Visitors to the Gettysburg Battlefield are often surprised to see the life-size statue of a dog lying at the base of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument on Doubleday Avenue. The statue, at the front of the monument, faces across the fields where the fighting took place on July 1, 1863, and away from the road, where visitors can easily pass by unaware of the dog’s presence.
Plaques on the monument recall the deeds of the men of the regiment in battles from 1861 to 1865, enumerating their losses, including 132 casualties at Gettysburg. But the dog is not mentioned. Who was she, and why was she given this costly tribute?
If John D. Lippy, Jr., wondered as he grew up at Gettysburg, it was not for long. As a boy early in the 20th century, he heard the story of the dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett, first-hand from Civil War veterans returning to Gettysburg for reunions. He heard how Sallie accompanied the soldiers of the 11th from their earliest days, as new recruits at Camp Wayne in West Chester, Pennsylvania, through nearly the entire war, until a fateful fight at Hatcher’s Run in Virginia in February 1865. At Gettysburg she had earned the soldiers’ undying appreciation when she refused to leave the field as Union troops retreated on July 1. Instead, she remained behind, watching over her dead and wounded comrades. The soldiers of the 11th feared she had been killed, but she was found days later, after the battle had ended, and returned to her regiment.
John Lippy took the story to heart and, years later, wrote an account and published it himself in 1962 under the title “The War Dog.”
More than 30 years later, “The War Dog” was long out-of-print when author Helene Smith became intrigued by Sallie’s story, a subject she addressed in heroic verse in her 1996 book “Sallie Civil War Dog, War Dog of the Rebellion.”
Authors Shirley Cubbison and Cindy Stouffer also encountered Sallie’s statue at Gettysburg and sought to learn more about her. Their collaboration in research and writing produced a more extensive history of the 11th and its mascot “A Colonel, A Flag, And A Dog” “A Colonel, A Flag, And A Dog,” published in 1998.
Though all three books are now out-of-print and can be difficult to find, Sallie’s story remains popular with visitors to the Gettysburg Battlefield. Her statue is a favorite spot where many visitors leave small “gifts” – biscuits, flowers, and flags – and some have their pictures taken beside her.
You can read more about “The War Dog” by John Lippy, “Sallie Civil War Dog” by Helene Smith and “A Colonel, A Flag, And A Dog” by Shirley Cubbison and Cindy Stouffer on our Web site, and even purchase a copy if you like. We are delighted to currently have all three books available for sale.
To see photos from some of Sallie’s visitors, visit our gallery, and feel free to contact us if you have a photo with Sallie that you’d like to share. We’d love to hear from you.