For every “Dog Jack,” “Harvey,” and “Sallie” who have become canine folk-heroes of the American Civil War, there were untold numbers of other dogs who faithfully accompanied soldiers and are now all but lost to history. Fortunately, brief references to some of them remain. Here are three more of these loyal dogs. As we meet others, we’ll share their stories here.
Joel C. Archer of Granbury, Texas, was ever grateful for the hunting prowess of his regiment’s canine companion Reb, who was probably a terrier. He shared this reminiscence with Mamie Yeary for the 1912 book, “Reminiscences of the Boys In Gray, 1861-1865,” available courtesy of the Internet Archive*).
“We have lived on parched corn, waded creeks, and fought battles in
wet clothes, with nothing to eat but cold cornbread, when it seemed to
me the sweetest morsel I ever tasted. But the hardest time I ever had
in getting something to eat was when I was on Johnson’s Island after the
Federals had cut off our rations. I was one of those who hunted rats with
the little dog ‘Reb.’ And a baked rat tasted to me then like a good, fat
squirrel would now. If this ever gets into print and any of the ‘Johnson
Island’ boys see it they will remember the little dog ‘Reb.’ He was so
small that he could crawl into a big rat hole and pull them out.”
And here is a passing glimpse at “Camp,” a dog who accompanied the soldiers of the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, an African-American regiment. Though scant information about him appears in the regiment’s history, it seems he survived the war. I hope we might find out more; in the meantime, he can be remembered here. His sole appearance is in a footnote to the roster in the 14th’s history, “The Fourteenth Regiment Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Colored) In The War To Preserve The Union, 1861-1865,”* by William H. Chenery, published 1898:
“Camp,” the pet dog of Co. A, was a pup when they left Providence, R.I., strapped to [Silas] Lyons’s knapsack, and remained with the company
during its term of service.”
Though she is unnamed in this reminiscence, a faithful dog was fondly remembered by George H. Gordon, former colonel of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, in his 1882 memoir “A War Diary of Events in the War of the Great Rebellion. 1861-1865.”*
After the Union defeat at Chancellorsville in 1863, Gordon recalled,
“The return of my adjutant-general with a bandaged head, a bullet having struck him at Chancellorsville, and the fact that he brought with him our faithful staff-dog, filled headquarters with unusual happiness. Through Pope’s unfortunate march in Maryland, through the victorious onslaught of South Mountain and Antietam, through the cold winter of 1862 on the Potomac and at Stafford Court House, this dog was ever a loving friend and companion; and she cheered and relieved more gloomy hours than could have many a so-called nobler animal. Nestling in my lap, or sleeping upon my bed as of old, forgetting neither friend nor foe during her absence, she showed human attributes in snarling at a servant who had saved her life at Stafford Court House, by forcing her to take a dose of castor oil.”
The little dog appears in the book’s index as well, again unnamed, as follows: “Dog, a favorite, belonging to the writer’s staff, —allusion to, 61”
*All three of these works are available to read free of charge at the Internet Archive. Our illustration of a terrier comes from the 1906 book “Towser Dog’s Story” in the collection of the Library of Congress.