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Sallie, the Civil War Warrior-This Story Happened at Hatcher's Run


Sallie fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg - Wikimedia Commons

 In May 1861, the Eleventh Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers enlisted for three months and along with the Ninth regiment occupied the Fair Grounds near West Chester, Pennsylvania. The soldiers christened their new quarters Camp Wayne. The camp was pleasant.  The quarters were comfortable and the rations plentiful and good.  The townspeople welcomed the soldiers, although the roll of the drums and the tramp of many marching feet broke the Sabbath day quiet.  While the soldiers were there, the townspeople entertained them as holiday visitors, and treated them with hospitality and kindness.

 One sunny morning a civilian came to the quarters of 1st Lieutenant William R.  Terry, Company I.  The civilian said he had brought the Lieutenant the pup he had promised him.  Out of the basket he pulled a little puffy, pug nosed black muzzled dog, about four weeks old.  She was a brindle bull terrier of a fine breed and could barely toddle on her short and clumsy legs.     Lieutenant Terry took the puppy into his quarters and made her a nest under his bunk.  He fed her, cared for her, and named her Sallie.

Sallie rapidly adapted to camp life and thrived.  She enjoyed milk and soft bread which came in plentiful supply, and the only work  she had to do was eat and sleep snugly rolled up in her bed or loll lazily on a blanket. Everyone in camp loved her and petted and played with her.When the three month term of the Eleventh Regiment had expired, Sallie, as everyone called her, had grown to a respectable size and could well take care of herself. When the Eleventh Regiment reorganized for three years' service, Sallie returned with Company I. According to the regimental roster, Lt. Terry was not in the same regiment with her any longer, but she still had plenty of friends and caretakers among the men in the regiment.

Sallie also learned the soldier's life.  She knew the roll of the drum at reveille, and was usually one of the first out of quarters to regularly attend the morning roll call.  At the squad or company drills she patiently followed the particular soldier she had selected until the drill was over.  When the regiment formed for battalion drill, she sought out the Colonel's horse, who soon began to recognize and watch for her.  She led the way with the horse to the drill ground, and remained there until the regiment was dismissed.

At dress parade, she found the color sergeant and after the regiment was formed lay down in front of the colors.  She would not move until the parade was over.  From that point on, Sallie always led off with the Colonel's  horse when the regiment moved and to the front line  at the dress parade.  She continued this until the day of her death, when she led the columns from the camp at Hatcher's Run.

On April 10, 1862, the Eleventh left Annapolis for Washington.  From Washington, the regiment went to Manassas Junction, Falmouth, Aquia Creek, and back again by way of Alexandra to Manassas and Thoroughfare Gap, Front Royal and the Shenandoah.  Leaving the Shenandoah, the Eleventh went to Warrentown and Waterloo and down to the Rapidan River.  It fought the battle of Cedar Mountain, and then participated in Pope's Retreat, Rappahannock and Bull Run. Sallie joined all of this action, faithfully trotting along in the long and hurried marches by night and day.  She came under fire for the first time at Cedar Mountain, stuck close by the Colors at Bull Run, and fell back with the regiment to Centreville and Chantilly.

In the chaos after Chantilly and through the weary march to South Mountain, Sallie persevered.  Through countless cities and dusty small towns, she marched. At Antietam she followed one of the soldiers into the corn field, despite his efforts to make her go back.  His fears for her safety proved to be real, for a ball did strike her on the side, but only singed her hair.

At Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, Sallie again accompanied her regiment into the thick of the fight.  She crossed the river in front of the Colonel's horse and moved on, despite the heavy firing.  That afternoon Colonel Coulter was wounded and had to leave the field.  The Eleventh, exposed to a withering fire, fell back.  Its ranks thinned and broke. 

For the first time in battle, Sallie became confused. Missing familiar faces and forms, she made a flanking movement to the rear and raced for the pontoon bridge. "Old Daddy Johnson", a soldier in the hospital department, saw her coming at a rapid pace, and whistled to her.  In the past Sallie frequently had followed him and seemed fond of him, but today she looked at him and hurried on.  She crossed the bridge and didn't stop until she had reached the temporary hospital on the other side of it to which the wounded men were carried.  She anticipated the retreat of the Union Army in the same steps by a just a few hours.

In all of the marches, movements and operations of the Eleventh Regiment, Mine Run, Burnside's advance in front of Fredericksburg again and at Chancellorsville, Sallie shared the fate of her regiment.  She stayed with the regiment on the long and rapid march from the front of Fredericksburg to Gettysburg, and went into the first day's fight there.

