The Critters of the 79th New York, “Highlanders”

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
From: William Todd, The Seventy-ninth Highlanders, New York Volunteers in the War of Rebellion, 1861-1865 (1886), pp. 126-7:

"A history of the regiment would be incomplete without a notice of some of the ‘pets.’ ‘Tip’ was known throughout the whole brigade; he was a dog, born at Beaufort, and served out the three years term of the regiment, returning with us to New York in 1864. His name was suggested by a peculiarity in his caudal appendage. Of course he belonged to the drum corps, and his special owner, Samo, loved him ‘like a verra brither.’

“‘Tip’ was familiar with the members of the regiment, all of whom made friends with him, but he could never be induced to extend his friendship to the Michiganders he drew the line at the Highlanders. Quite frequently, during our subsequent campaigns in Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, Tip did good service in the foraging line, and many a pig, sheep and chicken was brought to the mess kettles through his agency. During dress-parade he would accompany the band and drum corps, as they marched down the line, walking as demurely as the oldest veteran, and on the return, when the corps played a quick-step, his own gait denoted that he was as well versed in the cadence step as any of the musicians.

"’Major’ was another member of the canine race, also attached to the drum corps, and whose cognomen frequently led to amusing and laughable results. One day ‘Major’ was sunning himself in front of Major Morrison’s quarters, when that officer, accompanied by the new Major, Hagadorn, stepped from the tent; the story goes that at that moment some one of the corps from a tent called out ‘Major!’ when both officers, as well as the dog looked earnestly in the direction of the voice, each thinking for a moment that he was the party addressed. In order to officially seal ‘Major’ as one of the corps and to establish his identity in case he went astray, the picture of a drum covered one of his sides, and ‘D.C. 79‘ was painted on the other.

“Young alligators were also domesticated by some of the men; a family of owls occupied a cage near one of our tents, and were it not for the fact that the woods and fields were full of mocking birds who almost satiated us with their music, they too would doubtless have been numbered among our captive pets.”