Curly the Dog – the 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Background

The 11th Ohio Infantry was formed in April of 1861 by Colonel Charles A. De Villiers. This initial service was for just three months. However, the 11th was reformed on June 20, 1861 for three years of service in the war. The 11th Ohio was commanded by Ogden Street, A.H. Coleman, and P.P. Lane.

Credit: http://www.ohiocivilwar.com/cw11.html Photo of Chaplin Wm. W. Lyle, 11th OVI

This regiment served in West Virginia until the fall of 1861. It was at that point that the 11th Ohio was made a part of the Army of the Potomac. As a part of this new army, the 11th fought at Bull Run, South Mountain, and Antietam.

When 1863 began, the regiment was moved to the Western Army, specifically in Tennessee. The 11th saw combat at Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. They also fought at Buzzard’s Roost and suffered heavy casualties there. After this, the regiment returned to Camp Dennison and broke ranks on June 21, 1864.

Besides the brave service of this regiment, there is another story of note with the 11th Ohio. That is the story of Curly the dog. When the regiment formed in 1861, a women, Mrs. Shellabarger, was in possession of too many dogs. One of those dogs in particular was “no good on earth for anything she knew of; so he ought to make a good soldier.”

Curly became a mascot for the regiment. He was a water spaniel with brown eyes and spots. He was a brevet comrade of the regiment and would even go into battle with the 11th Ohio.

Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Water_Spaniel

The following is an account of Curly and his time with the 11th Ohio. This account was written after the war on May 5, 1888 by T.L. Stewart. The following details the adventures of Curly and his time spent with the 11th Ohio regiment.

By T.L. Stewart, 11th O.V.I. The Dog of a Ohio Regiment

Surviving members of General George Crook’s “Kanawha” (W. Va.) division (later General John B. Turchin’s) First brigade, Third division, Fourteenth corps, army of the Cumberland, will remember “Curly.”

The 19th of April, 1861, found us in camp as Company A, Eleventh Ohio. Mrs. John Shellabarger had too many dogs, so she gave Curly to John Crouse, and he brought him to our company as a recruit, telling us Mrs. S. had said he was no good on earth for anything she knew of; so he ought to make a good soldier.

Curly was a water spaniel, liver-colored with a few white spots, large, beautiful brown eyes, wide, intelligent forehead, with a white face, and soon won his way to the hearts of all in his regiment.

When the regiment organized for three years Curly was included as brevet comrade of his company, and went with them to West Virginia, where he took an active part in the campaigns of the regiment. He was always in the advance, and during a skirmish would run between the lines barking, as much as to say the chaps over there were no friends of his.

On August 17, 1862, the regiment embarked on steamers from camp Piatt, and were soon heading down the Kanawha toward the Ohio. Heading up that stream the men soon jumped to the conclusion it was to the east Gen. J.D. Cox was taking us. We had now been “sogers” long enough for each company to own one or more dogs, and they were getting to be a burden; so our “majah” thought it a good time to unload the mongrel brood. He had a man detailed that night to throw every cur overboard and let him swim for his life, either to free Ohio or the “sacred isle.” The detail reported to the major he was afraid to throw Company A’s dog Curly overboard, saying if he did he was a goner sure. So that much of the order was revoked and our dog saved.

When the boats got as far as Blennerhasset’s Island, the regiment had to disembark, owing to the bottom of the river being so near the surface, and Curly marched to Parkersburg, W.Va., with us; from there we had a B. & O. stock-car to Harper’s Ferry. He stuck to his command at second Bull Run, Frederick City, Sand Mountain and Antietam; then back to Clarksburg, W.Va.; then we marched overland to Summerville, W.Va.

At Buchanan Company I. was target practicing a little, when Curly ran into the bushes behind the target. Captain Staley fired about that time, and caught Curly in the neck, just about where he wore his badge, which bore this legend:

” I am company A’s dog. Whose dog are you?”

Captain Hatfield detailed a nurse, and Curly was placed in a wagon, carefully nursed, and soon reported for duty. He got into a goodly number of scrapes for a member of such a modest, moral regiment as the Eleventh Ohio was reputed to be.

At Chickamauga Curly elected to stay on the field to take care of our wounded, as he knew how it was himself. Think of the friendly, pitying glance of their mute comrade as he passed from one wounded sufferer to another and could render no aid; but he was true and resisted the blandishments of the confed who tempted him with a morsel of food to leave his old comrades. When General Thomas arranged for the parole and return of our wounded, Curly took advantage of the flag of truce, and came in with the unfortunates.

Here his luck went dead against him. A captain of another regiment – the Tenth Ohio, I believe – saw him and took quite a fancy to him and tied him up to his tent. The boys of company A, finding Curly had come in set out to find him, and soon did so. The captain claimed the dog and refused to part with him. The colonel of the Tenth, hearing the rumpus, came up to learn what it was all about. Jule Ogier, I think, spoke for Curly and asked only that he be let loose, which the colonel ordered done, when the dog rushed among his friends. So Curly once more took his place at the camp-fire and mess table.

Curly was at Mission Ridge after that. As the regiment came home, in 1864, he got shoved off the cars while in motion somewhere near Bowling Green, Ky. One of our regiment was sent back, and poor Curly was found with a leg broken. He was carefully patched up and returned to Dayton, where he found a home with his old comrade, Baggot, near Osborn, O.

The Eleventh boys wanted Curly at all reunions, so a comrade in Dayton, O., took him. Later he was sent to the central branch of the national soldiers home, D.V.S. at Dayton. He fared sumptuously there and lived to the good old age of twelve years, when he died amongst his soldier friends and was buried by them in the hallowed and patriotic precincts of that beautiful place.

By: T.L. Stewart, Co. A, Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in National Tribune.

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