A Chaplain Reflects on the Character of His Regiment’s Dogs

Daily they do honor to every faculty their Maker has given them, while it may be both you and those who proudly boast themselves as the owners of the dog, are daily and recklessly dishonoring, by misimprovement, each power of body and faculty of soul bestowed for high aims and holy purposes.”

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Rev. Alexander M. Stewart, Chaplain, 102nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Dog Jack, the celebrated mascot of the 102nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, is one of the best known dogs of the Civil War. But he was not the regiment’s only mascot. In a memoir, the regiment’s chaplain, Rev. Alexander M. Stewart, tells not only Jack’s story in detail, but he also introduces two other memorable dogs, York and Beauty. Rev. Stewart’s musings on theology and military life underscore the high esteem that soldiers held for their canine companions.

If anyone might wonder why soldiers erected bronze monuments to their dogs, buried them with military honors or toasted their memory at reunions, let them read Rev. Stewart’s account:

“Two Famous Characters.—As chroniclers of great battles are wont to say, ‘It would be impossible to mention by name all who have distinguished themselves,’ so neither, as you will bear me witness, has there been any attempt, in my numerous letters from camp, to mention individuals by name who have done honor to the service. In so doing a large list must be made, as almost every name would press for insertion. There are, however, two characters attached to our regiment, whose long, brave, constant, uninterrupted manly bearing, it might seem invidious longer to pass over in silence. Volunteering into the regiment at its first organization, now nineteen long months,—during all that time, they have shown no tendency to desert, nor even asked for a furlough or leave of absence. They have never been off duty; never missed a roll call; never offered a complaint; never have seemed to doubt of ultimate success; always cheery and ready to lend a helping hand at any difficult service. Far different, also, from many in their respective companies, they have never yet so far disgraced themselves, as to violate the law of God, wholesome army regulations, together with all rules of decency and gentlemanly bearing, by uttering a vulgarity, swearing a profane oath, playing cards or getting drunk. Their characters, it may be truly said, are now known and read of all. But who, who are they? Let us hear the names of such true gentlemen and model characters, such brave soldiers and unbending patriots: —Two Dogs.

“Smile, reader, if you will; but don’t snarl or turn up the nose. These two characters are far more worthy to have an honorable chronicle, than many a biped with whom they associate….. Yet are they none of your ordinary whelps or curs, though to the manor born, and without name or fame. By native strength of character, and living in revolutionary times, they have raised themselves above the common swarm of mongrels. As the biography of many a Brigadier should, in charitable silence, be brief, so of our two heroes nothing shall be written until fairly ushered upon the stage of active military life.”

Here, Rev. Stewart tells the well-known story of Jack’s early career as firedog of the Niagara Fire Company of Pittsburg (sic), Pennsylvania, then he follows with passages on the 102nd’s other mascots.

“The other dog is a curious looking specimen of the canine. One must be more skilled in doggery than the writer, to define his species. Spaniel, cur, terrier, and waterdog all seem blended in one. He is, however, ‘A rhyming, ranting, roving billie.’ His partial friends do, indeed, boast him of high degree; yet sure all who meet him must admit,

‘That though he be of high degree,
The feint a pride, no pride has he.’

“Volunteering in the regiment while encamped in the city of York, Pa., in May, 1861, he is, in accordance, surnamed York. He is enrolled in company B, which occupies the extreme left or rear of the regiment. Should Jack at any time approach the rear, every hair on York’s body is at once on end. Should York approach the right, Jack sends him back according to true military style and authority. York’s reasoning faculties seem to operate slowly. He is accustomed to bound away, and bring back in his mouth whatever missile any one of the boys may throw from them, whether falling upon land or water. With live game he has but little acquaintance. The other day a rabbit was started, and was seen by York at a certain point. Thither he bounded with wonderful agility; then he stopped and snuffed and snorted to find the rabbit as he would a block or stone—seeming wholly oblivious, that although the rabbit was actually in that spot when he started in pursuit, it might not perchance be in the same spot when he arrived. Marvellous stories are told by the boys concerning the experience and knowledge in military affairs acquired by these dogs; all of which, if written, would fill a volume, and put to shame many a Brigadier.