During the repulse and falling back of the Eleventh's line through town, she became separated from her regiment.  Being unable or unwilling to pass the rebel lines, she returned to the crest of the hill where the Eleventh had fought.  Seeking out the dead and wounded, she stayed with them, licking their wounds or patiently watching by their lifeless bodies.

On the morning of July 4, 1863, Captain Cook of the Twelfth Massachusetts and the Provost Guard came to the hill, searching for stragglers and prisoners. They found Sallie, and Captain Cook took her back with him to the brigade and her own regiment. During her three day and night vigil, Sallie must have not eaten, for she was weak and hungry when the Captain found her.  The soldiers of the Eleventh speculated that she had not been captured or killed by the Rebels because she knew a rebel uniform from the Yankee blue and would have given the Rebels a wide berth,

Following her regiment in the battles through the Wilderness on May 8, 1864, she was struck in the neck by a minie ball.  One of the field surgeons examined the wound and bandaged it.  He sent her back to the hospital with some of the other wounded men. Dr. Chase, the surgeon in charge, examined it and said it was not dangerous.  The ball could not be cut out.  Sallie carried this ball for several months and during this time it became enclosed in a cyst the size of a hen's egg, in the fleshy part of her neck.  The men could feel it clearly.  Afterwards, her neck began to fester and finally the cyst dropped off and the wound healed, although leaving a distinctive scar.

During the operations at the Weldon Railroad in 1864, the  Hickford raid, and the siege of Petersburg, in November 1864, Sallie stayed with the men of the Eleventh, always in her place at the head of the column.  She would announce its departure by barking and jumping at the horse of the officer in command until the line fairly started.  Then she quietly trotted along, sometimes at the horse's heels, sometimes in the rear, or winding through the legs of the men in the middle of the column.  By now she had grown to a medium size, squarely but handsomely built.  Her coat was soft and silky, her chest broad and deep.  Her head and ears were small and her eyes a bright hazel, full of fire and intelligence.  She was active, quick, and had remarkable powers of endurance.

The men of her regiment were very fond of Sallie.  They said she had great courage, and always displayed good temper toward anyone in regiment.  The only people she seemed to really dislike were civilians, women, and strange darkies, whom she would fight anywhere in the camps.

Sallie could tell the soldiers of the Eleventh with unerring accuracy. A whole corps might pass her, but she never made a mistake about a regiment and never followed any other.  She could distinguish and recognize her own people under all circumstances, whether in camp or on the march and even when home on furlough.  She knew the teamsters belonging to the regiment. although they were necessarily much absent from it.  One time in crossing the James River, she missed the regiment.  Instead of panicking, she hunted up the wagon belonging to the headquarters, remained with it, and came into camp the first time it was ordered up.  She seemed highly delighted at getting back again.

The night before Hatcher's Run, February 5, 1865, Sallie slept under the tent occupied by four men  from company D of her Eleventh Regiment.  At intervals during the night she awoke them with a prolonged and mournful cry.  They tried to drive her away, but she kept coming back.  The next day, February 6, 1865, two of the men were killed by Sallie's side on the field at Hatcher's Run and the other two severely wounded.  Sallie too, was killed.

The roster of Company D of the Eleventh shows that Pvt. Hugh Hannah and Pvt. George W. Smith were killed at Hatcher's Run.  Company D's David Moorehead, Joseph L. Sensabaugh, John Smith and William S. Wright were all wounded.  These men were probably the ones in the tents who tried to quiet Sallie the night before the battle.

In the close of his official report of the battle, the Adjutant General says, "Sallie was killed when the regiment was making its first advance upon the enemy.  She was in line with the file ‑ closers when shot.  We buried her under the enemy's fire.

Sallie's most enduring epitaph was written by one of the men of her regiment.  In a letter dated, "Camp Near Hatcher's  Run, Virginia, February 11, 1865," he writes, "Poor Sallie fell in the front line in the field at the Run‑ a bullet pierced her brain.  She was buried where she fell, by some of the boys, even whilst under a murderous fire so much had they become attached to the poor brute, who so long had shared with them the toilsome march and the perils of battle.  It would, indeed, be a pleasant reverie if one could reconcile to himself the poor Indian's theory of the happy hunting grounds, where his faithful dog would bear him company."