A Union general, operating with his command in West Virginia, allowed himself and his men to be trapped, and it was feared his force would be captured by the Confederates. The President heard the report read by the operator, as it came over the wire, and remarked:
“Once there was a man out West who was ‘heading’ a barrel, as they used to call it. He worked like a good fellow in driving down the hoops, but just about the time he thought he had the job done, the head would fall in. Then he had to do the work all over again.
“All at once a bright idea entered his brain, and he wondered how it was he hadn’t figured it out before. His boy, a bright, smart lad, was standing by, very much interested in the business, and, lifting the young one up, he put him inside the barrel, telling him to hold the head in its proper place, while he pounded down the hoops on the sides. This worked like a charm, and he soon had the ‘heading’ done.
“Then he realized that his boy was inside the barrel, and how to get him out he couldn’t for his life figure out. General Blank is now inside the barrel, ‘headed in,’ and the job now is to get him out.”