“Another dog we had whose name is still cherished, and whose memory should not be allowed to perish without a word. On account of many graces, both mental and bodily, it received the appellation of ‘Beauty.’” Along into the battle of Malvern, went Beauty, but came not out. Some would have it, that Beauty was taken prisoner, but as the name never appeared among the list of captured, this seems impossible. The majority have it, that Beauty was torn to pieces by a bursting shell. Poor Beauty bleaches not alone, unburied, from our regiment, upon those bloodstained hills of Malvern. Should these two veterans not meet the fate of Beauty, and be allowed to return with the living to Pittsburg, a bright brass collar, with appended silver medal, will, no doubt, be voted to each, and be worn by their dogships the remainder of life.

“Reader, these two dogs give evidence of thinking as quickly, and reasoning as accurately as yourself. What is it, then, which separates you from them so widely, marking a distinction lasting as eternity? They have no conscience, no moral sense, no remorse for the past, no hope or dread of the future. All these you possess, and in their daily exercise they argue you accountable—a being, the consequences of whose actions are not to cease, as will those of Jack and York. Yet, perchance, these dogs are acting in a manner much more rational than yourself. Daily they do honor to every faculty their Maker has given them, while it may be both you and those who proudly boast themselves as the owners of the dog, are daily and recklessly dishonoring, by misimprovement, each power of body and faculty of soul bestowed for high aims and holy purposes.

“Two years have now elapsed since the above chronicle was made of our two camp friends. These two eventful years have made rapid and fearful changes among the human members of our regiment, as well as of the whole army. Nor have our canine companions been exceptions to war’s rapid mutations. Eighteen months since, poor York sank under a complication of injuries, diseases and exposures—died in camp, was buried with appropriate military honors by the members of his company, while a board at the spot duly chronicles the event. Jack still survives, through multiplied dangers and vicissitudes, maintaining his honorable position in the field and active service….”

From “Camp, March and Battle-field; Or Three Years and a Half with the Amy of the Potomac,” 1865

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Gettysburg was all he needed to know of Army life

Maybe this Maryland dog’s family never wondered about his absence and, we presume, his return home. In any case, it’s very likely they never guessed that he “fought” at Gettysburg. His brief story is told by Michael Schroyer of the 147th Pennsylvania, who recounted the Union Army’s march into Pennsylvania in late June 1863:

After passing through Frederick, “[a]long the roadside we came across a goodly number of cherry trees which were loaded with the precious fruit and we ate many quarts in a very short time. While resting, some three or four ladies came along in a carriage, singing ‘Maryland, My Maryland.’ The boys cheered them all along the line as it certainly was inspiring to hear this song as we were nearing old Pennsylvania. A large, long-haired, yellow dog came to our company from one of the Maryland homes, became a pet and stayed with us on the march . . . .The long haired yellow dog that followed the company from Maryland was with us all thru the Gettysburg battle and when a shell dropped near us and exploded, the dog, who had found a cool place under the rocks, would come forth and bark at the bursting shells. The dog stayed with us until our return march thru Maryland when he left us and we never saw anything of him again.”

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Three Dogs Saved From Drowning

Bravo! to the Italian yacht crew members who saved a young Labrador retriever last month after the dog went overboard off another boat in the Bay of Naples. On social media this week, many people have viewed the videos of the dog, Noodle, and his rescue. If you missed that story, you can see it here, courtesy of CNN and the Savoia Yacht Club: https://goo.gl/egNe5z. Noodle’s dramatic rescue reminded us that two of the most famous figures of the American Civil War also saved dogs from drowning: Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee.

Noodle the Labrador retriever swims for his life in the Bay of Naples after falling overboard.

Noodle the Labrador retriever swims for his life in the Bay of Naples after falling overboard.

