Rufus Ingalls’ Dalmatian was a favorite and favored companion of the general, and accompanied him whether he traveled by saddle horse or by buggy.
Rufus Ingalls, a classmate of US Grant at West Point, worked his way efficiently up to rank of Brigadier General. At City Point, “Grant placed him in charge of supply with responsibility for all armies operating against Petersburg and Richmond.” (NPS) One of Grant’s secrets of success was his clear understanding of the value of logistics, and Ingalls made City Point a masterpiece of logistics, with a huge supply depot and one of the busiest wharves in the world. While Mr & Mrs General Grant and son occupied a pokey little cabin there, General Ingalls and his entourage got the main plantation house, Appomattox Manor.
Ingalls’ entourage included his Dalmatian coach dog. A favorite and favored companion, the dog accompanied the general whether he traveled by saddle horse or by buggy. One photograph even features him solo, proudly posed on the steps of the big house. (I picture the general steadying and posing the dog, crooning to its vanity, then darting back as the photographer takes the shot.) Another photo (to come in a later post) shows him as part of the family.
Of the breed, the American Kennel Club says: “There is no end of proof, centuries old, among history that shows the Dalmatian…plying his trade as follower and guardian of the horse-drawn vehicle.” The dog would clear a path for the horses, guarding against impertinent dogs and urchins. As the familiar firefighters’ mascot, he acted as an alarm for the speeding engine. “His affinity for horses remains a basic instinct to this day and it is fascinating indeed to watch an adolescent fall in behind a horse and cart in perfect position or trot just beside the shoulder of a horse upon his initial introduction, as if he had been doing it all his life, which, of course, his ancestors have! He is physically fitted for road work; speed and endurance blended perfectly in his make-up. His gait has beauty of motion and swiftness and he has the strength, vitality and fortitude to keep going gaily until journey’s end.”