From Ancient times to Belleau France and the mystical legend of Bulldog fountain. History and Heritage being kept alive today!
Jiggs, virtually a symbol of the Marine Corps in his own right, was whelped in Philadelphia on the 22nd of May, 1922. The little pup was a regular blue-blood. Sired by the famous English Bulldog "Rob Roy", Jiggs' formal title was, in fact, "King Bulwark", which might have made him, upon enlistment, the only Marine ever to outrank the Commandant. However, when "King Bulwark" entered the Marine Corps on the 14th of October, 1922, Brigadier General Smedley Butler, who signed the enlistment papers, very sensibly demoted the King to private, thereby turning the aristocratic canine into a regular egalitarian, not to mention preserving the Chain of Command. Ever afterwards, the royal bulldog was known only as "Jiggs".
Doubtless due to his lineage~ or, as we would say, his connections~ promotion for Jiggs was rapid. Within two and a half weeks he was wearing corporal's chevrons and by New Year's Day 1924 had become a sergeant. By the following July he had been promoted to Sergeant Major.
(Photo below: Sergeant Major Jiggs with General Smedley Butler, courtesy of D.A. Red Millis II, GySgt USMC Retired; Curator, Marine Corps Legacy Museum.
Sergeant Major Jiggs
The First Unofficially Official Mascot of the Marine Corps
Sergeant Major Jiggs
as an Old Campaigner
U.S. Marine Corps photograph
Sergeant Major Jiggs set for a little scrimmage
course common knowledge that the English aristocracy has always been dissolute, and in this regard Jiggs was, alas, no exception. Repeatedly courtmartialed for breaches of etiquette and deportment, Jiggs (always soon reinstated) led a pampered and overfed existence in the glow of publicity and stardom, at one point sharing the cinematic limelight with Lon Chaney in the 1926 production, "Tell It To the Marines".
Perhaps due to gastronomic immoderation, the pressures of stardom, or the keeping of late hours on the town, Jiggs died before his time on January 9th, 1927, some four months short of his fifth birthday. Lying in state in a satin-lined coffin in a hanger at Quantico, surrounded by banks of flowers and flanked by two Marine guards, Jiggs' passing was mourned throughout the Corps.
"This moss-banked fountain in the heart of
the ancient village of Belleau, France, has
become ~ by a quirk of history ~ a central symbol in the lore of the U.S. Marine Corps. The iconography of the fountain, of course, greatly predates the arrival of the Marines in 1918. The "bulldog" of the fountain is, in fact, a bull mastiff, doubtless one of the hunting mastiffs for which the Chateau of Belleau was famous. It was to this same Chateau of Belleau which Belleau Wood, Bois de Belleau, belonged by tradition. The cold & pristine water which gushes from the mastiff's mouth is the "beautiful water", belle eau, for which the village itself was named. When the Marines took Belleau Wood from the Germans in June, 1918, they had just been dubbed Teufelhunden, "devil dogs", by their opponents, a soubriquet which the Leathernecks quite cheerfully adopted. Almost at once, depictions of fierce helmeted hounds began appearing on recruiting posters and even in the letters of the Marines themselves. And so it was that when the first Marines entered the shattered, abandoned village of Belleau, begrimed by battle & the unrelenting heat, they must have greeted the sight of this venerable canine with particular delight. For not only, in the wake of their fiercest battle to that time, could they luxuriate in the clear & cooling stream, slaking thirst & swabbing their steaming necks, but, in the very act of replenishment, in a ritualistic partaking of restorative water bestowed by the beast, they affirmed, as though with a warriors' toast of raised aluminum cups & canteens, the newest & hardest-won symbol of the Corps: Teufelhunden ~ Devil Dogs ~ Bulldogs of the Marne.
Now that this stirring portrait has been painted, it must be confessed that nothing of the sort ever occured. Though the Marines took Belleau Wood in late June, 1918, Belleau itself was captured not by the Marine Brigade, but by the 26th Division some three weeks later, by which time the Marines were fighting & dying at Soissons. How and when the "bulldog fountain" actually entered into the mythology of the Corps remains something of a mystery."
SgtMaj Jiggs after
a Hard Day in the Limelight
Information derived primarily from the monograph BRIEF REFERENCE ~ MASCOTS IN THE MARINE CORPS, by Nicky McLain, Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., 1964. Thanks to GySgt D.A. Red Millis II, USMC Ret., Curator, Marine Corps Legacy Museum.
My Site is dedicated to My Granfathers Brother U.S. Army SGT James M. Mattox of Bourbon County Paris, Ky 35713015 KIA at the age of 21 in France in WWII
Sgt. James Mattox
Name: James M Mattox
Cemetery Name: Any private cemetery in Kentucky
Disposition: According to next of kin
Service Branch: Army
Service Number: 35713015
Ancestry.com. U.S. Rosters of World War II Dead, 1939-1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: United States. Army. Quartermaster General’s Office. Rosters of World War II Dead (all services). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army.
The tombstone for Sgt. James M. Mattox, Date of Birth-Sept. 16. 1921stated: 12th Armored Div., US Army Killed in Action in France, Dec. 10, 1944.
He is not dead. He is just away.
The Paris Daily Enperprise, Tuesday,December 19, 1944, Front Page
Sgt. James Mattox Killed in Action In France
Mrs. Amy B. Mattox of Paris, Route 4, received word from the War Department that her son was killed on Dec. 10th in France and said a letter as follows:
Sgt. Mattox entered the armed forces on Dec. 16, 1942 and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Mattox, who lived at the Tarr Station, on Paris -Millersburg Road.
Mr. and Mrs. Mattox have the sympathy of the community in the loss of their fine son.
More awesome BullDog History and Culture from #OldBullDoggy.com to come your way soon :)