Lost Dog of the American Revolution – The Kindness of George Washington

The story begins on a bloody and cold day in October. A huge battle rages all around in a place called Germantown. A little dog is lost in the aftermath ….

General George Washington

George Washington is a prominent figure remembered for the numerous things he accomplished throughout his life. He is a founding father that led the U. S through a revolutionary war which would eventually allow the American colonies to gain independence from Britain. Washington was commander of the continental army and is normally considered the first president of the United States of America. The inexperienced military leader was victorious, gracious, and well suited as a soldier. He secured necessary victories at Yorktown which won the war; however, he did not always win the battle.

In the hot summer of 1777, General William Howe of the British Army began to turn his on eye on Philadelphia. The city was a central location for Washington and his forces. The invasion was a success that allowed British to take control of the city. The loss of Philadelphia had occurred right before some major defeats in September 1777. It was a crushing blow for those seeking independence; moreover, it was not the last failure. General Howe had begun splitting forces in October as the season begun getting colder.

George Washington wanted an opportunity to raise the spirits of his men and achieve a victory. He saw an opportunity with British forces being spread out. He sent his men to Germantown to attack those stationed at the Garrison in hopes of gaining control. It did not work. British soldiers once again outmaneuvered Washington and his men. This ensured that Philadelphia remained in British hands for the entire remainder of the war.  It was quite disheartening; however, encouragement and pride can be taken from what happens next.

A little dog is found on the battlefield in the aftermath by American soldiers. The creature is clearly lost and without their owner. This was not uncommon as dogs often followed their masters into battle and on marches. Washington was very fond of dogs and brought a couple to battle himself while he traveled with his army. On this day in October, the little-lost dog was a terrier and was no ordinary dog. On the collar was the name of its master. Can you guess?

General William Howe

General William Howe was listed on the dog’s collar tag. The soldiers were feeling rather discouraged due to the constant defeats they had been suffering at the time. They had wanted to keep the pet as a war trophy. George Washington was not okay with this. Sources say he had taken the animal into his tent where he was fed, groomed, and taken care of. The man then ordered his army to return the dog to General Howe under a flag of truce.

Washington had his aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, a military officer who acted as his confidential assistant write Howe a note that read:

“General Washington’s compliments to General Howe. He does himself the pleasure to return [to] him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the collar appears to belong to General Howe.” 

Reflecting on the story of General Howe’s dog brings an interesting aspect to war and humanizes the men that were there. They were just regular people fighting for what they believed in. This story shows the kinder side of human nature. They could have kept General Howe’s pet. It was caring of Washington to not resort to such behavior. This story shows that the man had plenty of compassion for right and wrong even during wartime.  Please comment below if you know any more facts about this incident, have opinions, or anything you would like to add. What do you think of George Washington himself?




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