5/28/16

Jack Brutus: Spanish-American War Mascot



Jack Brutus, also known as Old Jack, became famous in history as the official mascot for Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.


Jack Brutus in uniform

Old Jack was born in Cumberland, Maine in 1891 and led an exciting life even before he served his country. According to George Thayer (who wrote a book about the history of Company K), "He [Jack] had friends in most of the cities in New England through his associations with the traveling public at the West End Hotel at Portland. Frequently he visited them in their own homes, taking passage in some steamer or boarding some train, and returning to Portland in due time."

In May 1898, Company K met Brutus at Fort Preble in Portland, Maine. The soldiers bonded quickly with the dog and declared him as their company's official mascot. Old Jack traveled with the men as they encamped at various places on the Eastern seaboard - from Maine to Virginia - providing coastal defense during the Spanish-American War.

Brutus was a large breed dog and about seven years old during his service with Company K. While at Camp Alger near Falls Church, Virginia, he had a hard time tolerating the heat and the soldiers feared he would not survive. The men took well care of Jack and eventually he recovered. Old Jack also had a snoring problem that would wake the soldiers at night. A vote was taken on who was the "loudest snorer" in the camp and Brutus came in second place.

In late 1898, Wagoner Ahearn mustered out of the Army and took Jack home with him. While under a physician's care, Old Jack died from spinal problems on November 20 of that year. He was given a suitable burial and will always be remembered as a loyal war dog to the men in Company K.