by Charles G. Worman
For centuries animals have gone to war involuntarily, and our Civil War was no exception.
A countless number of four-legged and winged creatures served as soldiers' and sailors' pets, sharing the hardships of military life on land and sea.
A few gained national prominence as regimental mascots, the most famous being Old Abe, the bald eagle which campaigned with the 8th Wisconsin Infantry.
Pets provided a valuable service in relieving homesickness and other stresses of war.
Dogs were the most common but cats found favor within the Union and Confederate navies for their role in combatting the hordes of rats and mice which infested ships.
But, tales of such other creatures as squirrels, racoons, bears, and even a camel are found within this book. Some accounts are humorous, but others are tragic.
Useful as pets were as morale builders, they weren't the essential resource which horses and mules were for cavalry, artillery, and transportation units as well as for officers' mounts. It has been estimated that more than two million horses and mules served during the war.
- S/L #21747