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 “massive black Newfoundland cross-breed canine,” weighing about 110 kilos.

Main had his first expertise within the warfare whereas with the first New Hampshire Infantry, a three-month regiment, and was with them on the First Battle of Bull Run. In the course of the battle on July 21, 1861, Main obtained 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 practice containing a newly recruited two-year regiment, the tenth Maine Infantry. He adopted Captain Charles Emerson of Firm H into the practice 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 all the time 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 Ok, tenth Maine, penned the next to his spouse, Charlotte: “We’ve got some home animals in the home –first-we have a dog-weighs a couple of hundred kilos–he’s on the sick-list right this moment–he has an important dislike for the engine because the engineer squirted some water on him the opposite day, since then each time he sees the automobiles coming he places for the engine on the clear leap. At present he received a little bit too close to and the cow-catcher gave him a reasonably arduous thump—knocking off a chunk of his nostril and his rump….I suppose tomorrow he’ll rise up in good condition and be a wiser canine.”


This sketch, which appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, portrays “A trustworthy canine watching and defending the physique of his lifeless insurgent grasp,” slain throughout Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Marketing campaign. (Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper)

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, “Previous canine ‘Main’ behaved properly beneath 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 the direction of the uproar which some contemplate so important in battle. He had proven a lot real pluck, furthermore, that the lads of H have been bragging of his barking, and of his biting on the sounds of the bullets, asserting in addition to 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 grime clouds once they hit the bottom.

 Counted On to Fetch…or Battle

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 line with the regiment’s troopers, lots of them former members of Pittsburgh’s Niagara Volunteer Fireplace Firm, Jack would be part of them on the march and would stand close to the “firing line” throughout fight. Jack, they careworn, comprehended bugle calls and would obey orders. He was additionally identified to roam the battlefield within the wake of preventing, in search of out wounded and lifeless “comrades.” Captured twice, Jack at one level survived six months in a Accomplice jail camp. One other canine mascot of word 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 lifeless Federals on Oak Ridge throughout 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 throughout 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 throughout the Siege of Corinth, Miss. Or “Calamity,” generally known as a foraging specialist with Firm B of the twenty eighth Wisconsin. Only a few! For these of us with cherished canines who, sure, shrink and conceal on the sound of thunder or fireworks, we salute these canine anomalies. –C.Ok.H.

Sallie’s Gettysburg monument. (Photo Courtesy of Melissa A. Winn)
Sallie’s Gettysburg monument. (Picture 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 warfare 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 lads 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 get entangled, 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 warfare’s outset, with each surviving the battle. It was Emerson whom Main adopted onto a practice, 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 have been the battles wherein Main participated.

The collar was given to 1st Lt. Granville Blake, who assumed accountability for Main after Emerson turned lieutenant colonel, protecting 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’d participate in Banks’ ill-fated Purple River Marketing campaign. It will 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 combat on the Battle of Mansfield. Whereas positioned at Chapman’s Bayou, also called the “plum orchard combat,” Main was barking fiercely at passing stragglers.

Granville Blake, a lieutenant within the tenth Maine, turned Main’s handler in late 1863. He escorted the canine to Louisiana for the Purple 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 all the time a canine of singular habits, however by no means acted so unusually as in his final combat. 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 must always should, 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 secure to bark at them. We by no means shall overlook his actions on the high of the hill the place we fought. As earlier than acknowledged, we got here at that time upon virtually 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 discipline, all the time protecting 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 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 must 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 Ok, poignantly summed up Main’s demise:

Our outdated canine Main which was such an important favourite with us was killed on the battle of Mansfield within the first days combat—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 have been all drastically connected to that poor fellow—however he fell on the sphere of battle nobly going through 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 amassing and researching the first, tenth, and twenty ninth Maine Infantry for greater than 40 years.

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