J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “General Lee”

What Led Up to Gettysburg

 

It seems incredible in this day and age to imagine what led up to the Civil War. Slavery was an issue, but an underlying issue when the war started. In 1863, abolition had become more prevalent. 
Following the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863,  J.E.B. Stuart and his Confederate cavaliers moved north into enemy territory. For nearly the entire month of June, they traveled northward, sometimes through unfamiliar territory, to screen General Lee’s troops. Their movements came to fruition in the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863.
Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, which describes the Confederate cavalry’s travels and challenges.
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The horses plodded along with their eyes closed. A few of the drivers fell asleep, and their drowsy mules walked off the road into the ditch, pulling their wagons behind them. Some bucked, brayed and kicked in protest to their hunger and fatigue. Assigned soldiers rode up and down the line in the dark, looking for delays, barely coherent themselves. A few men slept while their horses jumped over fences, sending them sprawling, but even then they were too tired to awaken.
As dawn approached, General Stuart cantered alongside them, singing his battle song at the top of his lungs. His obedient soldiers, happy to see their commander alive and well, stirred themselves to sing along.
“Well, we’re the boys that rode around McClellian,
Rode around McClellian, rode around McClellian,
We’re the boys who rode around McClellian,
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!
“If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry!
Jine the cavalry! Jine the cavalry!
If you want to catch the Devil, if you want to have fun,
If you want to smell Hell, jine the cavalry!”
The words inspired and rejuvenated the troopers. They began conversing amongst themselves in every effort to stay awake as the sky grew brighter, but the sun failed to appear, hidden behind thick clouds. The cavaliers wondered if, once again, they would be riding through a rainstorm.
“Wish there was somethin’ to eat besides dust,” Michael noted sarcastically as their mounts slowly walked along behind the wagon train.
“And I could go for a dunk in a lake right about now,” added John.
“I wouldn’t mind gittin’ me some new boots,” Custis commented. He pulled one of his feet from a stirrup and held it in the air, revealing a hole clean through the sole. “These here are plumb worn out, and I wasn’t lucky enough to snag me a pair back in Culpeper.”
“Well, if’n we’d ever git paid, I’d buy me two pairs of socks from the quartermaster, or a lucky feller who got some from home,” said Peter Smith, “make them into puppets, and send one to each of my daughters.”
David snickered at the thought of Peter drawing puppet faces on his socks.
“Seems the only one of us with any money is Summers,” Michael observed.
The men all looked over at David.
“Whatcha aim on doin’ with the grayback you won in that race?” Michael asked.
David hesitated for a moment. He realized that he was the only one in the group who’d been capable of earning rewards by racing and writing letters home, even though the practice of reciprocation had been outlawed by General Lee sometime before David’s enlistment.
“Well, I was thinkin’ of savin’ it up for college,” he casually replied.
The other troopers laughed.
David glared at them, astonished by their reaction.
“Son, you’ll be lucky if’n that gits you two cords of wood by the war’s end,” John remarked.
David frowned.
John continued, “what with the way things is goin’ with the price of things, that is. Sorry to be the one to inform you.” He smiled sympathetically.
David sighed. Even though his hope of going to school was just a pipe dream, he held onto it as tightly as he’d grasped hold of the $100 note. Now it seemed inevitable that he was destined to be a farmer all his life.

 

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A Grand Review

As I stated in my previous blog post, General Lee is one of my favorite personalities of the War Between the States. In this excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, protagonist David Summers, age 18, meets the general for the first time, and is awestruck by his encounter. This event takes place shortly before the Battle of Brandy Station, which took place on June 9, 1863, and was the largest cavalry battle to ever take place in North America.

ABeckoningHellfire_MED

Later that evening, the men were informed that another Review was to be held, because General Lee had been detained from attending the day’s events. The troopers were required to polish their tack and metal two days later for the benefit of the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

On June 8, the Review was held between Culpeper and Brandy like before, but no civilians were present this time. General Hood’s infantry came to watch the military exercise. While the cavalrymen rode past to take their positions on the open field of the Auburn Estate, the suntanned foot soldiers jeered at them.

