“The cold weather of a few days ago reminded me of a little adventure that I had while soldiering,” said a well known business man. “It was on New Years day 1863, and we camped at the foot of a West Virginia mountain. The snow was several inches deep and the cold was intense. There wasn’t much discipline, and as we were allowed to hunt some, I took my gun and started up the mountain side. I had gone half a mile probably, when I stopped at the foot of a tree. My hands were nearly frozen and I leaned my gun against the tree and commenced rubbing my hands together to warm them, when suddenly I heard the brush cracking and turning I beheld a huge bear coming in my direction. It was on its hind legs with its huge paws outstretched and its jaws open and I could almost feel its warm breath on my cheek. Recovering from my fright I sprang up and caught a limb of a tree, drawing myself up out of the way just in time to avoid the embrace of the huge beast. My heart thumped so it shook my whole body. The bear cantered around the tree, sniffling at my gun, which still stood leaning against it. I shouted until I was hoarse, hoping to attract some of the soldiers in camp, but to no avail. I fixed myself as comfortably as possible in the branches of the tree, and watched the bear, believing that he would soon tire and leave. The cold was terrific. My whole body was benumbed, and I wondered how much longer I could endure the cold before I would tumble out of the tree to be devoured by the bear. Suddenly a bright thought struck me, and descending to the lower branch I took a bottle of whisky from my pocket and began pouring a thin stream down into the barrel of my gun. The whisky striking the cold gun barrel froze and in a few moments there was a solid streak of frozen whisky reaching from the gun clear up to the bottle that I held in my hand. Taking hold of the whisky icicle, I carefully drew the gun up, hand over hand, until it was in my grasp. Then taking careful aim, I sent a bullet crashing into a vital spot of the bear, and it rolled down the mountain side dead. I hurriedly descended and found my way back to camp nearly frozen. Some people may tell you that whisky won’t freeze, but then it did in this instance, for it was the coldest day I ever experienced. Get a pension? Why certainly for I have never fully thawed out since that terrible freezing I got while clinging to that tree.”
Source: “Get A Pension Now,” Huntington (WV) Advertiser, 16 February 1899.