Friday, June 15, 2018

A matter of historical record: The story behind Gambo’s mysterious dog grave by Walter Lunt

Last of a two-part series

As reported in part one (The Windham Eagle-June 1, 2018), a lonely gravestone overlooking the quiet flow of the Presumpscot River in South Windham belongs to a greyhound dog named Malsee. The inscription identifies Malsee as the faithful friend of Gen. Hooton and suggests a connection with the First Regiment at Chickamauga, Spanish-American /War.

Gen. Hooton in 1898. He was a fan of greyhounds. He buried his beloved greyhound, Malsee, in Windham. The exact inscription on the stone states: "In memory of Malsee, General Hooton's faithful Grayhound. Born in Montana 1894. Died 1908 with First Regt at Chickamauga in Spanish War"

Research by local resident Alan Anderson, confirms Malsee was the favorite of several greyhounds owned by Gen. Mott Hooton, who spent nearly a lifetime in the U.S. Army over three wars

Evidence suggests that Hooton’s half-sister, Sally Rhodes, cared for Malsee in South Windham, a location far from the general’s life experiences. It is likely he would trust only family to look after his beloved and “faithful friend.”

Malsee’s solitary gravesite, with its inscription (see box quote) was a decades-old mystery until Anderson, after years of searching, discovered that the general has a biographer.

Kevin Brown and Amy King, two Pennsylvania writers, are currently collaborating on a book about Hooton, who, they have learned had a classic and triumphant military career.
Mott Hooton was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1838. He attended Bolmar’s Academy in West Chester; which is described as semi-military in discipline.

As Hooton recorded humbly in his military memoirs, “Shortly after Fort Sumpter was fired on, I enlisted in a company (and) mustered into the 1st Infantry Pennsylvania Reserve Corps.” The historical record reveals a modest man who had deep respect for the uniform he wore and a profound love of country (and greyhound dogs). He glosses over his many promotions and minimizes the reasons for them. He rose through the ranks during the Civil War, having fought in numerous major battles, including the Peninsula campaign, the second Battle of Bull Run (where he was severely wounded – 1862), Gettysburg (1863) and the Overland Campaign (1864).

In 1865, he was promoted and recognized for gallant and meritorious service in the Wilderness Campaign.

By 1866, Hooton was engaged with the 22nd Infantry and spent the next 30 years as an Indian fighter on frontier posts in Montana, Colorado and Texas where he took part in one of the most famous incidents with Sitting Bull, during the Centennial Campaign of 1876. His gallantry in the two-day battle would see him rewarded with a brevet of Major in the U.S. Regular Army.

Details of this and other running battles with Sioux Indians can be found at 1898, as noted in his military memoir, “When the Spanish-American War broke out…I commanded the first troops that moved in the war.”
As a major in the 5th Infantry (the famed Negro Regiment) that made the historic charge up San Juan Hill, Hooton again distinguished himself and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.
In 1901, as he neared mandatory retirement, Hooton was charged with organizing a new infantry, and in the process found yet another way to bring honor to his name.
Reports of drunkenness and disorderliness among enlisted men were somewhat common on pay days. In an effort to establish order early-on, Hooton addressed the over 600 new troops just prior to their first 2-month pay: “Your commanding officer indulges (in) the hope that your behavior (will) reflect credit upon yourselves, this new regiment and upon the army as a whole. (Let) no act bring disgrace on the uniform you wear.”
A local newspaper observed the order to be, “dignified and an appeal to the soldiers’ better nature…true American manhood responded (because) not a single case of disorderly conduct occurred.”
Hooton retired in 1902. He had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He came to Windham to help his sister, Sally, care for their dead sister, Annie Charey’s children. Gen. Hooton had become their surrogate father.
Eventually, they moved to Gardiner, Maine where Hooton passed away in 1920 at the age of 82. His connection to the town Windham rests with Malsee on the marble gravestone near the Presumpscot water at Gambo.

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