Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Damian Shiels, the owner of the excellent Irish in the American Civil War site, and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
SIXTY-NINTH REGT., N.Y.S.N.G.
HEADQUARTERS 69TH REGT., N.Y.S.N.G.,
FORT RICHMOND, Aug. 24, 1864.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE IRISH-AMERICAN:
Again has that regiment, whose blood has written indelibly upon the plains of Virginia the patriotism of Irishmen, bivouacked; but, this time, not upon the Potomac, where monuments of their zeal rise above the historic heights of Arlington, nor in the farther South where their brethren lie buried in their Celtic gore, from Antietam to Richmond, where monuments will, in future time, serve to remind the unconscious visitors of those battlefields of the undying devotion and fealty and valor of Catholic Irishmen. Yet, apparently, it will require some unusual mark of distinction to cause the slightest reminiscence of Irish patriotism to even flutter through the minds of those who had the audacity, not two weeks ago, to refuse the service of a Catholic Priest to one of this same body, who lay maimed and bleeding upon a soldier’s couch, almost within the limits of our own city; and when all that was immortal of that gallant soldier had left him, had still the hardihood to carry his remains to a place of sepulture, unsanctified by the blessings accorded to those belonging to his own grand old religion; and there, amid “prayers” in which in life he could not join, close his grave as a Protestant. Truly, Irishmen, this is an insult to you; an insult to your religion; an insult to that flag which saved the Republic of America upon many of its battle-fields; an insult to those soldiers of Corcoran, Meagher, Shields, Mulligan, Cass, Sheridan, Kilpatrick, and other glorious names that cannot but serve to illumine the pages of American history—and all this within sight and almost within hearing of three hundred thousand Irish Catholics; an insult which never can be erased but by the immediate inquiry of those in authority into the matter. Therefore, we call upon you. General Dix, and “all those whom it may concern,” to recognize this appeal. Give to us what we deserve—justice; justice, and nothing more.
The regiment in the silence of Staten Island have pitched their tents, and although many miles from scenes of strife or declared enemies, the strictest military discipline is put into execution, under the supervision of Cols. Bagley and Cavanagh. The latter, the same indomitable “Little Major” (as he was familiarly called in the Irish Brigade,) who carried about him, while in the heat of battle, all the pride and bearing of an Irish prince; he who, whenever the battle raged thickest, was to be found in the midst of his men, encouraging them to deeds of daring, is among us; and be assured that none who try to escape their duty through laziness, escapes the watchful eye of him who now commands the 69th—Col. Bagley being in command of the post, other and more important duties devolve upon him. Everything tending to enliven the ESPRIT DE CORPS of the regiment is carried into effect. It is now doing duty of almost every species. While the headquarters are within the fortification, companies of the regiment are to be seen doing garrison duty at Forts Hamilton and Lafayette, Willet’s Point, Blackwell’s Island, and even at City Point, where the majority of the companies of the regiment have severally done duty in conveying prisoners within the lines of our gallant army, where, under the supervision of our veteran officers of the Army of the Potomac, they are deprived of the exercise of their predominating qualities, which served for a time to fill their pockets, but will now serve to fill the ditches of Petersburg.
J. J. D.1
- “Sixty-Ninth Regt., N.Y.S.N.G.” Irish-American (NY). September 3, 1864, p. ? col. ? ↩