The Faithful Hospital Dog


First Sergeant
Aug 8, 2011
Gettysburg area
Among the many memorable figures that Civil War nurse Sophronia Bucklin recalled in her memoirs is a dog who belonged to one of the regiments at Point of Rocks Hospital. His name may be lost to history, but he was notable for his faithfulness, not only in accompanying soldiers into battle but also in serving as a kitchen assistant.

“A regimental dog in our hospital became an object of no little interest to all. He was a noble-looking fellow, of the Newfoundland species, and was possessed of a remarkable intelligence. His master had been detailed to work in the cook house, whence he would carry a basket of meat as faithfully as a man and with astonishing quickness and fidelity. He seemed to prefer the active service to a hospital life, and he again and again ran away to the front, and joined the regiment, in which he seemed to be as well drilled as any of the soldiers. He enjoyed the crack of the rifle, and the boom of the cannon, and had been thus far through the war without receiving injury.”​

~Sophronia Bucklin, “In Hospital and Camp: A Woman's Record of Thrilling Incidents Among the
Wounded in the Late War,” 1869​

I believe it is no coincidence that Miss Bucklin immediately followed this passage with three anecdotes about humans’ perfidy. In one instance, a gold watch that a dying soldier entrusted to his nurse went missing after it was passed along to a chaplain with the rest of his effects. In another, a soldier who repeatedly begged for clean clothing was later found to have sold it to another soldier. And in the third episode, as a soldier prepared to depart the hospital for home, hospital staff discovered he had stolen supplies from a kitchen.

No doubt the dog of the regiment would have disapproved.