Dogs of War – Sallie

The year was 1861, and the newly appointed captain of the Pennsylvania 11th Volunteer Infantry unit was tasked with training his regiment in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Unexpectedly, one of the townspeople gifted him with a four-week-old puppy, a bull terrier. The puppy quickly became part of the unit and was loved by the soldiers. Knowing she needed a name, the men named her after one of the most beautiful young ladies in town. Thus begins the tale of Sallie, the mascot of the Pennsylvania 11th Volunteer Infantry.

Sallie’s First Battle

As days turned into months, Sallie quickly adapted to military life, so much so that when she heard the bugles of reveille, she came immediately and was one of the first present at roll call.

Sallie’s first battle came in 1862 at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Eyewitnesses reported that she held a position with the color guard throughout the fight. She continued her duties at her station on the front lines of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. She served faithfully at the end of the firing line, barking furiously at the enemy during numerous battles.

Reunited with her Brothers in Arms

Upon the Confederate retreat of Gettysburg, a soldier from a Massachusetts unit found Sallie faithfully watching over the fallen and immediately recognized her as the dog from the 11th Pennsylvania. He found the regiment and returned her to her brothers in arms.

In May of 1864, Sallie was wounded at Spotsylvania. One of the soldiers patched her up and bandaged her neck. Sallie healed and soon returned to duty. Sallie’s luck ran out in February 1865 at The Battle of White Oak Road, also known as The Battle of Hatcher’s Run. As the soldiers moved forward, Sallie was shot, dying instantly. As the second line of soldiers moved through, they found her body. Despite the heavy fire from the Confederates, soldiers, openly weeping, buried her on the field where she fell.

The only known photograph of Sallie [Pennsylvania State Archives]

After the Battle

On September 3, 1889, survivors from the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry dedicated a monument at Gettysburg. The monument features a vigilant soldier in bronze atop a granite base, standing watch. Lying faithfully at the statue’s base is a bronze likeness of a dog…it is Sallie, their regimental dog guarding her boys as she did so many years ago.

11th Pennsylvania Infantry monument featuring Sallie location

11th Pennsylvania Infantry monument featuring Sallie