Loyal Hearts: Histories of Civil War Canines
by Michael Zucchero, Schroeder Publications
Every so often a Civil War book comes along that is both unique and enjoyable to read. Loyal Hearts: Histories of Civil War Canines is one such offering. Author Michael Zucchero offers the poignant and sometimes heart-wrenching tales of the canine mascots of 19 regiments, chronicling their stories in the words of soldiers who truly loved their four-legged (and often battle-scarred) comrades, deftly interweaving just the right amount of narrative to place events.
Zucchero has assembled 57 rare cartes-de-visite and other photographic images of the dogs by themselves, with their owners and with other members of their regiments. These delightful images alone are worth the price of the book.
Loyal Hearts may be enjoyed on two levels: as good dog stories, and more important as a seldom-opened window into the hearts of Civil War soldiers as revealed through their mascots. And these men took their dogs seriously. The men of Company A, 56th New York Volunteer Infantry, pooled their money to buy a silver collar for their mascot, Jack. It bore the inscription, “Jack: the hero of many battles. The members of Company A, 56th New York Infantry, present this as a lasting memento, feeling confident that could his language be interpreted he would say victory or death.” The pooch of Company A of the 11th Ohio wore a badge around its neck that boasted, “I’m Company A’s Dog, Whose Dog are You?”
I heartily recommend Loyal Hearts to anyone interested in the day-to-day life of Civil War soldiers, as well as to dog lovers, North and South.
Originally published in the October 2009 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.