July 6, 1863 Sallie was a Lady…

There was barely a man in the regiment, who wouldn’t have walked over the proverbial “bad road & broken glass”, for that dog.   

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Irish Brigade Memorial sculpted by William R. O’Donovan, a former Confederate soldier who fought at Gettysburg  H/T Gettysburg.stonesentinels.com

Sallie was four weeks old in 1861, when she was given as a gift to 1st Lieutenant William Terry, of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  Terry made her the regimental mascot, a post she would hold for the duration of the Civil War.

Sallie was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or possibly a Pit Bull, brindle in color.  She would tag along on long marches, and kept the men of the regiment company in their camps.  She learned the drum roll announcing reveille, and loved to help wake the sleeping soldiers in the morning.

If you’ve ever had a dog in your life, you know how that goes.

There was barely a man in the regiment, who wouldn’t have walked over the proverbial “bad road & broken glass”, for that dog.   Sallie’s first battle came at Cedar Mountain, in 1862. No one thought of sending her to the rear before things got hot, so Sallie took up a position along with the colors, barking ferociously at the adversary.

There she remained throughout the entire engagement, as she would do at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Spotsylvania.

Sallie(1)
Sallie, the smallest member of the 11th PA Infantry Regiment, is one of only two dogs so memorialized at Gettysburg, the only dog who was actually In the battle.

It was said that Sallie only hated three things:  Rebels, Democrats, and Women.

Sallie marched with “her” soldiers in review, in the spring of 1863.  Abraham Lincoln was reviewing the army at the time, when he spotted the dog from the center of the reviewing stand, and raised his famous top hat in salute.

At Gettysburg, Sallie was separated from her unit in the chaos of the first day’s fighting. They found her five days later, on July 6, parched with thirst and weakened by hunger.

She’d been standing guard over her dead and dying comrades, since July 1.

It’s been said that only a dog is capable of that kind of loyalty, yet virtue in one is capable of inspiring virtue in another. So it was on February 5, 1865. Sallie was struck in the head by a bullet at Hatcher’s Run. She was killed instantly.  Several men of the 11th PA laid down their arms and buried her, right then and there.  Even though they were still under fire from the Confederate side.

There is a tale about Sallie, I don’t know if it’s true.  Probably not but it’s a nice story.

After the battle in which Sallie was killed, the soldiers were moving out when a small whining was heard from within a hollowed-out tree.  Someone went to the tree and found several small puppies, believed to be Sallie’s.  They’d had no idea that she was pregnant, or how puppies came to be in that hollowed out tree.  The soldiers gave them to local civilians, so that Sallie’s bloodline might live on.

Sallie statueTwenty-seven years after Gettysburg, surviving veterans of the regiment returned to dedicate a memorial to those members of the 11th Pennsylvania, who lost their lives on that field of battle.

Today, 1,320 memorial statues, monuments and markers dot the landscape of the Gettysburg battlefield.  Among all of them there are only two, raised in the memory of a dog.  The first is a Celtic cross, erected in honor of New York’s Irish Brigade.  Ironically, it is sculpted by a Confederate veteran of the battle.  At the foot of the cross rests a life-sized likeness of an Irish wolfhound, symbolizing honor and fidelity..

66be53833fa8c6663ee4542b2d28d73cThe other includes a brindle colored Terrier, named Sallie.  The only one of the two to have actually participated in the battle.

The monument depicts an upright Union soldier, rifle at the ready.  By unanimous consent of the veterans themselves, Sallie’s likeness looks out from the foot of the statue, where she guards over the spirits of “her boys”, for all eternity.

“Sallie was a lady,
she was a soldier too.
She marched beside the colors,
our own red white and blue.
It was in the days of our civil war,
that she lived her life so true”.

Feature image, top of page:  Only known picture of Sallie, herself.  Photographer unknown.
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Author: Cape Cod Curmudgeon

I'm not a "Historian". I'm a husband, a father, a son and a grandfather. A history geek and sometimes curmudgeon, who still likes to learn new things. I began writing "Today in History" nearly six years ago, as sort of a self-guided history course.  I told myself I’d write 365, the leap year changed that to 366. As I write this, I believe there are over 600. I make every effort to get my facts straight, but I'm as good at being wrong as the next guy. I offer these "Today in History" stories in hopes that you'll enjoy reading them, as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Rick Long

13 thoughts on “July 6, 1863 Sallie was a Lady…”

    1. I’ve read that the 1st Maryland (CSA) had a canine mascot with them on the third day at Culp’s Hill, but the dog was killed. I’d love to know more about the story. The information is hard to come by.

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      1. The dog of the 1st Maryland Battalion (now called the 2nd Maryland, to avoid confusion with the Union 1st Maryland regiment) has come to be known as Grace; however, to the best of our knowledge, no one as definitively documented that this was the dog’s actual name. Author Michael Zucchero, who researched the story for his wonderful book “Loyal Hearts: Histories of American Civil War Canines,” was unable to locate any contemporary reference identifying the dog by name. It’s very possible that ” Grace” came to be associated with the dog only after the battle, when the unusual circumstances of the dog’s death and battlefield burial became known thanks to a letter written by a Union officer who was present. The officer was writing to artist Peter Frederick Rothermel, who then included the dog in his painting of the Confederate charge at Culp’s Hill. You can read about the dog, General Thomas Kane’s letter, and Rothermel’s painting here: https://loyaltyofdogs.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/grace-a-loyal-confederate-mascot-at-gettysburg/.

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  1. Great great post. “Abraham Lincoln was reviewing the army at the time, when he spotted the dog from the center of the reviewing stand, and raised his famous top hat in salute.” That is respect.

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      1. Yes, it does… I love dogs and history…I currently have a Saint Bernard named Molly… unconditional love and loyalty.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We have had two Saints and we got them from a Saint rescue because not many people will adopt them. We have had her for 10 years… I like Chihuahuas, they are protective…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I wonder why they’re difficult to adopt, Saint Bernards are beautiful animals. Honestly, the only concern that I would have would be the same with any of the Giant breeds. Their life expectancy seems to be somewhat shorter than the smaller breeds. It’s hard enough having to say goodbye to them, as it is.

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      4. One of the reasons is people think they drool a lot but the two we have had didn’t hardly at all. They shed a ton but that is the worst thing. They don’t eat a lot unless they are puppies… I think it’s the size also…they are inside dogs where I live because Nashville gets hot in the summer…they cannot deal with hot…. Our first one was 175 lbs she only lived to 9. Molly is 125 lbs or so and in really good health.at 10…
        My mom would not allow me to have a dog in the house… so what did I do when I grew up? Got one one of the biggest ones possible… but I don’t regret it. I love all dogs though.

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