Animal stories have always enchanted children, and the young readers of Youth’s Companion were no different. These brief pieces explore the relationship between Civil War soldiers and animals: the loyalty of a horse, the tenderness a soldier can show to a cat. The themes weren’t new then, and they’ve been explored many times since; but they’re still entertaining.
“Puss in the Mass. 27th” (from Youth’s Companion, December 26, 1861; p. 206)

The 27th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, embracing some of our own young townsmen, has just left for Annapolis. Our boys had domesticated a pretty kitten, and said, wherever they might go puss should go with them. The caresses bestowed upon this gentle pet, may soften and subdue the brave spirits by whom she is surrounded. Glancing at her in some moment of temptation, they may suddenly recall a gentler spirit now far away, and thoughts of home and woman’s love may triumph over evil. Who knows her mission? Surely the young soldier who folded her so fondly in her arms, as he said, “Yes, wherever I go, this kitten goes and shares my fortune,” had tender sympathies beneath his soldier’s garb, that he did not mean his rough life should crush out. Poor Puss! May the brave boys that shelter you, find hearts as kind to cheer and comfort them, in their hour of extremest need, and God bless our noble Massachusetts men, wherever they may be.

[Scraps for Youth] “Faithful Nellie,” by F. P. C. (from Youth’s Companion, March 23, 1865; p. 46)

Faithful Nellie, a beautiful, gentle creature, was the gift of appreciating friends to a brave young officer, upon his escape and return home last summer from a long imprisonment in vile Southern dungeons. She was a treasure, indeed, an ever-ready, warm-hearted companion and sympathizing friend; never easy unless standing by the side of her beloved master, or bearing him upon her back.

At one time the regiment, (174th Ohio) being exposed to a terrific fire, were obliged to lie down awhile. “Nellie” did not comprehend this movement, and would not “obey orders” until from personal inspection she had satisfied herself that all was right with her master. She then quietly composed herself by his side, turning her head protectingly, as though even then she would gladly be his shield.

Not long after this a charge was ordered upon the works of the enemy. The fire was fearful, and “the boys” halted a moment, when their intrepid commander, waving his sword triumphantly, cried out, “Shall Nellie and I make this charge alone?” and dashed forward, followed by his enthusiastic comrades.

Just at this moment a sharpshooter, concealed near by, sent a bullet through the left temple of our martyr-friend, causing almost instant death. “Faithful Nellie,” missing her burden, ran wildly about a few moments, then recognizing the servant who had charge of her, approached the body of her idolized master, which had been tenderly laid under the cedar where he fell, smelled him from had to foot, and in spite of all attempts to remove her, kept her position near him, although the blood was flowing in streams from four wounds she had received during the engagement, and shot and shell were flying about her like a furious hail storm; and when the body was borne to a tent, Nellie followed with bowed head, as if deeply grieving over her loss.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.