| Karlene Wieland

Honoring Sallie Ann Jarrett on Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day weekend, a time of mourning and remembrance.. This weekend we are remembering those service members who’ve lost their lives in defense of these United States as well as their companions, in this instance one Sallie Ann Jarrett. An American Staffordshire Terrier adopted by the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry in 1861. She would see battles at Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania and eventually Hatcher’s Run in Virginia where she would lose her brief life to a bullet. 

Colonel Coulter, commander of the Regiment wrote of Sallie Ann’s good behavior, never stealing food from the troops. The troops in turn always fed Sallie Ann and watched over her tirelessly. Being a dog she likely did not understood the peril she was in during battle. Colonel Coulter remarked that Sallie Ann would snap at bullets as they hit the ground much like a dog might snap at a fly. In one instance she was shot and survived the wound after being cared for by the Regiment’s Surgeon. She was also caught behind enemy lines at Gettysburg when the 11th Regiment retreated on the first day. Sallie Ann was lost in the retreat and found her way back to the Regiment’s original position. There she was found three days later, tired, hungry and guarding wounded members of the Regiment left behind in the retreat. Unfortunately she would die in battle shortly before the end of the war. 

In 1890 survivors of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment raised enough money to place a monument to Sallie Ann Jarrett at Gettysburg National Military Park. The bronze casting is at the foot of the Regiment’s monument. Written of her passing without attribution was “Sallie’s bark will no longer be heard at the head of the column—her tail is waggles, and the marques, shelter tents and blankets that knew her shall know her no more forever—for her there is no pomp and pride, and circumstances of glorious war.” Surely we can all appreciate the comfort and camaraderie Sallie Ann offered those terrified and homesick young soldiers so long ago. 

Sources for Sallie Ann Jarrett: