Despite repeated attempts to escape from a Union prison, including one that was briefly successful, Confederate naval Captain J.W. Alexander spent 17 months as a prisoner of war before eventually being exchanged in 1864. He had been an officer on the ironclad Atlanta when the ship was captured on June 16, 1862, after running aground during an encounter with a Union fleet at Ossabar Sound, Georgia. Alexander and his men were imprisoned at Fort Warren, an island fortress near Boston.
The commander and soldiers manning the fort were kind to their prisoners, Alexander writes in a memoir titled “How We Escaped From Fort Warren.” The prisoners were permitted to buy food and other items for their comfort. But then, following orders from Washington—in apparent retaliation for harsh treatment of Union soldiers in Southern prisons—the practice was disallowed. Now the men had to subsist on rations alone, and they were often hungry.
But, Alexander reports, they had a friend with a special connection to the prison commissary.
“While in the fort I had a beautiful little English terrier named Fanny, which had belonged to one of the sons of Captain S. S. Lee, and was turned over to me when Lee was ordered abroad. This little dog gained the affections of one of the sergeants attached to the commissary department in Fort Warren, and he used to bring fresh beef every day it was issued to the garrison as a present to the dog. Of course we took charge of the meat and the little dog was given the bones, and this meat was a great addition to our larder. This little dog was with me until the close of the war, and was carried to my home in Lincolnton, North Carolina, where she lived to a good old age, and raised many sons and daughters.”
~ From “How We Escaped From Fort Warren” by Capt. J.W. Alexander, in The New England Magazine – 1892-93.
Fanny night have looked something like this little dog. “Old English White Terrier” by Alfred Frank de Prades (19th century)