LOYAL HEARTS: HISTORY OF AMERICAN CIVIL WAR CANINES

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By Michael Zucchero. Published by SCHROEDER PUBLICATIONS 2009.  Hardcover with dust jacket, 184 pages, index, more than 57 photos and illustrations.

Soldiers during the American Civil War adopted many exotic mascots.  They ranged from alligators to badgers and bear cubs to wildcats, but none were as common, loyal and affectionate as dogs.  The total number of canine mascots from the period is not known, but a few attained minor celebrity status and were memorialized on reunion buttons and monuments.  In this book, Mike Zucchero tells the famous stories of “Dog Jack,” “Harvey,” and “Sallie,” as well as those of lesser known four-legged friends.

For every documented dog in the field, there were dozens that only lived on in the memories of the soldiers.  Yet dogs were active in their military lives: sharing men’s trials and tribulations, offering their affection and providing entertainment to soldiers that faced hour upon hour of military boredom or possible death in an instant.  Unfortunately, many of these mascots likewise became casualties.  The appeal of a dog mascot seems to have overwhelmed some soldiers so much that they took to dognapping.  Confederate General Hays’ men of the Louisiana Brigade abducted the tiny mascot “Stonewall” from the Richmond Howitzers several times.

At Sailor’s Creek, after fighting around the Lockett Farm and across the Double Bridges, troops of Federal General Andrew Humphreys’ Second Corps captured a large portion of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s wagon train and found a litter of puppies among the wagons.  One of the most famous photographs of the Civil War, taken by Timothy O’Sullivan at Appomattox (see page 142), shows Federal soldiers in front of the Appomattox Courthouse building.  Upon enlargement, the photograph reveals two soldiers have small dog mascots in their arms, though one blurred as a result of movement during the long exposure.  Although there is no known written documentation of these canines, the photograph indicates 60 men of the Provost Guard duty had at least two dogs.

The 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry’s multiple dog mascots included “Jack” and “York.”  Early on in the war, as the regiment advanced in line of battle, York patrolled the left flank with Company B while Jack advanced with the right flank.  York died from the rigors of campaign life leaving Jack the regimental favorite.  As a sign of their high regard for their beloved mascot, the men clubbed together and bought Jack a $75 silver collar at a time when a soldiers’ pay was $13 a month.  Jack was captured with some of the regiment at the battle of Salem Church, Virginia, on May 3, 1863, and held with them as a prisoner of war at Belle Isle, Virginia, until he was exchanged for a Confederate soldier.  Jack disappeared near Frederick City, Maryland, on December 23, 1864, and the men speculated that Jack was killed by robbers for his silver collar.  Interestingly enough, there was a second dog named “Jack” of another regiment, the 56th New York Infantry that also received a special collar purchased by the men.  This Jack fared better despite being wounded at the battle of Fair Oaks, and survived all the regiment’s battles and returned home to die of old age.  A third dog named “Jack” or “Union Jack” served with the 1st Maryland Infantry (U. S.).

Federal Civil War photographs of soldiers are far more numerous than photos of Confederates.  The same is true for dog mascot images—the lone Confederate dog photo being of “Tinker” who served on the crew of a blockade runner.  As far as stories, there is more parity that includes “Frank” of the Orphan Brigade’s 2nd Kentucky Infantry (C. S.) that carried his own rations in a haversack specially made for him.  The last known dog fatality on the battlefield was “Charlie” of the Georgia Troup Artillery killed in action at the Battle of Cumberland Church, April 7, 1865, only two days before General Lee’s surrender.

Zucchero uses his impressive collection of photos and extensive research create 19 chapters that present the reader with the most extensive work to date on Civil War canines.  This fully indexed volume is a valuable resource, an entertaining read and provides  afitting tribute to army dogs of the Civil War.  It is sure to please Civil War enthusiast and dog lovers alike.

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