“Come down off’n that horse!” one yelled. “I can see your legs a-danglin’!”

“Come out from under that hat!” another hollered. “I can see your ears a-wigglin’!”

“They’re jist jealous of us because we git all the pretty girls’ attention!” Michael yelled over at David and flashed a grin.

The horsemen reached the open field and lined up in columns, their regimental colors rippling above them. Ordered to halt, they sat with all eyes on their commanding officer. 

General Lee rode the two-mile line at a brisk trot. He searched out saddle-sore horses and deficient carbines, mandating corrective actions as he carried out his inspection. He came to a halt in front of Renegade. 

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“Is this the little horse that won the race I heard tell about?” he asked.

Stunned that the magnificent general was speaking to him, David’s heart leaped. He found it difficult to reply, let alone comprehend that General Lee was actually addressing him. The general, dressed in flawless brass and gray, his white beard and entire appearance immaculate, gazed at him intensely. He didn’t know if he was required to salute, so he just sat there, stupefied.

“Yessir,” was all he could finally manage to say. 

General Lee nodded, glanced over Renegade once more, and spurred his gray steed away. The cavaliers surrounding David turned to gawk at him. He looked at John, who winked at him. 

“Reckon he’s got plans for you!” Michael said, grinning as he raised an eyebrow.

David wondered what those plans were, and couldn’t help cracking a smile. Although he’d given up on his fantasy of becoming a Pony Express rider, he hoped now to be chosen for some dangerous, daring mission on behalf of the Confederacy, since the adventure he and Jake had dreamed about seemed to have eluded him thus far. His utmost desire was to receive a perilous assignment, one that no one else was willing to take, because he was prepared to lay down his life for his beloved country. If that happened, there would be no doubt that he would acquire exoneration for Tom’s death. He wanted to die in honor and glory, just like his father and Jake had done. But he hoped, most of all, that he wouldn’t be sealed in an unmarked grave and forgotten.

Sitting astride Traveller, General Lee watched from the top of a hillock. General Stuart, with his usual flamboyance, wore a long, black ostrich plume in his hat, and his horse, Virginia, was adorned with a wreath of flowers around her neck. Stuart signaled; the bugles blared. Twenty-two cavalry regiments wheeled into columns of four, and three bands commenced to play “The Bonnie Blue Flag” while General Stuart led the parade of prancing horses. The cavaliers walked their mounts down the length of the field before turning into a trot. An immense cloud of dust billowed up from the ground. There was no mock charge against the guns this time, so following the reviewing maneuvers, the men were congratulated and released.

They led their horses back to camp, and celebrated the splendor of their review. The supply and baggage trains had been loaded, awaiting the cavalry’s departure across the Rappahannock with the infantry, which was now encamped on the other side of a hill. Unbeknownst to David and his fellow cavaliers, however, an ominous presence lurked in the shadows. Morning would come much sooner than expected. 

An Article From My Favorite Confederate

H.K. Edgerton is one of my favorite advocates for the Confederate cause and the Southern side of the story in regard to the Civil War. I have learned a lot from him, and I hope to someday have the opportunity to meet him in person. Here is a recent article from Mr. Edgerton.

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Tucker Carlson “Gets It”
    by H. K. Edgerton

H. K. Edgerton is an activist for Southern heritage and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A former president of the NAACP, he is on the board of the Southern Legal Resource Center.
As I watched and listen to Tucker Carlson of Fox News interviewing one James Nicols, who proclaimed to be a Professor of Black History, advancing his personal political view as he slandered the name of the Honorable General Jeb Stuart in an attempt to justify having his name removed from a school in Virginia because he fought in an army that fought to keep slavery; I couldn’t help but to become angered because Carlson said that he “got it.”

The fact is that none of General Lee’s men fought to maintain the economic institution of slavery.  And that includes Holt Collier, Polk Arnold, Dr. Alexander Darnes, Levi Carnine, Napoleon Nelson, Rev. Mack Lee and a host of other black confederate soldiers and their families back on the home places that directly supported the integrated Confederate army, and to change the name of a school because he is offended should first require a lie-detector test!

