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Canine Comfort and Camaraderie on the Battlefield

One of the most famous members of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment is remembered for being loyal, faithful and devoted. In fact, this member was so beloved that a bronze statue of their likeness is featured on the regiment’s monument on the Gettysburg battlefield. But this wasn’t a decorated soldier. It was a bull terrier named Sallie, the mascot of the regiment.

During the Civil War, dogs were a source of companionship, support and love for the troops. Sallie is one of the most famous dogs of the war. She had been with the soldiers since she was a puppy, "...licked the wounds of her fallen comrades and remained one of its most beloved members" — and she had even met President Abraham Lincoln, according to the National Park Service.

Adams County Historical Society's Tim Smith shares about Sallie in one of the historical society’s Monuments Monday videos. Citing the book The War Dog written by John Lippy, owner of a local tailor shop, Smith recalls Sallie's service: "... Sallie never had to be coddled or cared for, she endured what the men endured, she suffered when they suffered, she hungered when they hungered, she stuck it out through thick and thin, through lean and fat, through good and bad."

One of the only known photos of Sallie

On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Sallie was with her regiment as they faced against Iverson’s Brigade. Later, when retreating, she became separated from her outfit and returned to the crest of the hill where the fighting had taken place. There, for the next three days, she stayed with the dying and wounded men in her regiment.

Smith shares: “…Sallie licked the wounds of those that could not move, and she guarded the lifeless bodies of those who had fallen. Not for one moment did she desert her post. … After the wounded had been removed to the hospital, Sallie permitted herself to be taken to the brigade headquarters. Throughout her three-day vigil, the little dog went without food and probably without sleep. She was weak and emaciated from the enforced fast. To everyone who had witnessed the violence and fury of the battle, it seemed a miracle that she could have survived. It was purely conjecture as to why she wasn’t struck by a bullet, why she wasn’t wounded by an exploding shell, why she wasn’t captured or why she wasn’t slain by the passing enemy troops.”

Sadly, Sallie was struck by a bullet and killed during the Battle of Hatcher’s Run in Virginia in February 1865, only a few short months before the war’s end. Members of the regiment were crushed by her death and buried her amid the battle, not considering their own safety.

Visitors to the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment’s monument on Doubleday Avenue sometimes leave dog treats in front of her bronze replica.

50th reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg. The 11th Pennsylvania Infantry in front of their monument, where the bronze replica of Sallie is located.

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