Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Did ya ere wonder lads if Saint Patrick his self downed a few pints of bitters? Tis a grand day to be Irish lads, a grand day indeed! It's a day when I'll play Sinead O'Connor doing the best version of "Molly Malone" I've ever heard in my life, which is saying a lot for a song I've been listening to since early childhood. Follow this link to see if you don't agree. I'll be thinking of my second great-grandparents, James and Margaret (Trainor) Kelly, my great-grandmother Margaret (Kelly) Jordan, and my father David as I watch and listen, remembering that all loved the sweet sorrow that was and is the song.
And it's a day, too, to pay tribute to the Irish of the 18th Massachusetts.
They didn't bargain for a blue tunic or musket when they stepped aboard steamers and sailing ships for the promise of something better an ocean away. Micks they was, from County Cork, County Tipperary, County Tyrone, and County Meath. Papists they was, from County Kerry, County Donegal, County Kilkenny, and County Limerick. Potato eaters they was, from County Clare, County Roscommon, County Langford, and County Atrim. Sons of the Eirinn they was, from County Mayo, County Cavan, County Letrim, and County Fermanaugh. Poets, singers, drunkards, pugilists, dreamers they was, from County Queens, County Westmeath, County Sligo, County Wexford, County Waterford, and County Galway. From Dublin, from Belfast. Americans they became.
Martin Flinn was one of 170 Irish who enlisted in the 18th Massachusetts, one of 67 born in the aforementioned Counties who populated Company B, led by Captain George Ruby, a former Sergeant Major in the British Army. They carried and marched behind the National, State, and Regimental colors of their adopted home, Ireland an aching memory in their hearts and their minds, forever.
You can hear almost hear the brogue rolling off the tongue of this 21-year-old Cotton Spinner if you read aloud the letter he dictated to John McKenney of Company B. Flinn would be wounded in a patch of earth known as the Wheatfield on July 2, 1863, before meeting his end 11 months later during the Battle of Bethesda Church. The location of his grave is unknown and is most probably the manner in which he was buried. The same was true of Ruby, whose body was never recovered from Marye's Heights. Flinn, County Limerick and Co. B. Ruby, County Roscommon and Co. B. William Flanagan, County Westmeath and Co. B. Charles Galligan, Co. F. Michael O'Donnell, County Cavan and Co. B. Martin Cunningham, County Roscommon and Co. B. Timothy Denny, County Cork and Co. D. Michael Gill, County Roscommon and Co. B. Patrick Hearn, Co. I. Patrick Tierney, County Roscommon and Co. B. Thomas Donovan, Co. A. And Dennis Brady, County Cavan and Co. B. They died as free sons of Eirinn, as free sons of America.
Camp nere York Town
Eprile 16th 1862
My dear father, brother and sisters,
I take the favor or riting to youse in hope to find youse all in good health as this laves me at the present time thanks be to God for it and all his mersies to us all. My dear father I want to give you all the a count of our marching since the forth of Eprile. We left oute Fortryss Monro on the forth of this month and it take us too hard dayes marching to come here. On our way coming the rebels retret all the way be fore us on till we came to where we are now camped. The first after non that we came here there was a batile but the rebels retred in…in to their caves. There was some ten of our men kild and we don’t now how maney of the rebels. There is not but a day since but we came the rore of the canon the are firing bomshells at other every day. My dear father I…have herd of our men going to make a natack on York Town be fore this. I want to give you the reson that kepe them so long. York Town is the plase that Lord Cornwals had to sorender to Washington and where the Mericans gained their independence. York Town is souronded by water as fare as we can lern brestworks runs for over five miles or more each way all round. The cant get a chance to go a way for the are all souronded by our troops. If their men wants to com ren force them the cant for the are completely cut of. The must fight or give every man of them. Genal McCelen is getting large size guns every day and morters. He mains to make shure war of it. These guns will cary… miles. My dear father I want to give you the a count of the rebel army. It is stated to be of ver fivety thousand strong in this plase or perhaps more. Our armey is over 10000 hundred thousand strong. Sure the Seventh Mass Rig is here and Thomas Fransis Mahers brigade [Irish Brigade] is here. Our men is bilding brigies every day. The are wating to finish them and get all their sige guns be fore the begin the batle. My dear father with the help of God the next leter that I rit I will have good nuse to send to you. My dear father I am sorry that I have not got aney money to send to you. We have not got wone sent [one cent] since we got our pay last and some times…in need of some for we had a hard time of it wone in a while. My dear father rite as soon as you get this leter and let me how youse are. My dear father I have not much more to say at the present. I send my love to you, to my brother and sisters, to Mrs. Lynch and family. May God be with youse all.
Dirct to Porters Division, Fortrss Monro, 18th Rig, Co. B.
Dines Lynch is well and got a leter from Davit. He was in Fortess Monro and he had to march the Weseday so he coud not get to see him. He sends his love to his father, mother, brothers and sister and to youse all. Patrick Goff is going to rite home in a day or too. He sends his love to his wife and family and to youse all.