which was part of the Vicksburg Campaign, a Minie Ball struck a young lady who was watching the battle unfold from the porch of her nearby home. The bullet lodged in her reproductive organ. The wound was not fatal as the round was nearly spent by the time it reached her, but by incredible coincident, the projectile had passed through the left testicle of a young Confederate soldier first. Dr. Capers an army surgeon treated both patients who recovered nicely. Dr. Capers was called on again by the young woman sometime later as she discovered that she was pregnant! Dr. Capers delivered a healthy baby that was allegedly the result of a long distance artificial insemination via Minie Ball! Dr. Capers introduced the couple who married and had several more children via the normal method! So, was this and actual case of a literal “son of a gun”? Sadly, no for the report was just a joke! Despite the suspect name of LeGrand Caper (i.e., “the grand caper”), Doctor Caper was real, but the story was related to him by another, and he submitted it as a farce. Perhaps a child did arise from the meeting of a young soldier and an and innocent lass, but it was of a decidedly normal process and the yarn concocted to preserve a young girl's honor. For in Dr. Capers on words "an accident may happen in even the most well-regulated families."
Oh, by the way if you don’t catch “Son of a Gun” in your local theater you can see an reenactment of the surrender of Vicksburg at our Breakfast with the Generals on July 4th, 2018 at the Baer House Inn 1117 Grove Street and the Old Courthouse Museum 1008 Cherry Street – More information soon
It's too soon to say when and where the movie will be shown, but as I find out more, I'll share it here. See you next time You Old Son of a Gun! Note it's scheduled for release early 2019 and will be shown in the Vicksburg Port Gibson area