Cadaver Dogs Sniff Out Likely Revolutionary War Burial Ground


For nearly 240 years, fallen soldiers from the Battle of Kettle Creek lay in unmarked graves. The trained noses of so-called “cadaver dogs” helped tentatively locate them, and preserve the site. (Fox News)

Put the Battle of Kettle Creek in perspective with today’s MapMaker Interactive map of key Revolutionary War battle sites in Georgia, and put the entire “Southern Strategy” in perspective with a larger map of the war.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit, including today’s simple MapMaker Interactive map.

Most cadaver dogs are Labrador retrievers or German shepherds, but the breed of dog is usually less important than qualities such as a good hunt drive, strong nerves, and confidence. Here, golden retriever Rudy searches for clues on a training exercise at Camp Victory, Iraq.
Photograph by Staff Sgt. Daniel Yarnall, U.S. Army. Public domain


Why do you think most key Georgia battles took place around rivers and ports?

Discussion Ideas

  • The Fox News story explains how amateur historians used cadaver dogs to help identify possible burial sites for Patriot and Loyalist forces killed at the Battle of Kettle Creek, Georgia. What are cadaver dogs? Skim this terrific Guardian article for some help.
    • Cadaver dogs are dogs that have been specially trained to identify human remains. In fact, they’re also known as human remains detection (HRD) dogs.
    • Cadaver dogs differ from their sister service animals, search-and-rescue dogs, in that they have been trained to ignore scents from living animals, and only identify corpses (cadavers) and human remains. In addition to body parts, cadaver dogs “can also detect residue scents, meaning they can tell if a body has been in a place, even if it’s not there any more.”


  • Who were the Patriots and Loyalists?
    • Patriots were colonists who rebelled against the British during the Revolutionary War. Patriots were also known as Continentals, Rebels, and Revolutionaries. Patriots, led by General George Washington, won the Revolutionary War and secured independence for the United States.
    • Loyalists were colonists who supported continued British rule during the Revolutionary War. Loyalists were also known as Tories.


  • What happened at the Battle of Kettle Creek? Skim this article from the National Register of Historic Places for some help.
    • We often think of the Revolutionary War as a New England conflict. It was not. The Battle of Kettle Creek was a key victory for Southern Patriots during the Revolutionary War.
      • Acting on what turned out to be faulty information, Loyalist leaders marched from British-held Savannah and Augusta to rendezvous with allies on the banks of Kettle Creek, to the northwest. Loyalist sympathizers were not at Kettle Creek, but revolutionary Patriots were. A force of about 400 Patriots defeated a Loyalist force more than twice that size.
      • “The importance of the battle showed the determination of the Southern Patriots and was a reminder to the Loyalist forces that they were not safe in the open country, away from the British bases and army.”


  • Alerted by hints from the cadaver dogs, archaeologists investigated land around the Kettle Creek Battlefield historic site. How did they analyze the area?




Fox News: Dogs’ discovery of Revolutionary War graves leads to preservation victory

Nat Geo: Major Revolutionary War Sites in Georgia map

Nat Geo: Revolutionary War Battles map

Guardian: Cadaver dogs: attending camp with the canines trained to smell death

NPS: Kettle Creek Battlefield

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