Two Bears, Two Goats, and a Chicken

John Hartwell

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A bevy of pets:

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From a letter in the N.Y. Post, August 8, 1864:

“The oddest pets we have yet seen were two bears, which the Twelfth Maine Regiment, of the Nineteenth corps, led through the city recently. These bears were brought all the way from Louisiana, and have been in several fights. They have become perfectly tame and tractable, and march along at the head of the band, with an air that indicates they feel themselves veteran soldiers of the bruin order, and that they have a character to sustain.”​
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When the 9th New York (Wilson’s Zouaves) returned home from the Gulf, this appeared:

The pet of the regiment is a goat, which, when a kid, was taken in charge by the volunteers. This goat accompanied the regiment in all its marches and battles and is neatly caparisoned. The goat is expected to remain at the Park barracks, the headquarters of the regiment, till the volunteers are mustered out of the United States’ service. Who will take possession of the goat is not yet decided. [N.Y. Post, June 10, 1863]​

And, from the legendary 'Mountains of Louisiana' (highest elevation: 535 ft / 163 m):

“A regiment that passed through some days ago had with it a mountain goat, captured also in Louisiana, which has been in several battles and skirmishes. In one of the latter he was seriously wounded, but by careful nursing got well.” [N.Y. Post, Aug. 8, 1863]​


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“A letter from Gen. Hooker’s army” tells of:
A PET CHICKEN IN CAMP
"In one of the New York State regiments here, there is a private soldier who owns a pet pullet, which has escaped, with its owner, all the perils of battle thus far, and which is quite an acquisition to the chicken fancier, who has carried her along with him, wherever he has been, since last summer. She is now laying vigorously, furnishing her proprietor with a nice large egg almost every day -- four or five a week, certainly. 'Biddy' cackles, sings, struts, scratches and lays, all alone, and seems to have a very good time by herself. She is a fine specimen, and is quite a pet among the boys, who take good care of her." [Portland (Me.) Weekly Advertiser, May 2, 1863]​

And finally, the somewhat cynical report:

"A Minnesota regiment, the 14th, en-route home, numbered about nine hundred men, and every man had a contraband, a coon, and a grey squirrel. The pets filled several box cars." [S.L.C. (Utah) Weekly Telegraph, Sept. 21, 1865]​
 
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