Rooster in the Ranks

Gay Mathis

Cadet
Joined
Jan 1, 2008
Location
Kentucky
Mason City Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa) -1/24/1962

Claims Fighting Tennessean Never Talked About Self

Nashville, TN--Occupying a place of honor, in the home of State Atty. Gen. George McCanless, is an unsigned portrait of a Civil War Veteran who never talked about his experiences.

Hints of Jake Donelson's little known war record appear in an almost illegible note attached to the portrait.

Jake Donelson, Co H, Third Tennessee Regiment C.S.A.

"Enlisted as Camp Cheatham, May 1861. Captured at Fort Donelson, Feb. 16, 1862. Prisoner seven months and two days at Camp Douglas, Chicago. Died at Cornersville, TN, 1864. Buried with military honors."

Jake Donelson, of the Confederate Army, was a rooster.

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The Daily Herald (Delphos, Ohio) - 3/21/1899

Rooster in the Ranks

Since so much is being written of the mascots on the various battleships of the navy, special interest may be felt in a gamecock that followed the fortunes of a certain Southern regiment during three years service in the war. This historic rooster was known to his regiment, the Third Tennessee, by his sobriquet of "Jake" though his full name was Jake Donelson and he was the property of Jerome B. McCanless, first lieutenant of Company H. Jake joined the company at Camp Cheatham, May 25, 1861, and his admission cost Lieut. McCanless less a silver dime. His intended fate was the mess pot, but when his attenuated form had rounded its shape, it was seen he was no ordinary rooster. In point of fact, he was a game, and a born fighter, and the regiment was glad to offer him enlistment, and immunity from every danger save, of course, the enemy's bullets.

From that day, he became the pet of the commanding officer and was the pride of the regiment. Many a day in camp he made sport with a rival from some mess coop, and on the march, he found a comfortable perch on the knapsack of some accommodating private; or if the tramp was a long one, he took the seat of honor with the driver of the baggage wagon.

From Cheatham he went with his company to Camp Trousdale, Bowling Green, Russelburg, and to Fort Donelson. Here, during the siege, he was to be seen on the breastworks, and at frequent intervals gave vent to lusty crows of defiance to the enemy and of encouragement to the besieged. Many of the company begged that he be removed from so dangerous a position, but the lieutenant refused, for he knew how Jake would pine if he could share the dangers of his comrades. When there was the shriek of the shell, Jake sounded that low guttural warning so common to chickenhood, and would hug close to the breastworks.

At the surrender, he fell in with his company as a prisoner and made the long trip to Chicago without special interest, until marching through the city streets, where the populace lined the sidewalks and jeered at the ragged Confederates, he mounted his master's knapsack, and gave the familiar "****-a-doodle-doo" as a cheer to the down-hearted boys. It was the signal for the boys to give the old rebel yell, and give it they did as only the brave and unconquered hearts could.

Jake was mustered out and went to Cornersville, Tennessee, where his fame has preceded him; the citizens came for miles to see and welcome the old warrior. Here, in 1864, he died suddenly and on the following day, incased in a handsome casket, and attended by many old friends, he was buried.
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Gay
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
What a fine warm-hearted story. Leave it to Gay to dig up something to feel good about.

ole
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
I'm surprised they didn't cook him. BTW, if he drew rations, that was more for the men to share. If he drew pay, that was more money for them to spend too.
 

donna

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
May 12, 2010
Location
Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
My recent issue of UDC magazine has article on "Faithful Friends Until Death". It has several mascots and favorite animals from Civil War.

One of the animals is "The Rebel Rooster Jake Donelson". He was the rooster belonging to Jermone B. McCanless of Co. H. 3rd Tenessee Regiment.

McCanless had portrait painted of the rooster. It was in the family's collection until recently. It was donated to Fort Donelson National Battlefields.
 
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