However, it got to be more pathetic as I was made privy to four white girls and two white men, and later on a black man with a six year old boy and three young black baby girls not to far removed from “Pampers” struggle to carry signs in protest of the Cenotaph of this integrated Southern army in Pensacola, Florida.  Save Southern Heritage researchers tell me that 75% of the protesters were imported from out of town, and the ‘babies’ were brought in for show by their grandfather from the Tampa area!

My grandmother used to say all the time “if they would just leave us alone in the South, we will be alright.”  And, for sure decent loyal black Southerners don’t need white Socialist Party members using black Southeners as their weapon of choice against our Southern white family. We had enough of that during reconstruction, and during the reign of Barack Obama in the White House.
I hope you will contact Tucker Carlson and let him know that agreeing with changing a school named for Jeb Stuart is wrong and he shouldn’t side with those that lie about our Southern heroes.  You can reach him by clicking:  http://www.foxnews.com/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight.html
(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 6, 2018 ed.)

Moving Day (Again)

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This is moving week for my husband and me. It has been crazy so far, but luckily, we haven’t broken anything (yet). We have managed to lose a few things, but hopefully, they will turn up. In the past four years, we have moved nine times, and we’re not even in the military! It has been a crazy ride but we have met a lot of wonderful friends along the way.

Moving is never an easy task, but it had to be much harder for Southerners who lived during the Civil War and were forced to evacuate before the invading army came along to steal their belongings and do unspeakable things to civilians. Marauding Union soldiers burned and took everything, leaving only what they thought was inedible and/or unsalvagable.

It was also very difficult to be in the military and be told to move in a moment’s notice. My novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, is soon to be re-published, so stay tuned for a new book cover and some updated edits. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the book, describing how the Confederate cavalry had to move quickly and without much notice.

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(Original Book Cover)

On Tuesday, June 16, General Stuart departed with the brigades of Beverly Robertson and Rooney Lee, now under the command of General John Chambliss. Before he left, the general issued a congratulatory order to his remaining troopers, which was read to the men during roll call.

“With an abiding faith in the God of battles, and a firm reliance on the saber, your successes will continue. Let the example and heroism of our lamented fallen comrades prompt us to renewed vigilance and inspire us with devotion to duty.”

The cavalrymen were informed that they was to serve as a counter-reconnaissance screen, thereby preventing Pleasanton’s Union cavalry from discovering General Lee’s objective, which was to cross over into Pennsylvania. Within a few days, General Hampton’s brigade, after being told to prepare three days rations, broke camp and departed north.

The day was extremely hot and humid, but the men did their best to distract themselves from their discomfort. While they rode, the Georgians sang at the top of their lungs.

 

“Sittin’ by the roadside on a summer day,

Chattin’ with my messmates, passin’ time away,

Lyin’ in the shadows underneath the trees,

Goodness, how delicious, eatin’ goober peas!

 

“I wish this war was over, when, free from rags and fleas,

We’d kiss our wives and sweethearts and gobble goober peas.

Peas! Peas! Peas! Eatin’ goober peas!

Goodness, how delicious, eatin’ goober peas!”

 

The Georgians sang with such exaggerated conviction that David couldn’t help but chuckle. Once he’d learned the lyrics, he happily joined in, and boisterously sang along, too.

Later on in the day, the horsemen learned that General Stuart and his brigades had engaged in a battle near the small towns ofAldie and Middleburg. Heros Von Borcke, Stuart’s Prussian aide-de-camp, had been seriously wounded, and was expected to be incapacitated for quite some time. Upon hearing the news, David became greatly disappointed, since he had been looking forward to the day when he could race the colonel. Now he wondered if the opportunity would ever present itself.

The troopers continued their quest. Encountering a pontoon bridge that the Confederate cavalry ahead of them had constructed, David and his comrades crossed the Chickahominy River. That evening, a skirmish broke out between Hampton’s brigade and a Union regiment, but fighting ended when a rainstorm rolled in, covering the countryside with complete darkness as it burst open in a thunderous downpour. The Rebels were driven into the woods, where they were forced to spend the night wet, cold, and miserable.

