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?




  • How funny: Just this morning my daughter was telling me this exact story about General Washington’s love for dogs and the lost British dog he returned because of it. And here you are, reblogging it today of all days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • A neat story, not one I’d come across before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Historical Diaries

      I am not sure if you need any advice but Facebook groups help a lot in getting your blog post out there. Post them in relevant groups!


    • The Historical Diaries

      Ooops meant to comment that on your post. Thank you I am glad you liked the story!


    • The Historical Diaries

      As always thank you for the re-blog! I see you are on Facebook and liked your page, and shared it on mine. I wanted to send you a friend request but couldn’t. Feel free to send me one if you would like!


  • So civilized back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I heard, though, that there is a couple add-ons to this story. Gen. Washington gave an additional instruction to Hamilton – while you are there…. Washington did not know if the British planned on attacking during or after the winter; knowing their plan would make a difference in how he planned. And so, while Gen. Howe was distracted reuniting and playing with his dog, Hamilton was able to catch some glances of Howe’s plans. The plans apparently showed they would launch their attack after winter. And so Hamilton was able to report this back to Washington, and Washington was able to plan accordingly and were thus ready for the British when they did attack.
    Also, after the war, this act of kindness from Gen. Washington was reported back to England. So although he was the enemy, he was respected among the Britains for his noble character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Historical Diaries

      I had no idea about sneaking a look at battle plans! What a dangerous thing for Hamilton. Men have hanged for less! Thanks for sharing this additional piece of information. 🐕


  • “What do you think of George Washington himself?”, you ask. Beyond his being “a prominent figure remembered for the numerous things he accomplished throughout his life,” I really didn’t have an opinion of him as a person until I recently read a National Book Award finalist titled NEVER CAUGHT (subtitled THE WASHINGTONS’ RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THEIR RUNAWAY SLAVE, ONA JUDGE), by Erica Armstrong Dunbar.. It’s a real eye-opener which I highly recommend for an insight into the man (as well as his wife, Martha).


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