Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Remembering Sallie

May 1861. West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The men of the 11th Pennsylvania adopt a
Staffordshire Terrier as their mascot and name her Sallie, after a pretty girl who'd appear every Sunday to watch them drill.

After 11 months of training, the regiment is shipped to Virginia, where it sees its first fight at Cedar Mountain. Sallie accompanies the men into battle, dodging the fierce Southern fire and grabbing at spent bullets as they strike the earth around her.

She repeats that performance at Second Manassas, South Mountain and Antietam, where she receives a scorch mark through her hair from a Confederate bullet.

After the Battle of Fredericksburg, Sallie gets a chance to march in review with the regiment past President Lincoln, who doffs his stovepipe hat when he spots her.

At Gettysburg, she loses her regiment on the first day, and is trapped behind enemy lines. She returns to the spot where she'd become separated from the 11th, and lies there three days, keeping vigil over dead Pennsylvanians until a member of the regiment finds her, nearly starved to death. Friends nurse her back to health.

Sallie is again struck by a bullet in May 1864 at Spotsylvania, and left with a bright scar on her neck. But the dog is undaunted. She travels with the 11th to the trenches before Petersburg.

On February 7, 1865, Sallie's luck runs out. She is shot through the brain during a skirmish at Dabney’s Mill. Gravediggers bury her on the spot.

In 1890, when the survivors of the Pennsylvania 11th reunite at Gettysburg for the dedication of their battlefield monument, they find a surprise.

“The 11th Pennsylvania has a grand monument to mark their line of battle,” one veteran writes. “A bronze soldier on top, looking over the field, while the dog, Sallie, is lying at the base keeping guard.”

Please honor veterans this weekend.
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