Doggie Doggett of the Illinois Light Artillery

Dog chasing a pig illustration

Recently, we shared nurse Sophronia Bucklin’s account of the Newfoundland dog who assisted in the hospital at Point of Rocks—that is, he served in the hospital when no opportunity presented itself for him to join his soldiers in battle. Here is another dog’s story as told by Civil War nurse Mary A. Livermore.

“Doggie Doggett” took part in all aspects of the life of the Illinois Light Artillery’s Chicago Mercantile Independent Battery, and the soldiers hoped to take him along when they returned to civilian life after the war. “I find frequent mention of this canine member of the battery,” in the soldiers’ diaries and letters, Mrs. Livermore wrote in her memoir, “My Story of the War: A Woman’s Personal Narrative of Four Years Experience as a Nurse in the Union Army.” One soldier included a mention of their mascot in a brief and memorable diary entry, noting Doggie Doggett as “principal mourner” when the battery “Had funeral over Squad Six’s horse.”

Some dogs were notable for their zeal in battle or as watchdogs. Doggie Doggett’s particular talent was in foraging livestock, a useful skill, but an unexpected one for a dog like Doggie, who was, the soldiers recalled, a shepherd. Or should we say a failed shepherd.

Here is Mary Livermore’s account from her 1889 memoir:

“Sometimes they went a-fishing, or, more frequently, a-foraging, and ‘Doggie Doggett’ always accompanied them. I find frequent mention of this canine member of the battery. When our boys left Chicago they took two dogs with them; one a large, noble Newfoundland, which was lost on the Tallahatchie march, and the other a miserable little shepherd dog, that they christened ‘Doggie Doggett,’ and which proved invaluable to them. He was a great pet, and was instructed, and trained, and frolicked with, and caressed, until he became a highly accomplished animal. His exploits would occupy more space and time in recounting than would those of ‘old Mother Hubbard’s dog,’ whose chronicles are to be found in the veritable nursery books of Mother Goose. He paid no heed to the stringent orders issued from time to time, commanding respect for the rights of property in the country through which he marched or where he encamped. If he saw a sheep or a pig at a distance, he immediately went for it, and held it until our boys could despatch it. Stimulated by the praise he received, he redoubled his efforts in the foraging line and it was the boast of the battery that ‘Doggie Doggett’ could kill more sheep in one night than any other dog on record. He possessed so much of the savoir faire, that if he visited a flock, and was not discovered and called off, he left not one alive to tell of his dealings with them.

“It was the intention of the boys to bring him North and make a hero of him; and this they promised the ugly little brute over and over, all through the war. His love of sheep would have cost him his life at an early day had they brought him home; and it is not therefore to be regretted that they lost him, just as the war ended, when they were on their way to the North. Amid the confusion of regiments hastening homeward, the dog became bewildered, and marched off with the wrong battery. That is the theory of the boys. So dear had he become to them, that they actually obtained a pass for a man to go to Brashear City to seek him, as he was supposed to have straggled off in that direction. But ‘Doggie Doggett’ was not to be found, and to this day no one knows his fate; but his memory is honored in the records of the battery.”

Our illustration above is a modern adaptation from Alfred Waud’s sketch “Holiday in the camp of the 23 Penn. Vol. near Bladensburg,” which appears below. You can view the original in the Library of Congress at the following link:

A greased-pig chase–minus the dog–takes place to the left of the center in the original drawing.


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