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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