Tuesday, November 27, 2012

GENERAL: A CIVIL WAR DOG

A smooth St. Bernard, 1919.
I think General the Civil War dog
might have looked sort of like this.
This story starts out with a human, Bryan Grimes, who was born on a plantation called Grimesland in North Carolina.  The plantation was very prosperous, so young Master Grimes was able to attend some very good schools while he was growing up.  At the age of 15, he went to the University of North Carolina. After he graduated in 1848, he returned home and learned to be a planter.  A year later, his father gave Grimesland to him, and he also gave him about 100 slaves to do all the hard work.

In 1851, Mr. Grimes got married.  His wife died just six years later, but first she had four children, and one of them died very young.  Mr. Grimes was so sad that he went on a trip to Europe to try to feel better.  When he came back home, the Civil War was about to get started.  He joined the Confederate Army as a major in the 4th North Carolina Infantry on May 16, 1861, and he fought for the first time in the First Battle of Bull Run, two months later.


General Byran Grimes
Major Grimes was in most of the battles in the eastern part of the country, including Gettysburg.  He got promoted several times because he was such a good officer.  On February 15, 1865, General Robert E. Lee made him a Major General.  This made General Grimes the last man appointed to that rank in the Army of Northern Virginia before the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.

In September of 1863, General Grimes had got married again.  He and his second wife eventually had ten children together.  This is a lot of children, if you ask me, but no one did.

Okay, so that's the part about General Grimes, and now I will tell you the more important story, which is about General, the dog.  In June of 1864, at Cold Harbor, Virginia, the Confederates had been fighting the Union soldiers for a while, and then the Union soldiers started to retreat.  So the rebels took over the yankee breastworks and camps.  General Grimes wrote this in a letter to his wife:

Here I captured a fine St. Bernard dog, which was protecting the corpse of a Colonel of a Pennsylvania regiment, who upon inspection was found to have on steel breast plates which had protected him so long as his face was to the fire, but upon retreating had received a mortal wound in the rear...

General Grimes named the dog General, and he kept the breast plate "as a memento of the battlefield" and "Yankee cowardice."  General became a mascot for the regiment and went with them through some of their hardest fights.  Sadly, General eventually "succumbed to the hard marching, broke down and was lost, not having the endurance of men."


Grimesland
After the war, General Grimes moved back to Grimesland and became a farmer again.  In 1877, he was named a trustee of the University of North Carolina.  He died in 1880 when he was shot by a hired assassin named William Parker.  Probably the reason Mr. Grimes was shot was to keep him from testifying in a criminal trial.  Mr. Parker was tried, but he got acquitted.  He went away for several years, but then he showed up in Washington one day and got drunk and boasted about killing General Grimes.  He was put in jail, but a bunch of men came the next morning and took Mr. Parker out and hung him.  Nobody seemed to care too much who had done this, so there was not really any effort to find the assassins of the assassin.

Anyway, I wish I could have told you more about General, the dog, but there wasn't much information about him.  So that's why I had to mostly talk about General Grimes, the person.  But he turned out to be at least somewhat interesting, so I hope you still learned something.

2 comments:

  1. Dear Piper-

    Your post today was especially interesting to mom as she had a college prof with the last name of Grimes. She does not believe it is the same Grimes you wrote of but she feels it is a realative. (She went to school in NC, so geographically this theory fits.)

    Your friend,
    Zest, superstar by the fireplace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that since Gen. Grimes had so many children, it is likely that anybody in NC with the name Grimes is related to him! LOL I don't like the name Grimesland for his plantation, but nobody asked me. "Basenjiland" would be a much better name.

      I would sit by the fire tonight, but Mom didn't make one because she wanted to play around on the computer upstairs.

      Your friend,
      Piper

      Delete