Dogs have been used in combat for thousands of years. The first recorded use of man’s best friend for war was by the ancient civilization of the Hammurabi in 2100 B.C. It is said, “the dogs fought side by side with the elite warriors in the Hammurabian Army.”
During the tumultuous years of the Civil War, in our nation, dogs were also used for combat and as mascots. Sallie was introduced into the Eleventh Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers as they were camped at the fair grounds near West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Sallie became a soldier on one sunny morning when a civilian brought her to the quarters of First Lieutenant William R. Terry, Company I. The report says the civilian pulled a “little puffy pug-nosed black muzzled dog out of the basket that was about four-weeks old.
Sallie was described as a “brindle bull terrier of a fine breed,” that could barely get about the camp on her short and clumsy little legs. Lt. Terry took Sallie into his quarters and made a little nest under his bunk for her. He fed and cared for her as she quickly adjusted, and thrived, to camp life.
Terry fed her milk and soft bread, and everyone in the camp loved Sallie. The soldiers would play with her and lovingly pet her as she came bouncing by them. By the time the Eleventh Regiment’s three months of service were over Sallie had grown considerably and could take care of herself fairly well.
Once it was decided that the Eleventh Regiment would reorganize for another three years of service, Sallie also reenlisted with Company I. During the winter of 1862, the Eleventh Pennsylvania was stationed at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. They spent the winter doing provost-guard duty, drilling, performing fatigue duty and guarding the Annapolis Branch Railroad.
Sallie also took part in all the activities as she was now a full-blown member of the regiment and had friends throughout the entire company. Sallie adapted to the soldier’s life; she knew when the drum rolled it was time for reveille and would be the first one out of quarters standing to greet the soldiers and attend morning roll call.
During the squad or company’s drills, Sallie would choose one particular soldier and patiently follow him around until the drill was over. It’s also noted in history’s pages that when the regiment formed for battalion drill that Sallie would seek out the “Colonel’s horse, who soon began to recognize and watch for her.”
Sallie was always with the colonel’s horse, at the front of the line, as the regiment marched during the dress parade. The Eleventh Regiment left Annapolis on April 10, 1862, bound for Washington. No matter where the regiment was headed Sallie faithfully trotted along during the hurried marches by night and day.
The regiment marched to “Manassas Junction, Falmouth, Aquia Creek, and back again by way of Alexandra to Manassas and Thoroughfare Gap, Front Royal and the Shenandoah. Leaving the Shenandoah, the Eleventh Regiment went to Warrentown and Waterloo and down to the Rapidan River. It fought the battle of Cedar Mountain and then participated in Pope’s Retreat, Rappahannock and Bull Run.”
Sallie was always part of the action and came under fire for the first time at Cedar Mountain by the colors of Bull Run. She fell back with the Eleventh Regiment to Centreville and Chantilly, South Mountain, and Antietam.
Sallie also accompanied the Eleventh Regiment from Fredericksburg to Gettysburg, Mine Run, Burnside’s advance in front of Fredericksburg again and at Chancellorsville. Whatever the fate of the Eleventh Regiment Sallie was faithfully right beside them. She entered the first day’s fight at Gettysburg.
It was during the “repulse and falling back of the Eleventh’s line through Gettysburg,” Sallie became separated from her regiment. The Eleventh Regiment speculated that she was either unable or unwilling to pass through the rebel lines. It was said that Sallie returned to the crest of the hill “seeking out the dead and wounded staying with them licking their wounds” and faithfully guarding their lifeless bodies.
Sallie was found at the crest of the hill on the morning of July 4, 1863, by Captain Cook of the Twelfth Massachusetts and the Provost Guard. Cook had gone in search of stragglers and prisoners when he found Sallie. Cook quickly returned Sallie to the brigade and gave her back to her regiment.
By November 1864, Sallie had grown to be a medium-sized dog and was said to be handsomely built with a soft and silky coat. “Her chest was broad and deep and her head and ears were small. She had hazel eyes full of fire and intelligence. She was active, quick and had remarkable powers of endurance.”
On February 5, 1865, the night before Hatcher’s Run, Sallie reportedly “slept under the tent occupied by four men from Company D of her Eleventh Regiment. At intervals during the night, she awoke them with a prolonged and mournful cry. The next day, February 6, 1865, two of the men were killed by Sallie’s side on the field at Hatcher’s Run, and the other two were severely wounded. Sallie too, was killed.
In the close of his official report of the battle of Hatcher’s run, the Adjutant General said, “Sallie was killed when the regiment was making its first advance upon the enemy. She was in line with the file closers when shot. We buried her under the enemy’s fire.”
It was reported her fellow soldiers were heartbroken over the loss of their beloved mascot; the men buried her on the field of battle under heavy enemy fire.
The Eleventh Regiment fondly remembered Sallie with these words: “Sallie marched faithfully with her regiment.” One Soldier from the Eleventh Regiment said: “She was buried where she fell, by some of the boys, she….who so long had shared with them the toilsome march and perils of battle.”
In 1890, veterans of the Eleventh Regiment raised a monument at “Gettysburg, a life-size bronze statue of Sallie was included on a granite pedestal in a place of honor at the front of the monument. Her statue lies below the towering bronze figure of a skirmisher, recalling the soldiers who fought beside her and whom she guarded on Gettysburg’s fields.”
Excerpts in this article were taken from Sallie the civil war heroine.
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