By Christian Lee | Alamo City Guards
Confederates weren’t really known for having mascots or spirit animals within their ranks other than just in name. Of course, unless we’re counting war horses like JEB Stuart’s horse, Virginia or Little Sorrel, the horse of Stonewall Jackson. Fun Fact; It’s documented that President Jefferson Davis’ dog shared the same name as General Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveller.
There were the Louisiana Tigers, but they didn’t have tigers. There was Walker’s Greyhounds, but they didn’t have greyhounds. In all reality, food was so scarce why have another mouth to feed other than the pack animals?
The 43rd Mississippi Infantry CSA had Ol’ Douglas the Camel, a left over dromedary from then US Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis’ “Texas Camel Experiment”. After serving roughly 9 months, carrying instruments for the regimental band, Douglas was killed by a yankee sharpshooter. The commanding officer spared no man to bring down the Yankee sharpshooter who took down Ol’ Douglas. He has his own headstone at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Vicksburg, Mississippi. This is why we classify Douglas as one of the very few animals who were mascot-like to the Rebs.
A book by Burke Davis, originally published in 1960 called “Our Incredible Civil War” features a story about a donkey as follows;
“A Monsieur Chillon, a French army veteran who had migrated to California, walked cross-country to war in 1861, through Indian territory accompanied only by his donkey, Jason, with whom he slept. Chillon was welcomed by the French-speaking 3rd Louisiana of the Confederate Army and settled down.”
“There was one trouble: the regiment’s colonel bore a strong resemblance to old Chillon, and at bedtime Jason invariably pushed into the commander’s tent and tried to curl up next to the officer, to the joyous yelping of the troops.”
I’ve done a little research myself and the only CSA/Chillon I’ve found is a Benjamin Chillon of Freeman’s Regiment, Missouri Cavalry. Unless someone can provide evidence of anyone named Chillon enlisted in the 3rd Louisiana, we’re going to classify this one as a historical fiction.
Dogs weren’t uncommon but you could rarely call them a regimental mascot. Some exceptions are Frank, canine mascot of the Orphan Brigade of Kentucky. who was known for carrying a haversack with his own rations in it.
Grace, a black Labrador retriever, was found wandering amongst the Confederate dead of the 2nd Maryland. 3 legs and badly scarred, she was seen licking a rebel casualty which could have been her master. Of her it was said, “She was the only Christian minded being on either side.” -Union General Kane
The Richmond Howitzers had an extremely talented Jack Russell Terrier called “Stonewall” who never flinched in the heat of battle even in the sights of enemy guns. He was known for attending roll call, with a pipe in his mouth, on his haunches until dismissed. Said to be some Louisiana troops, the pup was kidnapped never to be seen again.
The artillery unit then chose a black crow as their mascot. What’s its name? I don’t know. You’d think it’d be easy to find considering when the bird died they gave it a full military funeral with an Honor Guard salute. 21 guns? Uncertain. But I do know it involved guns. Was the bird a Catholic? I would like to say not but I could be wrong considering the Chaplain gave a eulogy in both English and Latin!
Gamecocks within company ranks were somewhat common for entertainment, gambling and, well, you could eat the loser. Jake, of the 3rd Tennessee, became quite the celebrity. His only defeat came at the hands of the Union army when the company was captured at Fort Donelson, February 1862. The regiment upon entering prison camp ‘Douglas’ were met with profanities and jeers from their opponents from up north. Jake screeching at the blue bellies ignited a rebel yell that exploded from the group of captive southerners. An act that told the scornful, Yankee hecklers our spirit will not be destroyed!
Robert E. Lee had a hen named Nellie who would regularly lay eggs for the general beneath his cot. She became a respected member of the camp by laying eggs daily for their commander as to keep his strength up. Of Lee’s tent, she was allowed to come and go as she pleased. If she was lost they would go out and find her even in the midst of retreat, ahem, I mean, post-engagement tactical relocation. On the eve of the battle of the wilderness, in a twisted turn of events, Nellie was served up as supper to Lee and his officers.
The American Civil War took its toll on every living creature throughout that dreadful time, human and beast alike. We cannot forget the contributions these simple creatures made to the cause and the spirit of those men who believed in the cause. Thinking of how much animals cause me to think of home, perhaps these mascots, too, reminded the Confederate soldier of home, the homes and families they fought night and day over 4 grueling years to protect. May their sacrifices never be forgotten and may they live on in legend for all eternity. Long live the Legendary Animals of the Confederacy.