Curly, of Company F

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
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Curly, with friend Chappie

It was while still in training, before actually going to war, that most units began collecting mascots. Often, however, those early pets were not allowed to accompany their men to the seat of war, and had to be left behind -- to be replaced by newer 'recruits.' One that did join up in the Camp of Instruction, went South with her comrades, endured three years of combat, and returned home to live out her natural life full of honors and memories, was a spaniel known as "Curly," of Company F, 23rd Massachusetts Volunteers.

"One original member of F must not be forgotten, for surely our story would be incomplete should we fail to mention Curly, Commissary Chappie's dog. She attracted much attention as, covered by her red blanket, she marched demurely by her master's side on the way through Boston and New York. Twelve pups born to her on the night before the battle of Roanoke Island were named respectively after the twelve months of the year. Captain Whipple secured one which he took home with him in '63, calling him 'Roanoke.'

"At Batchelder's Creek, N. C, Curly strayed away into the rebel lines and was gone several weeks. One day word came in from the rebels, that a dog with the name of "Chappie " on the collar was in their possession, and they were willing to exchange her for some tobacco. The barter was made to the mutual satisfaction of commissary and rebel.

"Once, in front of Petersburg in 1864, Curly suddenly dashed over the breastworks on to the debatable ground between the lines. … For several days the shelling had been unusually active, and shells frequently struck the ground near our [front]. It was great fun to all but Chappie to watch Curly dash after them as they reached the ground, and the adjectives and epithets which he applied to her as he endeavored to restrain her seeming waywardness, were not altogether complimentary, even to a dog. He followed, however, and finally secured her, both coming in safely from their hazardous venture. _

"Curly followed the fortunes of F for three years and lived some time after the war, enjoying well-earned rest, and doubtless the envy of all her canine friends in the neighborhood on account of her army record."

[The Story of Co. F, 23d Massachusetts volunteers, in the war for the union, 1861-1865 by Valentine, Herbert Eugene, 1896]
William F. Chappie was a 35 year old Salem, Mass. policeman, when he enlisted as a private in October, 1861. He was appointed commissary early in 1864. Postwar, Chappie returned to the police force, and eventually became Salem City Marshal. For many years, he and Curly would march together in all the city's patriotic parades.