Years before the Civil War, Lee, the future Confederate general, was on a boat near Staten Island, New York, when he spotted, bobbing in the water, a dog who had apparently fallen overboard from a passing boat and drifted out of sight. Lee rescued her and took her home to his children. She became Dart, a beloved family member. Later, one of her pups, named Spec, was also a much-loved companion who was known for accompanying the family to church.

Abraham Lincoln’s lifelong love of dogs is also well known. In 1830 he saved one of his family’s dogs from drowning in an icy stream. Lincoln, then 21, was accompanying his father, stepmother and siblings as the family moved from Indiana to Illinois. Streams were overflowing their banks with the thawing and refreezing of early spring, and as the party crossed a flooded spot, a small dog jumped from the wagon and broke through the ice. Lincoln biographer David Herbert Donald quotes Lincoln’s own retelling of the episode, “‘I could not bear to lose my dog,’ Lincoln recalled many years later, ‘and I jumped out of the wagon and waded waist deep in the ice and water[.] got hold of him and helped out and saved him.’”

Noodle, Dart and Lincoln’s little friend whose name is lost to history are three dogs fortunate that kind-hearted people were nearby to help them in their distress.

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A Shocking Encounter

Robert D. Funkhouser, Jr., who served with the 49th Virginia Infantry, shared some of his memories of the war with readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1906. Among his reminiscences was a brief account of a shocking encounter with a Newfoundland dog. This peculiar little story is possibly the only remembrance of this dog that has remained in all the years since the war. It’s one of those sobering reminders of the high price some dogs paid — then, as now — for their loyalty to their soldiers.

“The night after the battle at Williamsburg, the 6th of May, 1862, our regiment was standing in line of battle in front of the winter quarters of some of General Magruder’s troops, and it was pouring down rain. We were wet as water could make us, even with good overcoats on, and it was very dark, so Lieutenant J. B. Updyke and myself groped into one of the huts and found something soft to lay our heads on, and soon we were both fast asleep. A cannon-ball crashed through our shanty, and the rattle of shingles and shower of daubing and debris woke us up, and when we started to decamp in a great hurry, Lieutenant Updyke said, wofully: “I’ve lost my hat. Have you got a match?” When I struck one, lo and behold! there was a large Newfoundland dog, which had served as our pillow, lying there dead; but we did not hold a post-mortem to ascertain the cause of his death, because another cannon-ball came shrieking close over our heads.”​

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A Civil War Dog’s Tale Told Across Two Generations

Visitors to the Gettysburg Battlefield are often surprised to see the life-size statue of a dog lying at the base of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument on Doubleday Avenue. The statue, at the front of the monument, faces across the fields where the fighting took place on July 1, 1863, and away from the road, where visitors can easily pass by unaware of the dog’s presence.

Plaques on the monument recall the deeds of the men of the regiment in battles from 1861 to 1865, enumerating their losses, including 132 casualties at Gettysburg. But the dog is not mentioned. Who was she, and why was she given this costly tribute?

Two Civil War Dog BooksIf John D. Lippy, Jr., wondered as he grew up at Gettysburg, it was not for long. As a boy early in the 20th century, he heard the story of the dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett, first-hand from Civil War veterans returning to Gettysburg for reunions. He heard how Sallie accompanied the soldiers of the 11th from their earliest days, as new recruits at Camp Wayne in West Chester, Pennsylvania, through nearly the entire war, until a fateful fight at Hatcher’s Run in Virginia in February 1865. At Gettysburg she had earned the soldiers’ undying appreciation when she refused to leave the field as Union troops retreated on July 1. Instead, she remained behind, watching over her dead and wounded comrades. The soldiers of the 11th feared she had been killed, but she was found days later, after the battle had ended, and returned to her regiment.

John Lippy took the story to heart and, years later, wrote an account and published it himself in 1962 under the title “The War Dog.”

