One Irishwoman and her Umbrella at White Oak Swamp, 30th June 1862

Brian K. Burton’s book Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles makes reference to an account of a fascinating incident that occurred at White Oak Swamp Bridge on 30th June 1862, part of the Peninsula Campaign. The Irish Brigade were positioned here as part of the Union rearguard during the Federal retreat/change of base to the James River. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was tasked with applying pressure to the Union positions at this location, and the fighting principally manifested itself in the form of an intense artillery duel. William Watt Hart Davis of the 104th Pennsylvania Regiment was also present as the shells began to fall, and he witnessed an extraordinary sight as the Irish Brigade endured the barrage:

An Irish camp woman, belonging to a New York regiment, made herself quite conspicuous during the action. She remained close to the side of her husband, and refused to retire to a place of security. She was full of pluck. Occasionally she would notice some fellow sneaking to the rear, when she would run after him, seize him by the nape of his neck and place him in the ranks again, calling him a “dirty, cowardly spalpeen,” and other choice epithets. The flying shells had no terrors for her. During the hottest of the cannonade, this courageous woman walked fearlessly about among the troops, encouraging them to stand up to their work. Her only weapon, offensive or defensive, was a large umbrella she carried under her arm. In one instance she shamed a commissioned officer into returning to his duty. She belonged to the Irish Brigade, and her stout person, full, red face and broad language betrayed her undoubted origin. 

As seen in a previous post, the Irish Brigade women certainly seem to have been formidable characters! (1)

(1) Burton 2001: 254, Davis 1866: 123;

References

Burton, Brian K. 2001. Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles

Davis, William Watt Hart. 1866. History of the 104th Pennsylvania Regiment

About these ads

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Civil War Women, Irish Brigade

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

Follow Irish in the American Civil War

Follow Irish in the American Civil War via Social Media

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bridget Diver: Custer’s Female Wolverine | Irish in the American Civil War - August 16, 2012

    [...] suggest at least some took an active part in the 1862 campaigns (see for example previous posts here and here). ‘Michigan Bridget’, Bridget Diver, as she was portrayed in post war [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,775 other followers

%d bloggers like this: