Friday, January 25, 2013

Dogs Of War- Fredericksburg

From the Tiffin Weekly Tribune, January 9, 1863 via the Philadelphia Enquirer comes a heart wrenching story of one of the many pets that “served” in the armies of both sides during the American Civil War.

A Dog On The Battlefield

On Monday last, as Hon. John Covode, in company of other officers, was passing over the battle-field beyond Fredericksburg,their attention was called to a small dog lying by a corpse. Mr. Covode halted for a few minutes to see if life was extinct. Raising the coat from the mans face he found him dead. The dog looking wistfully up, ran to the dead mans face,and kissed his silent lips. Such devotion in a small dog was so singular that Mr. Covode examined some papers on the body and found it to be that of Sergeant W.H. Brown, Company C, 91st Penna.
The dog was shivering with the cold, but refused to leave his masters body, and as the coat was thrown over the face again he seemed very uneasy, and tried to get under it to the mans face. He had, it seems, followed the regiment into battle, and stuck to his master, and when he fell remained with him, refusing to leave him or eat anything. As the party returned an ambulance was carrying the corpse to a little grove of trees for interment, and the little dog followed, the only mourner at the funeral, as the heroes comrades had been called to some other point.[1]

A Civil War Dog

The 91st Pennsylvania was organized at Philadelphia between September and December, 1861. At the Battle of Fredericksburg they were part of the First Brigade (Tyler's), Third Division, (Humphreys') Fifth Army Corps (Butterfield) of Major General Joe Hooker's Center Grand Division. They were destined to be hurled against the stone wall at the base of Marye's Heights the late afternoon of that terrible December 13, 1862.

What Brown and his comrade faced.


W. (William) H. Brown enrolled in Company C of the 91st on September 13, 1861 at Philadelphia as a private. He was later promoted to sergeant. The card on file at the Pennsylvania state archives does not give any particulars about him other than his age, 25, at the time of enrollment. He may have also served in the 9th Pennsylvania Infantry (3 months) prior to enrolling in the 91st , a 3 year regiment. A William H. Brown enrolled in the 3rd at Chester (very near Philadelphia) on April 21, 1861 and mustered out with the company on July 29, 1861. Again, no information given other than the age, which was the same. Given the close proximity of Chester to Philadelphia it is a possibility they are one and the same. [2] The roll of Company C of the 91ST lists his last rank held, which was Sergeant.***

What of the dog? One can speculate but nothing further is known of the poor creature. He is just another of the forgotten pets that served their masters during the war. Perhaps he attached himself to another regiment, or he later caught up with his old comrades. Or perhaps he rested on his masters breast until he, too, departed life and from that bloody field.
The Picket

1-Tiffin Weekly Tribune, January 3, 1863, page 1, column 7

***Muster Roll of the 91st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission This is just one hand written muster roll of the Pennsylvania Volunteer units, in 16 volumes, from 1st to 215th, 3 month, 9 month, Militia and 3 year regiments. It is written in a very legible hand and should be helpful to those interested in Pennsylvania regiments. This link is for the main index.

Drawing Credit
A.C. Redwood – circa 1894
Photo Credit
Dalmatian belonging to  Rufus Ingalls

1 comment:

  1. Always good to see the loyal dogs of the American Civil War remembered. Thank you for sharing this story.