Dogs of the American Revolution


Chloe, my all "American," American Cocker Spaniel, who is not to
be confused with her cousin, the "English" Cocker Spaniel on this July 4th!

By July 4th 1776, the American Revolution was already a year old. Fighting between the British and the American colonies occupied the fields and woodlands of many a colonial towns and villages where the war played across a unique assemblage of battle grounds. Growing up in Griggstown, New Jersey, I had the opportunity to experience first hand many of these places where historical events had taken place.

Just down the road was the John Honeyman house, a weaver who turned spy for the American army. The town's cemetery where several of my relatives now lay also included the burial plots of Revolutionary soldiers. George Washington himself headquartered in the neighboring town of Rocky Hill. You might say I was steeped in the history of the American Revolution and as someone who enjoyed understanding the past, our New Jersey community was a great place to grow up.

The Griggstown Bridge over the Delaware Raritan Canal.
My New Jersey hometown rich with Revolutionary War history.
The Revolutionary war also saw its share of dogs mixed in on both sides. It is reported that a number of the higher ranking British and American commanders brought along their canines as both a companion and for recreational hunting. The newspapers of the time have listings of American soldiers that had placed ads seeking assistance when their dog went missing, especially after a battle or during periods of encampment.

One of the most famous of dog tales and one that played out in my backyard was that of Charles Mawhood commander of the British garrison forces stationed in Princeton, New Jersey. According to historical accounts, Mawhood was often seen accompanied with his two dogs that would follow him into military engagement. 

British forces charge the American army at the Battle of Princeton.
At the Battle of Princeton (January 1777), it was reported that Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood, cut a striking pose in his British military uniform when he came into view riding his horse. On each side of the commander were his two springer spaniels that kept even pace with each stride of the horse's movement. It seemed that Mawhood displayed such an air of arrogance toward the American army that instead of fighting a war, he was merely parading as if he was set to engage on a fox hunt.  

As history has it, Charles Mawhood lost the Battle of Princeton when General Washington arrived with American reinforcements. The British troops were sent scrambling in retreat, and the American army achieved a victory that turned the tide of the Revolution.

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