More than 30 years later, “The War Dog” was long out-of-print when authors Shirley Cubbison and Cindy Stouffer also became intrigued by Sallie’s story. Their collaboration in research and writing produced a more extensive history of the 11th and its mascot “A Colonel, A Flag, And A Dog” “A Colonel, A Flag, And A Dog,” published in 1998.

Though both books are now out-of-print and can be difficult to find, Sallie’s story remains popular with visitors to the Gettysburg Battlefield. Her statue is a favorite spot where many visitors leave small “gifts” – biscuits, flowers, and flags – and some have their pictures taken beside her.

You can read more about “The War Dog” by John Lippy and “A Colonel, A Flag, And A Dog” by Shirley Cubbison and Cindy Stouffer on our Web site, and even purchase a copy if you like. We are delighted to currently have both books available for sale.

To see photos from some of Sallie’s visitors, visit our gallery, and feel free to contact us if you have a photo with Sallie that you’d like to share. We’d love to hear from you.

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Grace, A Loyal Confederate Mascot at Gettysburg

Dogs have figured prominently in art of the Civil War, from illustrations in the popular press of the 1860s to the present day, when noted Civil War artists continue to include them in their paintings. Some of these dogs, like Grace, the mascot of the 2nd Maryland CSA (originally the 1st Maryland Infantry Battalion), would be all but forgotten except for a single instance of loyalty and bravery that captured the popular imagination.

Close-up of Grace, 2nd MD CSA When painter Peter Frederick Rothermel portrayed the July 2 fighting on Culp’s Hill as part of his series on the Battle of Gettysburg, he was inspired to include Grace among the charging Confederates based on a story told by Union General Thomas Kane. In a letter, Kane spoke of finding the wounded dog limping along among the dead and wounded as if looking for an explanation for the carnage. “He licked someone’s hand, they said, after he was perfectly riddled,” Kane wrote. He ordered Grace to be buried with honor, as “the only Christian minded being on either side.”

Rothermel’s painting, “Repulse of General Johnson’s Division by General Geary’s White Star Division,” hangs in the State Museum of Pennsylvania. It is also depicted prominently on a wayside marker on the Gettysburg Battlefield, where visitors can see Grace leading her soldiers’ charge at the site where the action took place.

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A Canine Hero at Gettysburg

Sallie Ann JarrettFor generations, Gettysburg visitors who have traced the first day’s fighting along Oak Ridge have been surprised to find the bronze figure of a dog lying at the base of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument.  Facing away from Doubleday Avenue and looking across the battlefield where the regiment fought on July 1, 1863, the dog is at rest but vigilant.  Who was this dog? And why would a dog be given this costly tribute?

For the soldiers of the Old 11th, the dog’s statue needed no inscription.  She was Sallie Ann Jarrett, affectionately known as Sallie.  For four years—nearly the duration of the war—she was their mascot and faithful companion.  She shared their hardships and helped raise their spirits at the bleakest of times.  To the regiment’s soldiers who lay wounded after the first day’s fighting at Gettysburg, Sallie was their faithful protector, refusing to leave them behind when Confederates routed the Union forces.  The soldiers never forgot her loyalty and bravery.  When the time came for a monument to remember their own struggles and recognize the sacrifices of their comrades at Gettysburg, they accorded Sallie, too, a place of honor.

For more about the enduring bonds of loyalty and trust shared by the soldiers and their faithful dogs, read “A Tribute to the Dogs of the American Civil War.”

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Mr. Lincoln Meets A War Dog

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The farm boys and small-town residents who made up most of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were among the first soldiers to enlist when Abraham Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 troops in April 1861.  Motivated by patriotism and the prospect of adventure, they thought it would take just 90 days to put down the Rebellion.  But as they and the nation soon learned, there would be no swift end to hostilities.

By the following April, the 11th had become a cohesive fighting force, experienced in combat, skilled in drills and tactics.  Their mascot, Sallie, a handsome bull terrier, had grown from a four-week-old pup to a hardy and faithful companion who delighted in the fellowship of army life.  And the soldiers, to whom she was fiercely loyal, delighted in her companionship.

