CONFEDERATE REGIMENTAL MASCOTS
Many Regiments from both the North and the South kept or adopted animals during the American Civil War which took on semi official roles as regimental mascots. These included cats, dogs, horses, squirrels, raccoons, badgers, eagles, wild cats and hens. The Union Army had the most regimental mascots and undoubtedly the most famous was Old Abe, the bald eagle of Co. C of the 8th Wisconsin Regiment, Union Army, who participated in 37 battles and skirmishes. As such, this article will look at Confederate regimental mascots which are much less common and known.
The 3rd Tennessee had a gamecock named "Jake". He was originally obtained with the thought of dinner but having been placed with other chickens was recognised as such a fighter that his life was spared. Soon afterwards, Jake became involved with other rivals from other companies and became a renowned prize fighter. Other Confederate regiments heard about his reputation and Jake took on all comers as his fame spread. Jake followed the regiment throughout the War and was at the siege of Vicksburg and lived in the trenches with the 3rd Tennessee. He would screech and shriek at the incoming Federal shells. When the 3rd Tennessee was captured, he accompanied the regiment to Camp Douglas Prison. When the Confederate troops entered the prison, the Union troops jeered at them and Jake responded with a loud screech that the captured Rebel troops quickly took up with a rebel yell. At the end of the War when the 3rd Tennessee was mustered out, Jake went with them back to Tennessee. He died shortly afterwards and was buried in a casket with a well attended funeral.
The 43rd Mississippi had a camel named "Old Douglas". As a result, the regiment subsequently became known as the "Camel Regiment." Old Douglas was used for transportation purposes and carried the Officers personal camp belongings. He was relatively well behaved and rarely got into trouble. However, he would not be restrained and tended to wander and graze but always in sight of his regiment. He became very friendly towards horses in his own company but would not socialise with others. However, he could be cantankerous and he occasionally spooked other horses in wagon trains and on one occasion during a forced march before the battle of Corinth caused a stampede injuring several men. Afterwards, he was banished from being inside the camp perimeter. Old Douglas was killed in action by a minie ball at the siege of Vicksburg by Union Sharpshooters whilst carrying supplies between Vicksburg and the left wing of Confederate General Pembertons Army on the Graveyard Road near the 3rd Louisiana Redan. His skeleton was recovered by Union troops and his bones were used for finger rings and other ornaments for relic and souvenir hunters from the North. When his bones ran out, unscrupulous Yankee sutlers used cow bones in the pretence it was Old Douglas. Old Douglas has his own marker in the battlefield cemetery at Vicksburg.
The 2nd Kentucky, of the famous Orphan Brigade, had a mascot called "Frank". Frank the dog always accompanied his Rebel comrades into battle and carried his own small haversack around his neck which contained his rations. When the regiment was captured at Fort Donelson in Tennessee, he spent 6 months in prison at Indiana`s Camp Morton and on exchange for Union prisoners followed the regiment out. He spent a further 2 years with the 2nd Kentucky before going missing. He was presumed killed in action.
The Richmond Howitzers had a mascot called "Stonewall Jackson". He was a particularly intelligent Jack Russell Terrier with a smooth white coat and black spots and proved to be a very fast learner. He would participate in roll call and attending with a pipe between his teeth would stand to attention when his name was called and remain rigid until roll call was over. He appeared to relish battle and as the cannons thundered would leap up and down yelping and barking. He was placed in an empty ammo box for shelter when under incoming fire. He learnt many tricks and as a result was coveted by many other regiments throughout the Army of Northern Virginia. He was subject to a number of kidnapping attempts. Unfortunately, one was successful involving Louisiana troops and he was never seen again. The Richmond Howitzers also possessed a big black crow. When the crow died it was so loved by its artillerymen that it was given a sombre military funeral including a salute from the guns of the Honour Guard. The ceremony was presided over by the Regimental Chaplain and eulogised in both English and Latin.
The 2nd Maryland had a black Labrador retriever named "Grace" that was killed in action on Culps Hill, Pardees Field, Gettysburg. She was found wandering amongst the Confederate dead on 3 legs and badly scarred with bullet wounds having taken part in the earlier rebel charge. Before she died she was seen licking a rebel casualty perhaps her master. The rebels suffered 50% casualties. On observing her looking totally bewildered amongst all the dead and human carnage from both sides, Union General Kane ordered her a proper burial alongside her regiments fallen Confederate soldiers. He said "She was the only Christian minded being on either side."
Confederate General Robert E Lee had a pet barnyard chicken called "Nellie" in the camp so he could have a fresh egg every day during the invasion of Pennsylvania. It nested under his cot whilst on campaign and the General never failed to leave his tent flap open for her. After Gettysburg, Nellie went missing but General Lee was not content until his aides eventually found her happily perched in the Confederate Headquarters wagon before they retreated.
Finally, during the preparation of this article, I came across a few miscellaneous Confederate mascots that may be of interest. A Confederate drummer owned a squirrel that danced to his masters drum. An Arkansas Cavalry outfit had a wild cat. After the battle of West Liberty, Kentucky, a Union report listed the captured as " 34 Prisoners, 52 Horses, 10 Mules and 1 Large Bear". Undoubtedly a tame Confederate regimental mascot that was estimated to weigh over 3 hundred pounds. General JEB Stuarts 1st Virginia Cavalry had an enormous Raccoon that was so bad tempered it had to be fastened to a wheel of a captured Union gun. Confederate General TRR Cobb had a pet rooster who would crow on his command. A Louisiana regiment had a pelican and the 3rd Louisiana had a donkey who would constantly try to enter the regimental commanders tent and sleep with him.
The last known battlefield Confederate mascot mortality was "Charlie" of the Georgia Troop Artillery that was killed in action at the Battle of Cumberland Church on April 7 1865. 2 days after General Robert E Lee surrendered.
Finally, there was only one authentic photo ever taken of a Confederate mascot. This was of "Tinker" who served on a Confederate Blockade Runner.
Article by Stewart "Old Goober" Douglas
References: Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site, Wikipedia, Internet Sources, Webb Garrisons Civil War Curiosities 1 and 2 and Company Mascots by Robert Niepert
The above article appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, Sprint 2013