A LETTER FROM AMERICA
The Waterford News and General Advertiser 14th February 1862
The following letter has been received from an Irish Catholic priest, at present in America, by his parents in this county. It is full of interest on the present state and future prospects of the contending parties in that torn land, and refers to the contingency of a war with England at no distant day. It will be read with interest:–
nCathedral, Cincinnati, Jan 14, 1862.
MY DEAR PARENTS– I have frequently been on the point of commencing to write, but something has always interfered to prevent it. Now, however, when the “Christmas holidays” are over– it is a great mistake to call these days “holidays,” for they are to us days of continual toil and fatigue– I can breathe freely, and have time to think of something to say. I presume, the subject of the greatest interest to you is to hear something of the war which is now raging in this country. Well, there is little to be said on the subject. Our government has three immense batteries in the field. The first, the principal army, consists of from two to three hundred thousand men and is stationed around Washington, the capital city of the whole country; it is under the immediate command of the general-in-chief of the whole United States army. Washington is about one thousand miles from here. That army is opposed by nearly an equal number of rebel soldiers– I call them “rebels,” because they are such in the true sense of the word, and are engaged in an unjust and an unholy war. The rebel army is not more than ten miles distant from our army, separated only by the Potomac river; they have both been in the same position for the last five or six months. The cause of this long delay on the part of our government is, I presume, in order to gain time to discipline her soldiers and to prepare them for battle, and to await the organisation of the other two grand divisions of the army. These two division are now almost prepared, and before a month from this date you may expect to hear exciting news of great battles fought on this continent. One of these is composed of nearly one hundred thousand men, and is stationed about one hundred and fifty miles from here, at a place called Louisville, the largest city of our neighbouring State of Kentucky. The third division of our army is still farther South, at a place called Cairo, a town situated on the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers; the number of soldiers composing that division is about one hundred and fifty thousand. These two last named division of our army are each opposed by nearly an equal number of rebel soldiers. The world has never seen anything like the gigantic military preparations now going onwards in this country. One year ago there were not seven thousand soldiers to be found on the whole continent; now there are more than a million of men in arms, fighting against each other. Our army is entirely composed of men who have voluntarily enlisted to fight for their country, while the rebel army is made up, in a great part, of men who have been forced into the service. Our government will ultimately conquer the rebels; there can be no possible doubt about that. Our soldiers are better drilled, better armed, and better provided for, and they are better men. They are better men, because the army of the United States is composed, in great part– I do not say exclusively, but in great part, perhaps more than one half– of Irish and German soldiers, or their immediate descendants; and the Irish soldier, when engaged in a good cause, is the best in the world. There are Irish soldiers in the rebel army also, but many of them are there against their will. They have been forced into it from a fear of being put to death, as has been done in many instances; not so much, however, to the Irish as to the natives of the country who have remained faithful to the union, although in a rebel country, and have therefore refused to fight against it.
I repeated, therefore, right and justice, which are on the side of the Union, will ultimately conquer: but whether the whole country will be reunited as it was before the war commenced, is another question. I sincerely hope it may, but I fear it will not. The end will be, that after our government has conquered the so-called Southern Confederacy, she will then allow them to separate peaceably, if they still desire to do so, and form an independent government. This may sound strange, but nevertheless, it is natural. She cannot keep them in subjection against their will, except by force of arms, and our government is not like the government of England, a tyrannical one. She will not have a forced submission to her authority. The public sentiment of the people of this country would not tolerate it, and with us it is the voice of the people which makes the government. So much for the war in our own country; a word now qith regard to the war with England. England wants to go to war with the United States now; the United States are not prepared for a war with England at present. England wants to go to war with us now, because she has long been jealous of the rising greatness of this country, because she looks upon this country as her great rival in the ocean– because this is the only country which has of late years dared to dispute England’s supremacy on the ocean– because she now finds this country engaged in a war at home which requires all her attention, and all her men and money– and finally, because she wishes to revenge herself for the two unsuccessful wars which England has waged against this country, viz., the revolutionary war and the war of 1812, in both of which England was defeated by the United States. England never forgets a defeat she has received, and is always seeking an opportunity to revenge it. She looks upon the war now carried on in this country as her opportunity, and she is doing everything in her power to seek a quarrel with this country, and I don’t think she will have much difficulty in finding one. The late difficulty is settled. This government was wrong, or rather I should say, the officer of this government who acted without the authority of the government was wrong; he acted against the principle for which this government and every government in Europe has been always contending, namely, the principle of the inviolability of all neutral vessels on the high seas. The United States have always insisted on that principle. In the year 1812, she went to war with and defeated England, who insisted on her right, as “mistress of the sea,” to search all neutral vessels she met with on the ocean, and now the United States is, herself, the first to violate that principle for which she has so long contended. She overhauls an English vessel, searches her, and takes from on board that vessel the two agents of the rebel States. She has nobly acknowledged the error, and restored the men to the British. That one fact shows the spirit of this country; there is not another nation in the work which would dare to interfere with a British vessel. That difficulty is settled, but the excitement which it created in this country is astonishing. The feeling of hatred and animosity towards the British government, by reason of the ill will which that government and people displayed towards us in the settlement of that dispute, will never be appeased. Every American citizen feels that English blood must be shed to satisfy the insults which England has heaped upon them. England wants a war, and she will have it. When that war comes the United States will make peace with the rebels, and she will be more than a match for England.– Yours, W.J. HALLY.