11th Pennsylvania Infantry, the Gettysburg Battlefield, and An Amazing Dog Named Sallie

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Doubleday Avenue: Looking northward on Oak Ridge.The 11th Pennsylvania Monument is in the very center of the photo.

 

Of the nearly 2,000 plaques, statues, and other memorials at the Gettysburg battleground, there are only two dogs portrayed. Of these two dogs, only one, Sallie, was actually at the battle. She can be found on the back side of the 11th Pennsylvania’s Monument on Oak Ridge.

Very few people know she’s there because even though the monument sits right next to the road, you have to get out of your car and walk around the statue of the soldier in order to see her. There you’ll see her restng, watching over the field of battle she had so long ago bravely defended.
Please note: All photos–except the one with her in it–were taken by Theresa Orzeck
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The 11th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was formed during the first year of the Civil War in 1961 from residents of several Pennsylvania Counties. The unit would participate in nearly all of the big battles including Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and, of course, Gettysburg. 1,890 men served with the unit during the four years of the war; only 340 lived to be discharged at war’s end. During their first month of training, a lieutenant from the regiment was given a pug-nosed brindle Staffordshire  terrier puppy by some grateful townspeople.

 

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An 11th Pennsylvania soldier standing watch over the regiment’s field of battle

 

In short order, she became the unit’s mascot. They named her Sallie, after a local girl from the nearby town of West Chester. Sally drilled along with the soldiers, attended roll call, and during parade, would march with the regiment’s colors. Although she was described to be of even temperament, she was known to hate three things: Rebels, Democrats, and women.
Her first battle was at Cedar Creek in 1862 where she remained on the frontline helping to guard the regimental flags. When concerned caretakers tried to get her to remain safely in the rear of the fighting, she doggedly (sorry, I couldn’t help it) returned back to the front. She did likewise at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.
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West side of the 11th Pennsylvania monument

On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the 11th Pennsylvania’s defensive position was overrun by the Confederates, and all who were able had to retreat to the relative safety of Cemetery Ridge. In the rout, Sallie was no where to be found. When the battle was over two days later, the survivors of the regiment found her back on Oak Ridge. Hungry and nearly dying of thirst, she had steadfastly refused to abandon her fallen comrades, protecting them on their field of glory from looters and scavengers.

 

In 1864, Sallie would be badly wounded in the neck at the Battle of Spotsylvania, but would survive. However, in 1865, just months before the end of the war, while accompanying her fellow warriors in the first wave of an attack on the Confederate’s position at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, she took a bullet to the head and died instantly. With great sadness in their hearts, and under unmerciful fire from the enemy, her compatriots buried her on the battlefield.
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Sally, faithfully forever on watch over her regiments field of glory

Because the writer of one of the articles that I used for researching this story did such a good job in his/her summation of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment’s achievements and their monument at Gettysburg, I shamelessly paraphrase what they wrote in their report:

“At the base of the statue is a bronze likeness of a little dog. It is Sallie … keeping watch through all of eternity over the spirits of her boys, just as she did so many years ago during all of the battles they shared. A dog so loyal and full of love for her men that the regiment’s survivors insisted she be remembered on ‘their’ monument for all of time.”

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2015: Me and Sally

One Comment on “11th Pennsylvania Infantry, the Gettysburg Battlefield, and An Amazing Dog Named Sallie

  1. That is such a good story. We have been there twice and have not seen any remarks about her. We would have stopped and paid our respects to get and get unit.
    P.S. in the beginning you said war started in 1961 I think you mean 1861.

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