THE WAR IN AMERICA
Cork Examiner 15th April 1863
The following letter was received some time since by a friend in Cork, from a soldier in the Northern service. The writer has been a soldier in the British service, had been in the Irish Brigade in Italy, and finally joined the American army:–
“Fort mcHenry, Baltimore, Feb 18th, 1863.
“DEAR ––––, I take pleasure in forwarding you the particulars of my campaigning life in this country. This being my fourth campaign I may speak from experience, and so speaking, I am of the opinion no other nation could produce an army so effective and so well equipped for a campaign, even though it last for a period of seven years, as the Federal army. Veterans of seven years’ campaigning could not equal those of the grand army of the Potomac, should Major-General G.B. McClellan command in person. I have had the honour to serve seven months in the Irish Brigade, from the fall of Yorktown to the great battle of Antietam. During that time General McClellan commanded the grand army of the Potomac, and I can say that never was an army so skilfully led and posted before and enemy as ours was, more especially in a country where manoeuvring and marching are rendered so difficult by swamps, woods, and rivers, which often make it nearly impassable for a large army. The Irish Brigade, commanded by General T.F. Meagher, well deserve their name and the future historian of the war will have many heroic deeds to record of them. Led by their gallant general, they have gone through every battle which has been fought in the peninsula of Virginia, with honour and victory, and have well sustained the fame their forefathers won upon the plains of Fontenoy. I am glad to hear that for once the correspondent of the London Times has done justice to the Brigade, in describing the battle of Fredericksburgh. But why are they deprived of equal justice for what they did at Fair Oaks, Union Spring, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, and Malvern Hill, and during the seven day’s fighting? At Fair Oaks they turned the tide of battle by a bayonet charge, breast to breast with the enemy, on the railroad, driving all before them in the utmost confusion. On the retreat from Richmond to City Point, a distance of twenty-five miles, they formed the rear guard, and stood the brunt of the whole of the enemy’s attacks. Jackson will remember for many years to come the reaction his attacking forces met with during that retreat. At the battle of Antietam the Irish Brigade specially distinguished itself. Seldom were more daring deeds done by any troops. The fight lasted from 4 p.m. on the 15th, when the first shot was fired by the rebel batteries on the right of the turnpike road leading to Sharpsburgh, until late in the evening of the 17th. At 3 p.m. on the 17th we were closely engaged, having charged the enemy’s line of battle close at the edge of a corn field, in rear of which lay, covered by the corn, four more lines of troops. The Brigade took possession of that position, which was deemed most impregnable, as the rebels lay in rifle-pits and on the bed of a rivulet, firing with buckshot and ball, and mowing the corn down as if it were cut with reaping hooks. Still our gallant General with his brigade swept over the field, and completely routed the enemy, capturing flags to the number of fifteen.– Your’s, very truly,
JEROME DEADY, Com. I.,
2nd Artillery, U.S. Army.