After the Carnage of Antietam, Man’s Best Friend Stood Loyally By

Grayfriars Bobby, a Scottish Skye Terrier identified for as soon as guarding his proprietor’s grave in Edinburgh for 14 years, is an apt reminder of the deep and lengthy connection and affection between canines and people all through historical past. For so long as there have been troopers within the earliest shaped armies, they’ve had canines as pets and mascots. In a private, fashionable instance, my son’s Military scout platoon in Afghanistan adopted a feminine Afghan Kuchi pet that it named “Scout.” Scout was so particular and vital that Jason went by way of appreciable effort to have her despatched dwelling when he left, and she or he lives fortunately with him in the US right this moment. At Antietam in September 1862, numerous models in each armies have been accompanied by devoted canine companions, and plenty of of them went into battle alongside their human comrades.

Essentially the most well-known of those military canines was a Staffordshire terrier named Sallie, adopted as a pet by the eleventh Pennsylvania Infantry within the spring of 1861. Many right this moment know Sallie from her sculpture on the entrance of the regiment’s monument at Gettysburg. Sallie turned a favourite with the regiment and a celeb within the brigade. George Kimball, a soldier within the twelfth Massachusetts, wrote how a lot he loved visiting the eleventh Pennsylvania’s camp simply to look at Sallie when the regiment carried out gown parade. He wrote of observing the “drum corps slowly marching down the entrance, the colonel [Richard Coulter] with folded arms calmly trying into the faces of the lads and Sallie mendacity on the toes of the colour bearer, as if she liked to be within the shadow of the flag.”

It was stated that if the eleventh skilled a very extreme march, the unit might be counted upon to be represented at its conclusion “by a colonel, a flag and a canine,” for Sallie by no means straggled. She additionally by no means shirked a battle and went in with the eleventh when it marched by way of David Miller’s Cornfield at Antietam the morning of
September 17, 1862.

The canine that would salute

Not removed from Sallie, a black-and-white Newfoundland breed trotted alongside the Hagerstown Pike with its proprietor, Captain Werner von Bachelle of the sixth Wisconsin. The German-born von Bachelle was considerably a soldier of fortune. He had skilled at a Swiss navy academy and noticed service within the French military and with Garibaldi within the battle for Italian unification.

A fellow officer described the German as a “tall and stalwart soldier” and inflexible disciplinarian. As a result of his English was restricted and his demeanor reserved and formal, he had few buddies among the many regiment’s officers, however the troopers of his Firm F developed a passion for his or her captain. Earlier in the summertime, when the sixth Wisconsin was stationed close to Fredericksburg, Va., the black-and-white canine wandered into Firm F’s camp. The lads knew how a lot von Bachelle liked animals, in order that they gave him the canine as a pet. The 2 have been quickly inseparable, turning into the “most devoted buddies on earth.”

Von Bachelle skilled the creature to present navy salutes “and different outstanding issues”—the place he went, he was all the time accompanied by his canine. That morning of September 17, it was with him as they superior astride the Hagerstown Pike on the spearpoint of the Union 1st Corps’ assault. Firm F stretched straight throughout the turnpike within the regimental line. They handed the David Miller Farm and the left of the regiment entered Miller’s 30-acre cornfield. The bottom sloped as much as a slight east-west ridge simply south of the corn. Because the regiment neared this level, a Accomplice limber and gun abruptly burst into view and disappeared behind the ridge driving south alongside the pike. Von Bachelle’s firm was ordered to hustle to the ridge and shoot up the enemy gun staff. After they reached the crest of the ridge, they have been confronted by two small brigades of Accomplice infantry mendacity at their proper entrance. The Rebels rapidly rose and blasted Firm F. Hit at the very least 12 instances, von Bachelle was killed immediately.

German-born Captain Werner von Bachelle of the sixth Wisconsin bonded instantly with a stray canine given him by his males. (Wisconsin Historic Society)

a mascot for each firm

A soldier within the 1st Delaware, writing below the pseudonym “Billy,” famous that each firm within the regiment had a canine as a mascot, however the boldest of the lot was “Scott,” who belonged to Firm G and adopted it at Antietam through the regiment’s assault on the Sunken Lane. In response to Billy, when a stable shot struck close to Scott, the canine commenced digging furiously on the spot. At one level, Scott mounted a cost on the enemy, operating up barking to what was in all probability the rail fence on the southern fringe of Samuel Mumma’s cornfield, the place he “put his paws on it, intentionally gazed at Secesh, then beat a masterly retreat again to the corporate.” He then proceeded to run backwards and forwards alongside the regiment’s line, and though “the bullets rained thick and quick” he escaped unscathed. Scott was exceedingly fortunate, as the first Delaware suffered 230 casualties that day—the heaviest lack of any regiment in Maj. Gen. William French’s third Division.

The sixth New Hampshire had what was in all probability a Chesapeake breed, an ocher-colored canine that they had adopted as a pet in Elizabeth Metropolis, N.C. It turned often called the “Sixth Regiment Canine” and accompanied the regiment in camp, on the march, and in battle. On the morning of September 17, it joined the regiment when it and the 2nd Maryland made the second try and seize the Rohrback Bridge. “Canine typically concern firearms when discharged in volleys,” recalled the regimental historian, however “this one went fearlessly into battle.” Like Scott and Sallie, the Sixth Regiment Canine survived the fight its regiment engaged in that day.

However identical to the lads they went into battle with, there was not a contented ending for some canines. Captain von Bachelle’s Newfoundland loyally remained by his aspect when he was killed and refused to go away his physique despite the fact that urged to take action by a number of the captain’s males. This was one of the vital hotly contested spots on the whole Antietam battlefield and models fought over the realm all through the morning. The following morning a burial element from the sixth Wisconsin discovered von Bachelle’s beloved pet mendacity throughout the captain’s physique. They buried them collectively. And Sallie might have survived Antietam however she didn’t survive the battle. She was wounded at Spotsylvania and killed at Hatcher’s Run in February 1865. Like Grayfriars Bobby, Sallie and von Bachelle’s Newfoundland have been loyal to their human companions unto dying. 

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