“He Was ‘Tail Up’ All Day”: Meet the Very Good Boy Who Fought (and Fetched) in the Civil War


One of the extra touching and little-known mascot tales of the Civil Struggle is that of “Main,” described as a “giant black Newfoundland cross-breed canine,” weighing about 110 kilos.

Main had his first expertise within the struggle whereas with the first New Hampshire Infantry, a three-month regiment, and was with them on the First Battle of Bull Run. Through the battle on July 21, 1861, Main acquired a slight wound and afterward would return with the regiment to Portsmouth, N.H.

However on October 6, 1861, he volunteered once more, leaping aboard a southbound prepare containing a newly recruited two-year regiment, the tenth Maine Infantry. He adopted Captain Charles Emerson of Firm H into the prepare automotive and was instantly adopted by the lads of the corporate and given the identify “Main.”

A comrade recalled that whereas the tenth Maine was stationed on the Relay Home railroad transportation hub close to Baltimore in November 1861, Main “was at all times among the many most superior of the pickets, and no canine was ever allowed to cross the strains with impunity.”

On December 6, 1861, Captain George H. Nye of Firm Okay, tenth Maine, penned the next to his spouse, Charlotte: “We now have some home animals in the home –first-we have a dog-weighs a few hundred kilos–he’s on the sick-list at present–he has an ideal dislike for the engine because the engineer squirted some water on him the opposite day, since then every time he sees the automobiles coming he places for the engine on the clear leap. Right now he acquired a bit of too close to and the cow-catcher gave him a reasonably onerous thump—knocking off a chunk of his nostril and his rump….I suppose tomorrow he’ll rise up in fine condition and be a wiser canine.”

On Might 25, 1862, throughout Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks’ retreat following the First Battle of Winchester, Main was so crippled by the lengthy march that he may hardly stroll and was finally captured and spent two days behind Accomplice strains earlier than “escaping” to rejoin his comrades in Firm H.

Recounting the September 1862 Battle of Antietam, regimental historian Lieutenant John Mead Gould wrote, “Outdated canine ‘Main’ behaved properly below fireplace, barking fiercely, and maintaining a gradual growl from the time we went in until we got here out. He had thus contributed his half in direction of the uproar which some take into account so important in battle. He had proven a lot real pluck, furthermore, that the lads of H had been bragging of his barking, and of his biting on the sounds of the bullets, asserting apart from that he was ‘tail up’ all day.”

A comical—although probably deadly—trait started to be noticed of Main throughout battle: He would leap into the air to snap at bullets as they whizzed by or as they created small filth clouds after they hit the bottom.

 Counted On to Fetch…or Struggle

The “capt Stearns” on this picture was Daniel Stearns of the 104th Ohio, Harvey’s proprietor. Stearns was gravely
wounded at Nashville, as was Harvey. (USAHEC)

MAJOR, OF COURSE, was not the one canine to discover a deserving house as a regimental or firm mascot in both the Union or Accomplice armies. There have been a number of well-known ones—together with “Jack,” a stray bull terrier adopted by the Pittsburgh-based 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry. In accordance with the regiment’s troopers, a lot of them former members of Pittsburgh’s Niagara Volunteer Hearth Firm, Jack would be part of them on the march and would stand close to the “firing line” throughout fight. Jack, they harassed, comprehended bugle calls and would obey orders. He was additionally recognized to roam the battlefield within the wake of preventing, looking for out wounded and useless “comrades.” Captured twice, Jack at one level survived six months in a Accomplice jail camp. One other canine mascot of observe was “Sallie,” a brindle Staffordshire bull terrier adopted by the eleventh Pennsylvania (remembered with the memorial under). Sallie was with the regiment at Gettysburg, famously standing guard over wounded or useless Federals on Oak Ridge in the course of the battle, and thereafter survived a number of intense engagements earlier than being killed in motion at Hatcher’s Run, Va., in February 1865. She was, appropriately, buried on the battlefield. A white bulldog named “Harvey” (proven proper) was a mascot of the 104th Ohio—the so-called “Barking Canine Regiment”—and was wounded in motion at Kennesaw Mountain in the course of the Atlanta Marketing campaign and later at Nashville. And let’s not overlook “York,” who faithfully accompanied Union Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Asboth, becoming a member of him at Pea Ridge and in the course of the Siege of Corinth, Miss. Or “Calamity,” referred to as a foraging specialist with Firm B of the twenty eighth Wisconsin. Only a few! For these of us with cherished canine who, sure, shrink and conceal on the sound of thunder or fireworks, we salute these canine anomalies. –C.Okay.H.

