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.