Skip to main content

George Custer. Dogs of War. The American Civil War.

George Armstrong Custer. Who does not recognize the name? His grave is a must-see for me at West Point. That was pre-9/11 when people could freely tour the academy in their own car. The cemetery is some ways up from the main grounds, and there you can visit the graves of many heroes. Custer, himself, was a graduate of the academy (1861) just in time for the war between the states. And, as always cited in many treatises upon his life, Custer graduated number thirty-four in a class of thirty-four.

Here are three photographs of Custer, two during the war and one taken during a hunting trip after the war. It seems that the gentleman was a dog-lover, but not a complete animal-lover according to our modern terms. I found a photograph of him with a bear he shot dead. I despise hunting and hunters, but I realize that Custer was a product of his times. The ASPCA wasn't in existence yet and the concept of organized efforts directed at animal welfare would be analogous in impertinence to our concept of martians in flying saucers. Imagine, women didn't have voting rights yet at that time.

I like the army staff group photo the most, notice the dog. The men consists of the staff of Gen. Fitz-John during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. Obviously, Custer had not yet attained his brevet rank of General at that time. The dog seemed very familiar and trusting of Custer, and Custer had his reassuring hand on the dog. These photographs tell us that almost definitely dogs traveled with the U.S. army during the civil war, at least with high ranking staff. And perhaps the same can be said about the confederate army. The Dogs of War? Well, yes. But not in the same sense as Frederick Forsyth meant. They were the dogs of war, literally.


LoyaltyOfDogs said…
Great pics, interesting commentary. Yes, dogs not only traveled with high ranking Civil War officers but they were also favorites of the enlisted men, and were sometimes the men's own dogs from civilian life. See more at

Popular posts from this blog

Northern New Jersey. Dog for Adoption. Simba. Pomeranian.

Here's a dog I want you to meet, Simba. He's an energetic little fellow who literally leaps in joy when it's time for a walk. I mean, Simba leaps vertically like he's on a pogo stick. He's very amusing. Simba was rescued from a pound down in West Virginia, and he's now with us in northern New Jersey. I love small dogs, and he's become my most recent favorite. Simba certainly qualifies as a lap dog. Last Sunday, after walking him, we sat in our patio area at the shelter and I gave him tummy rubs and back massages while he laid like a pillow on my lap. I've been told that Simba doesn't like having a collar put around his neck, and so he wears a harness instead. Interestingly, Simba is microchipped. So, he belonged to someone who cared for him. He's a good boy and only two years old. All predict that Simba will get adopted quickly, like most toy dogs do.

Bloomingdale Animal Shelter Society

UPDATE: Adopted by the Small Animal Rescue of Princeton, NJ

Poem. Captivity, Longing. Cruelty. Misery. Free the Animals.

Thumbing through some Robert Frost poems, I was led to this one by Maya Angelou . I don't know if Frost ever had an influence on Angelou, but certainly any American poet living today would be familiar with Frost's work. Frost and Whitman are my favorite poets, and the romantic poets ( Keats, Byron, and Shelley ) I can't bear. I find their work dense, abstruse and impenetrable. It's just a matter of taste and connectivity. I am no expert on verse, but I will accept the opinion of those who are. They warn us that Frost's poetry is deceivingly simple. If we were to try our hand at it, to put complicated emotions into simple verse, we would be tied up in knots.

Anyway, Angelou's poem below, Caged Bird, touches on the plaintive cries, the longing for better things, that captive individuals must go through. You can apply the core meaning or sentiment of this poem to any situation involving imprisonment or captivity, human or animal. Think of the dog in a dank, dark ba…

Hiking. Protection Against Snake Bites. Gaiters.

You might wonder what on Earth are these? They are called, "gaiters," and fashion has nothing to do with them. Gaiters act like shin guards against briars and other thorny plants, worn by those who work outdoors like forestry rangers, ranchers, and farmers. Gaiters come in different styles and material, but they normally protect the ankles up to the knees.

This pair provides protection against snake bites. New material called SuperFabric makes protection possible without putting on the usual thick, cumbersome gaiters with polycarbonate sheets embedded in them. This pair is flexible and light, made by Whitewater. I got this pair from

I believe that such protection is necessary for hikers considering that rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths are not rare along the trails, and they can be difficult to spot on the ground. I am willing to accept the prevailing theory that snakes, like most wild animals, will avoid hikers if given enough tim…