Rain fell incessantly throughout the night and into the morning, drenching the men to the core. It was replaced by sweltering heat and humidity that afternoon. As night fell, a hailstorm erupted, pummeling the horsemen with stones the size of hens’ eggs. Unable to set their tents up in time, some of the men pulled heavy overcoats over their heads, which provided their only shelter. With only prepared rations to eat, they shivered in the chilly rain while they waited for morning to finally arrive. When it did, the overcast sky constantly released drizzle. The cavaliers mounted up and continued their march, reaching General Stuart’s brigades later that afternoon. No fighting had taken place this Saturday, May 20, due to the inclement weather, so they rested and cared for their horses, seeking cover in the woods behind a stone parapet. The cavalry was now over five thousand strong. Officers instructed the troopers not to release any information about their mission if they were captured.

Racehorses and the Civil War

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Many racehorses were used during the Civil War. My new book, Horses in Gray, discusses this topic. At the start of the war, Southern gentry thought that thoroughbreds would outperform other breeds, and thus assure victory for the Confederacy. Southern soldiers brought their steeds with them, and most were nimble, well-bred stock from Virginia and Kentucky. However, it didn’t take long for both armies to figure out that thoroughbreds were too flighty and unpredictable under gunfire, so they switched primarily to Morgans, Percherons, and Saddlebreds, and used various other breeds as well.

Thoroughbreds were mostly ridden by commanding officers after that, to give them the appearance of dignity and nobility. General Grant’s horse, Cincinnati, was a descendant of Lexington, a record-breaking thoroughbred. Grant was supposedly offered $10,000 in gold for Cincinnati, but he declined the offer. President Lincoln rode the horse on occasion, and reportedly enjoyed riding him very much. After Grant was elected president, Cincinnati went with him to the White House.

General Lee’s horse, Traveller, also had royal racing blood in his veins. His lineage stretched back to English racehorses; from Diomed, to Sir Archy, to Grey Eagle, which was Traveller’s sire. Grey Eagle was a famous, full-blooded thoroughbred, and set many records. Traveller’s dam was a half-bred grade mare named Flora. After the war, Traveller accompanied Lee to Washington and Lee University in Alexandria, Virginia, where Lee served as president. The general gave rides to the town’s children on Traveller, and everyone could set their timepieces to the punctuality Lee displayed when riding Traveller through town.

On this date in 1973, Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby. It was the first of Secretariat’s Triple Crown victories. It should be interesting to see how American Pharoah, last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby winner, does in his two upcoming Triple Crown races. Thoroughbred racing was a very popular sport in this country since its birth, and fortunately, still is today.

Mascots and the War Between the States

We all know the important roles horses and mules played during the Civil War. They were essential to the mobility of armies. They pulled artillery caissons, carried officers, served as couriers, and of course, transported the cavalry. But besides equines, many other animals served in the War Between the States as well.

Soldiers were attached to their pets, and some brought along dogs, cats, and various domesticated livestock to the battlefront. They adopted squirrels, bears, birds, raccoons, and other wildlife as company mascots. Some unusual mascots included a badger, a camel known as “Old Douglas,” which was part of the 43rd Mississippi, and a bald eagle named “Old Abe,” which represented the 8th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers. General Lee kept a hen that dutifully laid an egg for him every morning.

Many of these special animals are immortalized in statuesque form, including General Lee’s horse, Traveller, General Grant’s Cincinnati, and General Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel. Dogs are honored, too, including Sallie, mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania. Her likeness is carved in bronze on the regimental monument at Gettysburg. There are many other famous canines that accompanied their masters to the battlefield … and to their death. A few are even buried there. These include Jack with the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Old Harvey with the 104th Ohio, and Major with the 19th Maine.

“Shoddy” Gettysburg

One of the most infamous battles of the Civil War took place in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 1-3, 1863. Several factors came into play, determining the location of this decisive battle. While General Lee led his Confederate army into enemy territory in an attempt to intimidate Union troops, invade the north, and impede upon Washington, the Rebel army was also in desperate need of shoes. It just so happens that there was a shoe factory in Gettysburg. So hence, the Confederates came in search of shoes, and yet found so much more – most likely what they realized they didn’t bargain for.

The Civil War introduced mass production to America. Northern cities began constructing various clothing items, Bibles, and ammunition in mass quantities to supply the Union army. Within months of the war’s start, manufacturing was changed forever. Child labor was commonplace, as were sewing factories, where women worked from 12-16 hours a day. Because there was such a high demand for these products, the advent of “shoddy” commenced.

Uniforms supplied to the Federal army were rapidly stitched together in a frantic attempt to keep up with the War Department’s demand to supply troops. In 1861, 75,000 men volunteered to fight for the Union army, but the War Department only had enough uniforms for 13,000. Even though the infantry wore out shoes faster than what could be manufactured at the beginning of the war, within months, clothing companies found ways to keep up with demand, and managed to supply the Union army until the end of the war. This was far superior to that of the Confederacy, which was unable to supply its troops with clothing. Therefore, many new recruits enlisted wearing only their own homespun garments.

Battle of Fredericksburg

This weekend marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. It was during this battle that Burnside’s Union forces faced defeat at the hands of General Lee’s Confederates, who were entrenched on Marye’s Heights. The Yankees were literally mowed down, and during the course of the bitter cold night, suffered tremendously, their cries and moans echoing in the still December air to the distraught ears of the Rebels.

One remarkable soldier laid his life on the line to assist the poor soldiers he was fighting against. This is a profound gesture, because the Union soldiers had pillaged the town upon their arrival, driving the remaining citizens into the woods to fend for themselves. Private Richard Rowland Kirkland, only nineteen years old, ventured out onto the battlefield to offer fallen Yankees sips of water from his canteen. Because of his bravery, he is forever known as “The Angel of Marye’s Heights.” He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga.

The battlefield has been honorably preserved, as has a house that survived the midst of battle and still has bullet hole pock mark scars to prove it. In two of my novels, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, the battle is described in detail. Once the fighting ceased, Northern Lights became visible in the winter sky. This was extremely unusual, as they are normally not seen that far south. The Confederates took it as a sign from God that he approved of their victory.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie (Excerpt 3)

On strict orders to respect the citizens, the men were on their best behavior, and didn’t disturb anything. Upon entering Maryland, the Rebels received an icy reception, which was not at all what they had expected. The Marylanders had heard from Union sympathizers in Europe that Lee expected to conscript all able-bodied men for his army. Even though that wasn’t the case, the Marylanders’ sentiments were equally divided. Hiram heard a few spectators, who were observing their march from open second-story windows, comment on how they couldn’t distinguish the generals from the enlisted men, because they were all in filthy tatters. General Lee had his regimental bands play “Maryland, My Maryland.” His men cheered while they marched through, but they were later disappointed, for they were unable to successfully recruit enough soldiers to increase their depleted ranks.

One man they did recruit, however, was Bernard Kelton, who substituted for his brother. He was a stocky young man with a pleasant disposition, and because of it, Bud and Hiram took to him right away. Another was Dozier Downs, a thin, scruffy-looking character with shifty eyes.

“My brother’s wife jist had a baby,” Bernie explained while the men trudged along, “so I volunteered to take his place.”

“That was right nice of you,” remarked Bud.

“I’ll make certain he returns the favor,” Bernie joked.

“I’m in it for the bonus,” Dozier apathetically stated.

“So much for pride and valor,” Bud mumbled to Hiram.

He understood what Bud meant. Soldiers forced to fight had no patriotic motivation whatsoever, and Dozier was just one example of many. “They say war can make heroes out of cowards,” he replied with a shrug, repeating what he had heard other men in the ranks proclaim.

“Yeah, but it’s the exact opposite case for some fellers,” Bud added sarcastically, glancing at Dozier, who he knew was out of earshot.

The men made their way through unfamiliar terrain, weighed down with haversacks, bedrolls, cartridges, weaponry, and whatever cooking utensils they deemed essential. Many were without shoes. They were also lacking in equipment and numbers, thus making their Maryland campaign miserable.

