Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rolling the Dice in Mexico

In any war, soldiers will be soldiers. And, in most wars soldiers will gamble - sometimes to make up for poor pay and sometimes just to pass the time. Of course, there are many ways to gamble. Some games require cards, but cards can get lost, or torn, or wet. Some gaming required horses, and some required roosters - both not always easy for the average soldier to obtain. But, one of the easiest games to carry and play on demand are dice.  Dice could easily be made by soldiers just by carving cubes from wood, lead bullets, or even molding clay.

The unique die pictured above was carved by Kentucky soldier Benjamin D. Allan during his service in the Mexican War. It is carved from ivory and has the letters T-E-X-A-S, and an eight-point star (possibly the Lone Star?) each etched into the six sides.

It is fortunate that small pieces of material culture such as this die have survived to give us a better understanding of soldiers' experiences in Mexico.

Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.

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