Sunday, July 8, 2018

American History: Sallie Ann Jarrett, Canine Soldier

The Civil War is a seminal event in American history.  Without question this conflict between the states will continue to live on as both one of the most tragic and storied periods in the history of our country and the world.  History tells us the over 618,000 men and women died during the war.  The Battle of Gettysburg, in conjunction with the Battle of Vicksburg, is seen as the turning point of the Civil War in which the Union finally achieved the upper hand.  Up to this point, General Robert E. Lee had not lost a battle.  The Battle of Gettysburg took place in  Gettysburg took place from July 1-3, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and represents the bloodiest single battle on the North American continent.  With a total of over 51,000 dead at Gettysburg, it inspired the National Soldiers Cemetery in Gettysburg which was dedicated by Abraham Lincoln on November of 1863, and gave us the Gettysburg Address.  

The Civil War represents over 611,000 lives lost, and likely more human interest stories than that.  But... within all of the fighting, all of the blood spilled there was one canine interest story.. the story of Sallie Ann Jarrett.  Sallie, as she was known, was the canine mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry.  She was given to Captain William Terry of Company 1 in May of 1861 while the unit was training in West Chester, PA at Camp Wayne.  The men of the company named the Brindle colored English Bull Terrier in honor of a young lady whom they admired and their colonel, Phaon Jarrett. 

Sallie grew up as a soldier dog and was known to only bark at three things: women, democrats and rebels.  She was a regular participant during drills and color guard exercises.  She was known to position herself at the head of the march as the regiment would leave camp next to Colonel Richard Coulter.  She even marched with the 11th
11th Pennsylvania Monument
Pennsylvania in two reviews in front of President Abraham Lincoln.  Sallie was known to be right in the thick of fighting, taking her position on the front lines and barking with great ferocity at the enemy.  Sallie was a veteran of the battles at Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Petersburg.

Sallie became separated from her unit during the first day of fighting on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg during the Union retreat to Cemetery Hill.  The people in the unit feared that Sallie has been killed during the melee while the Confederates routed the Union on day one of the battle.  When the smoke cleared, and the air was filled with the stench of the dead, and the moans of the dying the men of the 11th found Sallie back on Oak Ridge.  Oak Ridge was the position that the 11th fought on during the battle on July 1st.  Sallie refused to leave, instead staying behind to protect her dead and wounded companions.  The men of the 11th returned Sallie to her unit, and they marched on to their next fight.

On February 6th, 1865, the Pennsylvania 11th marched on Hatcher's Run in Virginia.  During the initial charge, Sallie was struck by a Confederate bullet and killed.  The fighting was intense at Hatcher's Run, but the soldiers of the Pennsylvania 11th picked up Sallie, and gave her a proper burial at Hatcher's Run.

When the veterans of the Pennsylvania 11th were designing their monument in 1890 at Gettysburg, they thought it only fitting that Sallie Ann Jarrett was remembered as a special part of the unit that fought at Gettysburg, and throughout the war.  When you visit Oak Ridge at Gettysburg, on the side of the monument in which the Confederates were charging the ridge lays a full size statue of Sallie -- facing the enemy and defending her unit just as she would have on any other day.  Her statue is lying down, resting as she finally got to do in February of 1865.

Bruce holds a degrees in Computer Science, Biblical History and American History from Temple University, Liberty University and American Public University.  He is a member of the Epsilon Pi Tau Honor Society, Golden Key Honor Society, Historical Studies Honor Society and the Saber and Scroll Society.  He has worked in educational technology for over 20 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  

1 comment:

  1. It's always wonderful to see loyal Sallie remembered! Although dogs didn't have an official military role in the Civil War, the bonds of camaraderie and trust that they shared with their soldiers were no different than the relationship that today's US soldiers share with their Military Working Dogs. A dog truly is a soldier's best friend.