Monday, November 11, 2013

JACK: A CIVIL WAR DOG

One of the better-known Civil War dogs was Jack, who served as the mascot for the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry.  Jack's regiment was made up mostly of firemen who had already adopted the brown-and-white bull terrier after he wandered into the Fifth Avenue Firehouse in Pittsburgh one day.  When the men decided to enlist, they just took Jack along with them.


Since he was really smart, it didn't take Jack long to learn what all the different bugle calls meant.  He was very gentle and obedient with the men of his regiment, but he supposedly hated rebels, and he wouldn't have anything to do with them, even when they offered him yummy food.

The 102nd Pennsylvania was organized in August, 1861.  Their first job was to defend Washington, D.C., which they did until March, 1862.  After that, they fought in a lot of battles, including Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Rappahannock, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, Sailor's Creek, and Appomattox.  The 102nd mustered out on June 28, 1865.


Out of the original 2,100 soldiers that joined up, 10 officers and 169 men were killed or died from their wounds; 23 officers and 518 men were wounded but didn't die; 1 officer and 37 men died of disease; and 5 officers and 131 men were captured or went missing.  This added up to 39 officers and 905 men.

Jack did several very important jobs in his regiment.  If the men were marching and got really thirsty, Jack ran ahead to find water, and then he hurried back to tell them by barking loudly.  If the men didn't have any rations to eat, Jack went out and caught chickens for them.  After a battle, Jack searched the field for wounded soldiers from his regiment.

Monument to 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry
at Gettysburg 

At the Battle of Malvern Hill, Jack got wounded, but he recovered.  Rebels captured him at Savage's Station, but somehow he escaped from prison.  Jack was wounded again at the Battle of Fredricksburg, and he almost died, but the soldiers in his unit managed to nurse him back to health.  Later, during the Chancellorsville Campaign, Jack was taken prisoner again, along with 94 men, and this time he was held as a POW for six months at Belle Isle.  After that, he got exchanged, just like any other soldier.


When Jack returned to his regiment, he went with them through the Battle of the Wilderness, the Spotsylvania campaigns, and the siege of Petersburg.  His men were so grateful to him that they collected $75 to buy him a fancy silver collar as a tribute.  They gave the collar to him in a special ceremony.

On December 23, 1864, while the 102nd was on furlough at Frederick, Maryland, Jack disappeared.  The men looked everywhere for him and offered a big reward for his return, he was never seen again.  It's very possible that Jack was stolen or killed by somebody who wanted his silver collar.  Or maybe he had some kind of accident or just wandered off and died someplace.  There's really no way we will ever  know what happened to Jack, and that's kind of sad, if you ask me.

An article about Jack that was published in a newspaper
or magazine during the war, but I couldn't find out where it came from.

1 comment: