Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America's past. These stories are about Americans - people just like you - who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you. Kate Kelly
Sallie, Civil War Mascot

Sallie, Civil War Mascot

In 1861 the captain of the brand new Pennsylvania infantry unit (the 11th Volunteer Infantry)  was busy training his regiment in West Chester, Pennsylvania, when a townsperson presented him with a four-to-five week old puppy, a bull terrier.

With so many people around, the puppy was quickly absorbed as part of the unit, and the men named her after one of the more beautiful young ladies who had caught their attention in West Chester.  Sallie was fed and played with during the weeks and months that followed, and when she heard the sound of reveille, she came immediately, always among the first for roll call.

Sallie’s first battle was at Cedar Mountain in 1862.  It was reported that she remained right with the color guard throughout the entire battle.  She continued this pattern of staying with the front line at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. The soldiers reported that she raced around and barked at the enemy, providing moral support and inspiration to the men.

At Gettysburg, Sallie was separated from her unit when the men fell back during the first day of fighting.  She returned to the field where the regiment had started and waited with those who had fallen there.

After the Confederate retreat, a soldier from a Massachusetts unit found her on the field and recognized that she was the dog that accompanied the Pennsylvania infantry. He returned her to her regiment.

In May of 1863 she was wounded at Spotsylvania but one of the men patched up her neck and she stayed with the unit.  At Hatcher’s Run (February 1865), Sallie’s luck ran out.  She moved forward with the first line of men and was shot and died instantly. As the second line moved through, they found her body.  The soldiers, many of them weeping, buried Sallie in the field where they found her.

In 1890, survivors from the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry dedicated a monument at Gettysburg.  The monument is dedicated to those from Pennsylvania who fought for the Union, and it shows a vigilant soldier, standing watch.  At the base of the statue is a bronze likeness of a dog…it is Sallie.

If you visit Gettysburg, be sure to stop at this monument on Oak Ridge.  People who drive by too quickly will miss the statue of the loyal little dog who gave her life in order to be true to her unit.

 



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7 thoughts on “Sallie, Civil War Mascot”

  1. Enjoyed your retelling of Sallie’s story! A little advice to visitors driving by the 11th PA monument: take a moment to park the car and walk around to the front of the monument (facing away from the road) to see Sallie. Many of her visitors leave a flag, coin or biscuit as a gift for her. Some, like members of the Westmoreland County (PA) Historical Society (home county of the 11th commanding officer, Richard Coulter), even have their photo taken with her as a special souvenir. You can visit the historical society’s Web site and see the members’ photo with Sallie within the slide show here: http://www.starofthewest.org/)

  2. As being a reenactor of the 11th Pa. Vol. I have Sallie as also a reenactress. Sallie was a Staffordshire bULL Terrier. This was a breed that was in England and brought to the states. Sallie and I do a lot of living histories to keep the civl war history alive. We do turn head when we march in parades, you would be surprised how many know who she is.

  3. Thank you so much for this additional information! The reenacting you do is important in carrying on the story of what happened during the Civil War.

  4. Great story Sam.Like to point out that her breed is also what we call today Pit Bulls which are called Staffordshire Terriers for classification to compete in shows like the AKC show held at MSG each
    February.These dogs have gotten a bad reputation over the years for the ways that man has used them for
    i.e.fighting dogs.But through the efforts of many Americans who realize that man is the reason they
    have gotten this bad rap there are many people today that dedicate their time,effort,and money to reverse this opinion of these dogs
    who by the way are one of the top breeds of dogs noted for loyalty and love for man.Many of these dogs that were used for fighting have been able to be rescued and even adopted by families which shows that even after being badly mistreated can turn the other cheek and still be loyal,loving pets even after what man has used them for.People like Tia Torrez and Shorty Rossi are probably the top people in leading the fight to have this misunderstood breed righted when they were the ones that were wronged by the people that brought them up like this.Their shows can be seen on Animal Planet.

  5. Thank you for the additional info. These dogs were very common in the early 20th century before they had the reputation for fighting. Groups have done a great job of finding good homes for many pit bulls, which is wonderful.




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