Corporal, "Four-legged Child of the Regiment."

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts

No, not "Corporal," we don't know what breed of terrier he was,
but a 19th century print of four varieties
"General Fremont’s Body Guard" was the grandiose title given a company of Missouri cavalry organized in August, 1861, and disbanded at the end of the following November. An occurrence after the October 25 Battle of Springfield is mentioned by the general’s wife, Jessie Benton Fremont, in her account: The Story of the Guard (1863),

“I think Wisa was the one whose life may be said to have been saved by the little terrier. This dog had joined the Guard on one of their excursions in the outskirts of St. Louis, coming back to camp with them, and keeping with them, not only there and all the time on the march, but charging with the Guard, and keeping up in the heat of the fray. As the day closed, he found himself by this wounded man, and, nestling to him, remained by him all night — sallying out of the wood at dawn, and, by his barking and actions, inducing a man whom he met to follow him to where Wisa lay, stiff and exhausted, with pain, and cold, and hunger. ‘Corporal’ was the name of this little fellow, and, as the Knight's dog lies at his feet on the old tombs, a terrier couchant should bring up this story and be its ‘Finis.’" (p.146)​

Another variation of the story is found in the New York Tribune of November 30th, 1861:

“‘Corporal’ found one of our men lying sadly wounded, and in need of immediate surgical relief. Seeming to comprehend the necessities, the dog ran to the surgeon, and by his persistent barking and uneasy movements, induced him to follow to the spot where the wounded guardsman was lying.​
“The Guard, in recognition of ‘Corporal’s’ services, adopted him as a four-legged child of the regiment, and a silver collar, suitably inscribed, was put on his neck as his certificate of muster.” (N.Y. Tribune, Nov. 30)​

The Missouri Daily Democrat of Nov. 23rd, tells us that the “silver collar” had been donated by the wife of Maj. Charles Zagonyi, who had commanded the Body Guard at Springfield:
I've been unable to find the Scholten photograph mentioned above, perhaps it does not survive. We know not what breed of terrier Corporal was (indeed, at least one newspaper referss to him as a "setter"!), nor do we learn anything of his eventual fate.

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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
You just know he was relieved when someone understood him. We must be frustrating to dogs. I'm pretty sure they think we're mostly amiable idiots someone has to keep an eye on. One bark would have notified another dog of the emergency, exact nature of what was expected and location. This language barrier with humans must drive them crazy.

Isn't it better when these stories end without knowing what eventually happened to the dog? He can then have been taken home post war by a big softie soldier, spent his days terrorizing cats and nights on a pillow by the fire and lived to be 25.

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