Today in History:

Pets in the Civil War

Despite orders to the contrary, many soldiers kept pets with them including dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife. One regiment from Wisconsin even had a pet eagle that was carried on its own perch next to the regimental flags. General Lee was purported to have had a pet chicken that faithfully delivered a fresh egg for the general everyday. By far the most popular pets appears to have been dogs and their presence with a master in camp or on the march was often overlooked by high commanders. Many officers, including General George Armstrong Custer who kept a number of dogs around his headquarters, favored the hardiness of these loyal companions and their companionship was, as one soldier put it, a "soothing connection" with home. Both the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry and the 1st Maryland Infantry (CSA) had singular dogs that followed the men through the most difficult campaigns including Gettysburg. Sallie, the 11th Pennsylvania's unofficial mascot, is remembered in a bronze likeness on the regimental monument at Gettysburg and symoblized there for its loyalty to the dead of the regiment. The canine that accompanied the 1st Maryland was regrettably killed in action on July 3 at Culp's Hill, after having participated in the charge of the regiment. So struck by the animal's gallantry and loyalty to its human companions, a Union officer ordered the animal be given a proper burial alongside the dead of 1st Maryland.