Monday, February 17, 2014

Two Louisiana Black Bear Cubs Serve As Military 'Mascots' During Civil War, Survive Battle, 1864

From the Janesville Gazette, August 31, 1864:

"The oddest pets we have yet seen, says a Washington paper, were two bears, which the 12th Maine Regiment, of the Nineteenth Corps, led through the city recently. These bears were brought all the way from Louisiana, and have been in several fights. The have become perfectly tame and tractable, and march along at the head of the band, with an air that indicates they feel themselves veteran soldiers of the bruin order, and that they have a character to sustain."

From Curiosities of the Civil War by Webb Garrison:

"Diaries and letters reveal that men in blue as well as men in gray spent time with pets to break the monotony of camp life.  Officers of a Minnesota outfit bragged to comrades that their mascot was a bear cub who 'smelt powder in a dozen engagements before being sent home in good condition."

Author Garrison continues:

"At least one Confederate unit from Arkansas had as its mascot a wild cat, and a Louisiana regiment took a pelican to war."