Article Series

Series: The Burden of Beasts

Though the battles were fought by men, Animals played important roles in the Civil War in a variety of capacities. Many units adopted mascots, including dogs, cats, pigs, goats, and even a bald eagle. Key roles such as officer's direction of battles, the transport of messages and orders, and the work of cavalrymen were conducted on horseback. Horses joined mules and oxen in pulling supply wagons, ambulances, and artillery pieces. Without animals it would have been a very different war. "A hor

  • Chapter 1: Animals of the Armies

    Photograph of mules pulling a cart through a brook

    Animals played important roles in the Civil War for a variety of reasons. Some animals were strickly for feeding the army and others were used for power, like the mules that powered C&O Canal boats. Read more

  • Manassas National Battlefield Park

    Chapter 2: Fast and Flexible

    Image of an advertisement for joining the Calvary

    Cavalry acted as the eyes and ears of the army for both the Union and Confederacy, conducting reconnaissance and gathering intelligence. In addition to combat, cavalry also screened marches of infantry, guarded wagon trains, and raided enemy supplies. Read more

  • Chapter 3: More than Necessary: Horses

    General George McClellan on his horse

    For a Civil War general, a horse could be much more than just transportation and a better view of the battlefield. A brave, dignified mount could be a symbol of authority and inspire the troops almost as much as the man in the saddle. Read more

  • Chapter 4: Man's Best Friend

    Photograph of Lt. George A. Custer with his dog

    During the Civil War, dogs were used from companions to guard dogs of prisons. The connection between a man and a dog cannot be matched, especially when he is so many miles away from home and fighting in a war. Read more