Sallie’s Gettysburg monument. (Photo Courtesy of Melissa A. Winn)

Main returned house to Maine with the two-year enlistees of the tenth Maine, and the regiment was mustered out on Might 8, 1863. Information of the canine’s deeds within the struggle had unfold to his native New Hampshire, and the veterans of the tenth Maine confronted an try by his former grasp to say Main as his property. The boys of Firm H supplied to buy the canine on the proprietor’s worth, however he insisted on having the canine returned. Emerson refused to return Main, and the proprietor subsequent appealed to Colonel George L. Beal, the regimental commander.

Beal refused to become involved, saying the matter didn’t concern him and insisted the proprietor settle Main’s possession with the lads of Firm H. Whereas the canine’s proprietor was assembly with Beal, two of the Firm H males took Main away from camp and saved him out of sight. The proprietor was pressured to return house with out his canine or the cash the lads had supplied.

Officers Charles Emerson (left) and John Mead Gould (proper) figured prominently within the 1st, tenth, and twenty ninth Maine’s historical past from the struggle’s outset, with each surviving the battle. It was Emerson whom Main adopted onto a prepare, rapidly changing into the tenth’s feisty mascot. (Nicholas Picerno assortment)

The troopers paid to have a silver collar made for Main. On the collar was engraved an oak leaf, signifying the rank of main. Additionally inscribed on the collar had been the battles through which Main participated.

The collar was given to 1st Lt. Granville Blake, who assumed duty for Main after Emerson grew to become lieutenant colonel, retaining Main at his house in Auburn, Maine. On December 16, 1863, Blake was commissioned a captain in Firm H of the twenty ninth Maine Infantry, made up of many tenth Maine veterans, together with the trustworthy Main.

Main accompanied Blake and the twenty ninth Maine to New Orleans, arriving on February 16, 1864. They might participate in Banks’ ill-fated Pink River Marketing campaign. It might be Main’s second marketing campaign with Banks—and his final.

In late March 1864, Main went lacking for a brief interval. Gould wrote in his journal: “The canine Main is misplaced: was final seen in Washington [Louisiana] the place he went in swimming with the Reg’t. Within the tenth he used to march on the head of the Reg’t. as Firm H was on the fitting however within the twenty ninth H is close to the left and outdated Mage is wild when it comes marching time….” Shortly afterward, Main returned to the regiment.

On April 8, 1864, the twenty ninth Maine entered the struggle on the Battle of Mansfield. Whereas positioned at Chapman’s Bayou, often known as the “plum orchard struggle,” Main was barking fiercely at passing stragglers.

Granville Blake, a lieutenant within the tenth Maine, grew to become Main’s handler in late 1863. He escorted the canine to Louisiana for the Pink River Marketing campaign, serving in what was now the twenty ninth Maine. (Nicholas Picerno Assortment)

In a tribute to Main in his 1871 regimental historical past, Gould wrote: “He was at all times a canine of singular conduct, however by no means acted so unusually as in his final struggle. Whereas in camp on the noticed mill he was a lot disturbed at listening to the sound of the battle, and appeared to know that we should always need to, or should go to the entrance. He barked wildly at each cavalry-man we met on the march[,] he appeared to know a straggler and skulk, and knew, too, that it was protected to bark at them. We by no means shall neglect his actions on the high of the hill the place we fought. As earlier than said, we got here at that time upon nearly a stable mass of fugitives, and right here, too, we first heard the bullets whistle. The canine appeared to grasp the scenario, and bracing himself in opposition to the torrent, he gave one lengthy, loud howl that rose above all different sounds, after which went on once more. He ran wildly across the area, at all times retaining in our entrance, and biting on the little clouds of mud raised by the enemy’s balls. At our first volley he jumped into the air, howled and bit on the flying bullets, and was going by way of unusual capers when the deadly bullet struck him. He died like a hero, far within the entrance of the road, and had he been human we should always not have felt his loss extra keenly.”

In a letter house written shortly after the battle, Nye, then commanding the twenty ninth Maine’s Firm Okay, poignantly summed up Main’s dying:

Our outdated canine Main which was such an ideal favourite with us was killed on the battle of Mansfield within the first days struggle—he fell simply in entrance of my firm, he was operating in entrance of the corporate leaping for the bullets as they knocked up the mud in entrance of us. We miss him very a lot for we had been all enormously connected to that poor fellow—however he fell on the sphere of battle nobly dealing with the foes.

Main would share the destiny of many a soldier, whether or not they wore blue or grey: an unmarked grave on the battlefield. 

Nicholas Picerno is chairman emeritus of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Basis and has been gathering and researching the first, tenth, and twenty ninth Maine Infantry for greater than 40 years.

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