THE IRISH AT ANTIETAM
PART 3 of 6: WEDDED TO DEATH
The Irish American, October 18, 1862
EVERY succeeding battle only increases the courage, steadiness and endurance of the 88th, as of the other regiments of the Brigade, and the only sorrowful thought that intrudes itself is that when they have reached the highest point of perfection, when their wild cheer and unwavering front are seen advancing most grandly in line, their green banners waving amid the smoky air of battle, there will be, alas! very few remaining to receive their laurel crowns, or relate the labors of fallen comrades. Koerners after all is the true idea of the soldier's life. All his campaigning is courtship and the day of battle his Bridal day, when he is wedded to his mistress -- Death. The joyful is it, indeed, to him to if the glad light of victory shine upon his face, and if the opening echoes of a grand renown which shall traverse down to far and future ages break upon his falling sense.
The proud frenzy of the fight is upon him, friends and comrades entreat him to go to the rear and have his wound dressed. He does not hear or heed them.
The enemy fire still tells upon our ranks -- many a brave fellow goes down unnamed to his doom. Captain Clooney receives a bullet wound through the knee: the pain is torturing, terrible. The proud frenzy of the fight is upon him, friends and comrades entreat him to go to the rear and have his wound dressed. He does not hear or heed them. He seizes the colors and hobbles along on one leg, waving the green flag that he loves so well in front of the line. Almost more than most men he revels in the grandeur of a battle; the whirring of the bullets is music to his ears. In the position described, exulting in the triumph of the day, two musket balls strike him, one enters his brain, the other his heart and he falls dead.
So on the left of the regimental line, we have Egan struck down, at the center Clooney, and now on the right much time not intervening, Captain Joyce, one of the youngest, bravest, and most skillful officers of the Brigade is struck down, and dies without a groan.
Of the dead I shall speak anon. The living who seem to bear some talisman deserve mention for better men never drew sword nor strove for victory. Horgan, McCarten, Ryder, Young, O'Brien, Burke, Byron and others who escape without a scratch in a fight where over every third man falls. As for Colonel Kelly and Major Quinlan, they seem to be invincible -- bullets having no effect on them. In the 63rd, Lieutenant Colonel Fowler, Major Bentley, Captain Condon are wounded severely. Captain O'Neill's company on the right, annihilated. He comes to the left of the regiment where Lieutenant Colonel Fowler and Major Bentley are. "You must give me another command, not one of my company remains on duty." He has another command very soon. Lieutenant Colonel Fowler and Bentley are wounded and have to go to the rear. Captain O'Neill takes command of all that remains of the regiment.
The right wing is completely gone, and only a portion of the left is still standing -- the others have been either killed or wounded. Lieutenant Lynch is still standing and Lieutenant Moore, as cool and brave as if on parade, is all right. Captain Miller, the assistant Adjutant general of the Brigade, had had his horse shot from under him; Lieutenant Gossen's horse is also shot. Lieutenant Mackey is wounded severely in the thigh.
The right wing is completely gone, and only a portion of the left is still standing -- the others have been either killed or wounded.
Thus all the members of General Meagher's staff are HORS DE COMBAT. The General exposing himself everywhere has not received a touch. Shortly, thereafter, however, the horse is shot, (and) falls heavily upon the rider, who is taken up insensible from the effect of the pressure of the pommel of the saddle upon his chest and is carried to the rear. For two days, his extremities were paralyzed but the resources of a sound system, of a constitution capable of enduring almost any amount of fatigue, hardship and injury came to his aid, and the General is now at his post unharmed by the perils and dangers of the battle of Antietam.
About noon the Brigade is relieved by the Brigade of General Caldwell, which took up the position we had occupied and continued to hold it. Meagher's Brigade was called upon once more, and going to the front again, held the ground all throughout the night. General Richardson, who was severely wounded -- very much to the grief of the men, who admire his fighting qualifications -- particularly, personally thanked the Brigade, and especially remembered the 88th Regiment. ... (To be continued.)
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