One of the men who enlisted in this Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry as a private was named Peter Bodette. He was born on January 30, 1819 in Lower Canada, which still belonged to Great Britain in those days. His father was Elazar Salom Beaudet, and his mother was Marie Lafleur. So as you can see, his ancestors were of French descent. Probably, he changed the spelling of his name so that people of English descent could figure out how to pronounce it.
When Peter Bodette was 15 years old, he came to the U.S. and settled in Vermont. He married a woman named Louise Mellette, but she died in 1846. After that, he married a woman named Josephine Orcutt. The Bodettes moved to Waukesha County, Wisconsin in 1857. All together, Mr. Bodette fathered 15 children. All but one of his children outlived him. The one who didn't was his oldest, Peter Jr., who had joined the 8th Vermont Regiment. He was killed only one week before his father joined up in Wisconsin, at age 43.
Okay, so like I told you, the 28th Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry got shipped to Arkansas to do some fighting at places like Helena, Montana Elba, and Mark's Mills. When the soldiers were in Fort Bluff, Private Bodette found a little puppy. He was black on his sides and back, and yellow underneath. The pup soon grew up to be a fairly good-sized dog. The men liked having a canine mascot around, so they fed him and took care of him.
One morning in the summer of 1864, Captain Thomas N. Stevens was riding past the barracks right at dawn. The dog ran out and started barking, which spooked the captain's horse, and he was almost thrown off. He was so mad that he pulled his pistol out and fired 3 shots at the dog. Two of the shots hit him, but the men nursed their mascot back to health. When Colonel Edmund B. Gray heard about the shooting incident, he named the dog Calamity, which everyone called him after that. I couldn't find any information about what Calamity's original name was, even though I'm sure they must have called him something before he was Calamity.
One way that the dog was useful to the regiment was that he would go out with the men who were foraging for food. The men were not allowed to shoot any hogs, but if they could kill them, they could have them to eat. So Calamity would chase down a hog and then hold it by the ear until the men could come and kill it. I don't know why the men weren't allowed to shoot the hogs, but maybe a gunshot would give away their position. Of course, a hog being held by the ear by a dog would not be very quiet. So maybe the foragers were trying to save ammunition. I wish my sources would have explained this, but they didn't.
|The Battle of Spanish Fort|
Peter Bodette's fellow officers gave Calamity to him at the end of the war, and we have to assume he took the dog back to Wisconsin with him. I wish I had some information about what happened to Calamity after that, but I don't. What I do know is that the Bodette family moved to northwestern Wisconsin in the early 1870s, and Peter spent the rest of his life there. He died at Boyceville on July 29th, 1897, of kidney disease and congestive heart failure, and he was buried in Downing Cemetery.