Our own regiment had a pet of great value and high regard in “Little Jim,”…a small rat terrier of fine blooded stock…given by a friend to John C. Kensill, with whom he was mustered into the United States service “for three years, or during the war,” on Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 1862….Around his neck was a silver collar with the inscription, “Jim Kensill, Co. F, One Hundred Fiftieth Regt. P.V….”

He was a good soldier…caring not a wag of his tail for the biggest shells the Johnnies could toss over at us. He was with us under our first shell fire at “Clarke’s Mills,” a few miles below Fredericksburg, in May 1863, and ran after the very first shell that came screaming over our heads….Fortunately that first shell did not explode, and when others came that did explode, Jim, with true military instinct, soon learned to run after them and bark, but to keep a respectful distance from them….

When the regiment was mustered out of service at the end of the war, Little Jim was mustered out too. He stood up in rank with the boys, and wagged his tail for joy that peace had come and that his discharge papers were regularly made out, the same as those of the men, and that they read thus:

“…Said Jim Kensill…is six years of age, six inches high, dark complexion, black eyes, black-and-tan hair, and by occupation when enrolled a rat-terrier….”

Before parting with him, the boys bought him a silver collar, which they had suitably inscribed, and which, having honorably earned in the service of his country in war, he proudly wore in peace to the day of his death.


Harry M. Kieffer, “‘Little Jim,’ The Pride of the Regiment,” Battles and Leaders of the Civil War

Originally published in the April 2006 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here