Daniel Stearns and the Barking Dog Regiment

A Civil War Tale from Northeast Ohio

By Paul Siedel
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2022, All Rights Reserved

Several weeks ago, while strolling through the Battle of Franklin Museum in Franklin, Tennessee, I happened upon one of the exhibits titled “Harvey: Company Companion and Comrade.” The exhibit was about a soldier who enlisted in the army and brought along his dog, Harvey. The soldier’s name was Daniel Stearns, and being from the west side of Cuyahoga County, I thought I’d ask the person at the desk where Daniel Stearns had enlisted, there being a Stearns Road near where I grew up. The computer spit out the information on the soldier in question. It said that Stearns enlisted near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is not what I wanted to hear.

Daniel Stearns

I turned to go, and the attendant said that Stearns was, however, from northeast Ohio, which sparked my interest. I asked what county, and the attendant said Cuyahoga County, Ohio. This sparked my interest even more! Many roads in the northeast Ohio area are named after early settlers, and in the western part of Cuyahoga County there is Stearns Road. I thought there might be some connection, so I began to dig. I contacted my good friend Rachel Zambo at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in downtown Cleveland. She also has done research on Stearns, and here is what she graciously shared with me. She found out that the Daniel Stearns in the exhibit was not from the Olmsted branch of the family, but from the Berea side of the extended family.


Daniel Stearns, who at the time was living near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, enlisted in the Pennsylvania Reserves in April 1861. He evidently saw no action, so he returned with his dog Harvey to his family home in Berea, Ohio and enlisted in the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on May 19, 1862, taking Harvey along with him. Harvey warmed up to the other members of the regiment, and the 104th soon became known as “The Barking Dog Regiment.” Daniel Stearns was promoted to second lieutenant in November 1862 and then promoted to captain on June 6, 1865. The pair took part in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where Harvey was wounded and fell into the hands of the Confederates. He was later returned under a flag of truce. Stearns and Harvey also took part in the Atlanta Campaign, Chickamauga, Franklin, and Nashville, where Stearns was severely wounded.

Officers of the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Daniel evidently spent time in a Nashville hospital, but was transferred to North Carolina with the rest of his regiment in time for the Confederate surrender in April 1865, which brought all serious fighting to a halt in the Eastern Theater. Stearns was mustered out on June 17, 1865. He then evidently returned to Berea, taking Harvey with him. Daniel went to work selling lots for his brother, who was in the real estate development business. Daniel and Harvey were evidently still a team at this time. Daniel probably had trouble adjusting to civilian life, suffering from what today I would think is called PTSD. He wanted the company of no one except his dog. Whether or not this was still Harvey is not known. Daniel married and went to work as a mechanic for a railroad in Pittsburgh, and later he returned to Berea. He was evidently displaying erratic behavior, and around 1885 his wife had him admitted to the Ohio Asylum for the Insane on Turney Road in Cleveland. Daniel, however, was released and returned to his family in Berea.

Daniel Stearns’ tombstone

Not much is known of his last several years, and there are still Stearns descendants living in Berea and Middleburg Heights. Daniel died in 1890 and is buried in the Stearns family plot in Woodvale Cemetery in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.

Today, after almost 160 years since the end of the conflict, we all know the major events and names associated with the American Civil War, such as Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, and others. But we seldom come across those human interest stories that bring our history to life. However, it behooves us to stop, consider, and at least think about the many stories that are lost to history now that the participants have passed away. I like to think that the story of Daniel Stearns and his dog Harvey from Berea, Ohio is one that will remain with us and be passed down when exploring the history of the Western Reserve.