Monday, August 3, 2009

A man's best friend is his dog ... or his eagle?

Because I have always been an animal lover, I can't imagine my life without pets. At present, we own five dogs, three cats, two birds, and a tank full of fish. That number has downsized considerably over the past few years. I think we've had every kind of pet imaginable, both domesticated and wild. Whenever we take a road trip, our little dachshund, Dixie, travels with us.

Soldiers fighting in the War Between the States weren't any different. They brought along their dogs and cats, as well as domesticated livestock, and made squirrels, bears, and raccoons into pets, amongst just about any other kind of wildlife. Regiments sometimes chose animals to represent them as mascots. The 8th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers even had an eagle named Old Abe represent them.

General Lee had a pet hen, George Armstrong Custer had numerous dogs, and Sallie, unofficial mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania, is carved in bronze on the regimental monument at Gettysburg. There are many other famous canines that accompanied their masters to the battlefield ... and to their death. A few are even buried there.

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