Sallie especially enjoyed drills and dress parades.  On parade, she would eagerly take her place at the front of the line to lead the commanding officer’s horse.  During drills, she would lie quietly beside the color bearers, guarding her regiment’s flags.  Whenever the regiment broke camp, her self-appointed role was to lead the colonel’s horse as the march began.

On April 15, 1862, the 11th was stationed in Washington, DC, when their commanding officer, Colonel Richard Coulter, received an invitation for the regiment to march in review at the White House. The regiment’s chaplain would later write in his memoirs of Lincoln’s “kindly smile” as he stood on the front steps watching.

Nearly a year later, the 11th would meet the commander in chief again, and Sallie would receive special notice.  On April 8, 1863, while near Fredericksburg, Virginia, the 11th again marched in review before President Lincoln.  The President saluted officers he knew, waved his hat to the enlisted men, and when he saw Sallie marching proudly by, tipped his hat to her in courtly acknowledgment.  As the historians of the 11th would write, “Sallie had given pleasure to a man who was heavily burdened with the decisions of war.”  Lincoln, who loved animals, no doubt recognized the bond of affection between the soldiers and their mascot and the good cheer that she brought to the men.  And, for the moment, he shared in that good cheer and the camaraderie of a faithful dog.

Sources: “A Colonel, A Flag and A Dog” by Cindy Stouffer and Shirley Cubbison
                “The Story of the Regiment” by Rev. William Henry Locke
                “The War Dog” by John Lippy

Read more about Sallie and the other loyal dogs of the Civil War here: http://www.LoyaltyOfDogs.com/ReadPosterTribute.htm.

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For the Soldiers of the 11th PVI–and for Sallie

Yesterday was Remembrance Day in Gettysburg.

Sallie Ann Jarrett, mascot of the 11th PVI.

Remembering the soldiers of the 11th PVI and Sallie, their loyal canine mascot.

 

The 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument on Oak Ridge, Gettysburg, Remembrance Day 2011.
Visitors to the Gettysburg Battlefield remember the Old 11th and Sallie, their mascot, on Remembrance Day 2011.
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The Colonel’s Lament for His Dog

Sallie Ann Jarrett, loyal mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865. The only known photo of Sallie. (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission)

In his insightful Wall Street Journal review of “Rin Tin Tin” by Susan Orlean, Scott Eyman mentions the “sense of loss that permeates” the book. The sense of loss that Mr. Eyman describes is, I believe, a hallmark of memoirs about beloved dogs.

A poignant example is a memoir of the American Civil War by Col. Richard Coulter, commanding officer of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In 1867 Col. Coulter wrote about the loyalty of the regiment’s canine mascot, a bull terrier named Sallie Ann Jarrett. “Soldier Sallie,” as the men often called her, had faithfully followed the regiment from May 1861 until almost the end of the war. At Gettysburg she guarded her wounded and dead companions on the battlefield for five days, refusing to leave them.

Col. Coulter reminisced about Sallie sharing the soldiers’ hardships and earning their admiration and affection. But there too, along with the praise, is the inevitable loss–not only the loss of Sallie’s companionship but a deeper, existential loss, and it is with this loss that Col. Coulter ended his tribute. Sallie was killed in February 1865 in the fighting at Hatcher’s Run in Virginia. Col. Coulter’s memoir laments that “There is nothing now to mark the spot where she fell, no stone or tablet to her memory . . . ” That omission he and his men would later correct, though not at Hatcher’s Run but at Gettysburg. His final lines quote Byron’s epitaph for his dog Boatswain, which observes that history gloriously honors men not as they were “but [as] they should have been,” while “the poor dog, in life the firmest friend, whose honest heart is still his master’s own . . . unhonor’d falls, unnoticed all his worth, Denied in Heaven the soul he held on Earth . . . .”

We may never know, but perhaps it is that loss that Rin Tin Tin’s Sgt. Duncan, too, felt most of all.
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