The “Hero” of Castle Thunder

On June 3, 1865—only a few weeks after the surrender ceremonies at Appomattox Court House—Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper ran the following article about the former Confederate-run prison in Richmond called Castle Thunder … with a focus on one of its most infamous guards, which it profiled alongside the sketch below:

“Russian Bloodhound from Castle Thunder.

The famous Russian bloodhound Hero, from Castle Thunder, has been sent to Washington in a close carriage, creating quite a sensation in the capital. Hero was formerly owned by one of the keepers of Castle Thunder, and kept there as one of the preventives against prisoners escaping. He belongs emphatically to the tribe of ‘heavy dogs,’ seven feet long from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, is three feet eight inches tall, measuring from the fore-shoulders down, and weighs 178 pounds. On two occasions, before he was three years old, he whipped two bears on Belle Island. A royal Bengal could hardly give a better growl. Mr. Munn, sutler, 140th New York, brought him from Richmond only a few days ago. At first he had an intense dislike—the result of his traitorous teachings no doubt—to one of our soldiers’ blue uniforms; but he is rapidly overcoming this antipathy, and daily gives indication of growing tolerance of Union soldiers and Union sentiment.”

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper
“Russian Bloodhound ‘Hero,’ from Castle Thunder—from a photograph,” reads the caption that accompanied this illustration.

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