A sizable crowd filled the Carter House Visitor Center Thursday evening for the unveiling of a “soldier” who brought a good bit of emotional support to those who were from the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry fighting in the Battle of Franklin nearly 155 years ago.
They were there to honor Harvey, who did his soldiering on four feet instead of two during the Civil War and beyond its end. He was the dog who served as a mascot for the 104th Ohio that was located on the main Federal line of defense south of Franklin, positioned near Fountain Branch Carter’s cotton gin, during the Battle of Franklin on the afternoon of Nov. 30, 1864.
Harvey was well known and mentioned by soldiers. Adam Weaver of Company ‘I’ wrote, “The regiment’s mascot, old dog Harvey, just paid us a visit. He somehow always looks me up. After a little bite and a hand pat too, moves on to Company ‘F’ boys.”
A bronze sculpture of Harvey created by Franklin artist Janel Maher now sits in the Visitor Center and is considered the first tangible component completed for the new Carter House museum.
“I think the one thing that always struck me about Harvey is that, war is a terrible thing, and this creature from home offered some semblance of being normal [for the soldiers],” Eric Jacobson, CEO of the Battle of Franklin Trust, said. “I really think that’s why Harvey wasn’t just with them throughout 1863 and ’64, but he was with them years after the war… He was certainly very close to the hearts of the men who fought.”
The Battle of Franklin Trust co-hosted the unveiling with Animalia Health & Wellness, a Franklin veterinary practice that provided funding for the sculpture.
Maher, who is known for capturing the heart, soul and very essence in her sculptures, said the more she sculpted, the more attached she became to Harvey.
“It is my honor to have created Harvey,” she told the crowd. “When I was working on clay with Harvey, I visualized him and the soldiers. I did a lot of thinking about that, and in the end I think I had grown quite fond of Harvey. So I’m hoping when visitors come here, they will feel his presence and they will give him a pat on the head.”
The Carter House Visitor Center is located at 1140 Columbia Ave. in Franklin.