The Rebels heard that General Pope had been replaced by none other than McClellan, who had turned his Grand Army of the Potomac away from Washington and was headed back in the direction of Fredericktown. The Alabamians reached Hagerstown, and awaited news from Jackson. While there, they discovered that the Maryland countryside had been left virtually untainted, unlike the ravaged landscape of Virginia.

Their reprieve was short-lived, for the next morning, September 14, they were ordered to hurriedly prepare rations, and march back to Boonsborough Gap. The men learned that their sudden turnabout was due to a blunder made during the previous week. A copy of Confidential Special Order No. 191, wrapped around three cigars, was discovered by a Union soldier in Fredericktown, and given to General McClellan. The order outlined Lee’s intentions, so McClellan reacted by attempting to cut off the Confederate army, which was scattered from Harpers Ferry to Hagerstown. The Alabamians raced to the aid of General Hill, who was subjected to protecting the gap with his small army until reinforcements arrived.

After struggling through a fourteen-mile march, the Alabamians arrived between three and four o’clock that afternoon, exhausted from their strenuous excursion over the mountain.  The 4th was immediately put into action, commanded to attack the enemy to the left of the road with fixed bayonets. They were then ordered to their right. The men charged through an apple orchard over-laden with fruit. Starving, yet unable to pick any because time wouldn’t allow it, they forged ahead with the Texans and the rest of Colonel Law’s 3rd Brigade. Night fell before they could reach their opponents, so they positioned themselves in a sunken road for protection. The enemy continued firing into laurel trees standing several yards away, but to no avail, for the pelting of their bullets whacked into the trunks. At one point, Colonel McLemore climbed up on a nearby wooden rail fence to reconnoiter, but he was hit in the shoulder.

The firing tapered off, and soon Hiram and his comrades fell asleep. Around midnight, they were ordered to go quietly down the road, one at a time, in an attempt to sneak past the enemy. Carrying Colonel McLemore on a stretcher, they managed to escape, and continued on until they reached the Antietam River near Sharpsburg at noon the next day, where they learned that General Jackson had successfully captured Harpers Ferry, because McClellan was too slow to prevent it. The Alabamians found the opportunity to wash their ragged, butternut clothing, and take much needed baths.

While they stood in waist-deep water, waiting for their clothes to dry, Bud said, “I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but it seems to me the Yankees jist don’t run out. They keep on comin’ like an endless tidal wave.”

Hiram dunked his head under the cool water. Letting it rivulet down his face and through the stubble on his chin, he replied, “I have noticed. We’re up against Goliath, I’ll wager that.”

“Maybe we’ll whip them before year’s end,” said  Orange Hugh optimistically.

“It’s my understandin’ that if we win another battle, Europe will pay us notice, and possibly come to our defense,” said Hiram.

“That’s all well and good,” Bud remarked, “but what if we don’t win? Our troops and ammunition are runnin’ low.”

Hiram and Orange Hugh looked at each other.  “We’ll win,” Orange Hugh defiantly said with a grin.

Hiram hoped he was right.

Mascots and the War Between the States

We all know the important role that horses and mules played in the Civil War. They were essential to the mobility of armies. They pulled artillery caissons, carried officers, served as couriers, and of course, transported the cavalry. But besides equines, many other animals served in the War Between the States as well.

Soldiers were attached to their pets, and some brought along dogs, cats, and various domesticated livestock to the war front. They adopted squirrels, bears, birds, raccoons, and other wildlife as company mascots. Some unusual mascots included a badger, a camel, and a bald eagle known as “Old Abe,” which represented the 8th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers. General Lee kept a hen that dutifully laid an egg for him every morning.

Many of these special animals are immortalized in statuesque form, including General Lee’s horse, Traveller, General Grant’s Cincinnati, and General Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel. Dogs are honored, too, including Sallie, mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania. Her likeness is carved in bronze on the regimental monument at Gettysburg. There are many other famous canines that accompanied their masters to the battlefield … and to their death. A few are even buried there. These include Jack, with the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Old Harvey with the 104th Ohio, and Major with the 19th Maine.

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