Ah, another 4th Of July in Britain. For the American father, it’s time to break out the propaganda and indoctrinate my children! Last year’s 4th Of July Books For The Kids post from me covers some of what’s been on my reading list for the kids this week. But tonight I wanted to talk about a fun book that’s not on that list: George Washington and the General’s Dog.
It turns out the George Washington was a big animal lover — especially dogs. And back when The War Of Independence was fought, it was common for soldiers to take dogs with them. Washington brought his, as did the opposing British general, William Howe.
In October 1777, during the Battle of Germantown in Pennsylvania, Howe’s dog got loose — and was found by the Americans (Howe’s name was on the dog’s collar).
Some of the American soldiers apparently wanted to taunt the British by keeping it, but Washington had it returned. He wrote a personal note to Howe, and the dog was delivered under a flag of truce. The note read:
General Washington’s compliments to General Howe. He does himself the pleasure to return him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the Collar appears to belong to General Howe.
The book I read to the kids covers the story quite well. But in writing this up, I came across a longer book — General Howe’s Dog: George Washington, the Battle for Germantown and the Dog Who Crossed Enemy Lines — for those who want to explore the story to the depth of 176 pages.
Actually, I would, since our shorter book for the kids talks about how the act helped make some of the Brits think a little less harshly about Washington, while some of the other accounts I’ve mentioned above say the act caused Howe to be perhaps less ruthless in going after Washington’s troops.
A fun story, especially being true. Sadly, Howe’s dog doesn’t make Wikipedia’s list of famous dogs nor gets a mention in the Battle Of Germantown entry. Heh — maybe I’ll do some Wikipedia editing of my own in the near future!
Happy Fourth Of July, to my fellow Americans, wherever you’re celebrating!