In the opinion of Orphan Brigade veteran and historian Ed Porter Thompson, reflecting on the life of Frank, the dog of the 2nd Kentucky Infantry, the love of a dog for his master was second only to that of a mother for her child. A battle-scarred onetime prisoner of war, Frank, after living a soldier’s life, shared many a soldier’s fate. The following account is from Thompson’s book “History of the Orphan Brigade,” published in 1898.
Frank the Soldier Dog
“Among the singular circumstances attending the life of soldiers, few are more deserving of special mention than the facts in connection with this representative of the canine species in the army of the Confederacy. The peculiar ties existing between men and dogs the strong and constant attachment of the animal for his master have long been the subject of song and story. The noble Newfoundlander, in the snows of the Alps, seeking the benighted and storm-caught traveler, presents to our minds the image of a benevolent intelligence; and the poet has made ‘Old Dog Tray’ the embodiment of unselfish love, and fidelity, for which man seeks in vain among his fellows, and not always finds, even in woman, after he leaves the sacred precincts of his childhood home, and the domain that is lighted by the eye of his mother.
“Frank was a sort of counterpart to Postlethwait, Capt. Richard A. Collins’s pet black bear, that shared the fortunes of his battery in Gen. Joe Shelby’s splendid command of Missouri Confederates; and to the Militia Pig that campaigned with the Kentucky volunteers during the War of 1812.
“He was brought into the Second Regiment by one of the members of Co. B, and long experienced with the men the privations of inclement season, scanty fare and hard marching, and the perils of the field. He went into the engagement at Donelson, was captured with the troops, and spent his six months in prison at Camp Morton: and
“When the regiment was marched out from the prison inclosure, on the 26th of August, 1862, Frank was observed to wag his tail joyfully, and he departed somewhat from his ordinarily dignified demeanor, and was gleeful at the prospect of going forth again to ‘the stern joys of the battle.’
“In more than one subsequent engagement he was wounded, but that did not deter him in the least from marching out promptly when the ‘long roll’ was sounded next time, and taking his chances. If a soldier fell, Frank looked at him with the eye of a philosopher; and the close observer might have discovered something of pity in his glance, and a half-consciousness that the poor man was dead, or in agony, and that he could not help him. On these, as indeed on almost all occasions, he seemed to partake largely of the spirit of the men. If the conflict was obstinate, Frank was silent and dogged. If the men shouted in the onset, or cheered when the ground was won, he barked in unison.
“He took part in the memorable ‘snow-ball battle’ at Dalton, March 22, 1864, and was wounded in the foot, having come in contact, during the melee, with one of his own species who was serving with an adverse party.
“On the march he frequently carried his own rations in a small haversack hung on his neck.
“He almost invariably went out, when not ‘excused by the surgeon,’ to company, regimental, and brigade drills, sometimes looking on like a reviewing officer, but oftener taking part in the maneuvers; but he had a sovereign contempt for ‘dress parade,’ and generally stayed at his quarters when he found that the men were to go no further than the color-line.
“He was rather choice, too, in his associates; and, though widely known and friendly to all, he would not allow of much familiarity outside of his own mess. When rations were short, he would visit other messes, and even other companies, and accept the little that his friends could spare; but he did not want them to presume upon his sense of obligation, and indulge in anything like caresses.
“In this way he lived the soldier s life. If Co. B had a shelter, Frank had his corner in it. When he was shot, his wounds were dressed, and he had no lack of attention. If the commissariat were well supplied, he fed bountifully, and put on his best looks. If life were eked out on ‘hard-tack’ and a slice of bacon, or of poor beef, Frank had but his share of that, and grew lean and hollow-eyed, like his soldier-friends.
“But, in the summer campaign of 1864, he disappeared; and we have to write of Frank, the soldier-dog, as we have done of many a noble soldier boy, ‘fate unknown.’ Perhaps some admirer of his species laid felonious hands upon him, and carried him captive away; or, perhaps, a ball from some ‘vile gun’ laid him low while he was taking a lonely stroll in the woods.”