Wednesday, October 2, 2013

CURLY: A CIVIL WAR DOG

Curly was a liver-colored water spaniel with a few white spots, a white face, and intelligent brown eyes.  He enlisted with Company A of the 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on April 19, 1861.  The way Curly came to enlist was that a lady named Mrs. John Shellabarger, who decided she had too many dogs, gave Curly to John Crouse, a member of Company A.  Mrs. Shellabarger told John Crouse that Curly was no good on earth for anything she knew of, so he would probably make a good soldier.  The men in the regiment soon fell in love with Curly, and he turned out to be a very good soldier indeed.


The 11th Regiment of the Ohio Infantry was first mustered in during April of 1861 at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati.  The regiment was formed because President Lincoln had asked for 75,000 volunteers to help fight against the Confederates.

Camp Dennison from Old Aunt Roady's Hill
Drawn by Johnson in the Zouave Lt. Guard, Company A

At first, the 11th Ohio was just organized for a period of 3 months, and they spent that whole time at Camp Dennison.  Then they were reorganized on June 20 and mustered in to serve for 3 years.  Some of the biggest battles they fought in were Second Bull Run, Antietam, Chickamauga, the Siege of Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign, the Siege of Atlanta, and Sherman's March to the Sea.

During their time of service, the regiment lost 152 men total.  Four of these were officers and 50 were enlisted men.  Ninety-eight men died of disease.

Religious service at Camp Dennison

When the Ohio 11th mustered in for 3 years, Curly was included as a brevet comrade of his company, and the men insisted that his name be on the roster.  He went with the troops to West Virginia, where he was very active in all the campaigns.  Whenever there was a skirmish, he liked to run between the lines, barking at the enemy soldiers.

On August 17, 1862, the regiment boarded some steam boats at Camp Piatt and headed down the Kanawha River toward the Ohio River.  The general, J.D. Cox, had decided there were too many dogs among the soldiers, since every company had at least one by then.  He assigned a man to throw every dog overboard during the night and let it sink or swim.  But the men of Company A were determined to save Curly.  The man that the general had sent to carry out his orders had to report back that he would be "a goner" if he tried to harm Curly.

11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Monument
The Final Attack Trail
Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD

Sometime later, some men from Company I were doing target practice.  Curly ran into the bushes behind the targets, and he got shot by mistake.  The wound was in his neck, right about where he wore a badge that said, "I am company A's dog.  Whose dog are you?"  A nurse was assigned to take care of Curly, and soon he was well again and able to report for duty.

After that, at the Battle of Chickamauga, Curly stayed on the field with the wounded soldiers.  A rebel soldier tried to lure him away with some food, but Curly refused to leave his comrades.  Then a parole was given for the wounded soldiers, and Curly went back to the Union side with them.  But when he got there, the captain of the 10th Ohio saw him and decided he would like to keep Curly for his own dog.  So he tied Curly to his tent.

Meanwhile, the soldiers from Company A heard that Curly had come back from the battlefield, and they started looking for him.  Soon they found him and asked to have him back.  But the captain of the 10th said Curly was his dog, and he refused to let him go.  Then the colonel of the 10th heard all the arguing, and came to see what was going on.  After he learned the story, the colonel ordered that Curly be untied, and Curly was very happy to go back to his friends.

Original headboards in cemetery,
National Soldiers Home, Dayton, OH

In 1864, the regiment fought in the Battle of Mission Ridge, and when they were coming home on the train, Curly fell out of the car somewhere near Bowling Green, KY.  One member of the regiment got sent back to find the dog, and he discovered that Curly had a broken leg.  The leg was patched up, and Curly went back to Dayton to live with one of his old soldier comrades who was named Baggot.

After the war, whenever there was a reunion of the 11th, one of the men brought Curly to it.  Later on, the dog went to live out the last of his 12 years at the National Soldiers Home in Dayton.  He died among his soldier friends, and they buried him on the grounds of the Home.



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