Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac


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As the school was always in financial trouble, it conducted a brick making business to make the extra money needed to put food on the boarding school table. Within a year of his arrival at Notre Dame William committed himself to the religious life.

Memoirs of Chaplain Life

He entered the novitiate in and took final vows three years later. Corby's steady progress at Notre Dame was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War in the spring of The war would throw Notre Dame and the country into a period of turmoil and uncertainty and turn Father William Corby's life in a new direction.

The Roman Catholic Church took no official stand on the war. Seeing itself as the church of persecuted outsiders in Protestant America, the Church found itself in a "no win" situation: If it chose a side in the conflict, it would be branded as a traitor by the other side; if it remained neutral, it would be attacked as disloyal by both sides. At Notre Dame, both faculty and students were prohibited from discussions favoring either the Union or Confederate side.

Father Edward Sorin , founder of Notre Dame in , sympathized with the North but was able to maintain a neutral stance on campus, with the result that many Southerners continued to attend Notre Dame along side northern sympathizers, including the children of William Tecumsah Sherman. Father Sorin did send seven C. The Irish Brigade was constituted primarily of Irish Catholic soldiers.

Corby resigned his professorship at Notre Dame, and, with a song on his lips, boarded the train from Chicago:. I'll hang my harp on a willow tree. I'll off to the wars again. A peaceful home has no charm for me. The battlefield no pain. For nearly three years, Father Corby ministered to the needs of Catholic soldiers in the Army of the Potomac.

The editor of Corby's memoirs, L. Kohl, says about Corby, "Chaplains, like officers, won the common soldiers' respect with their bravery under fire. Father Corby's willingness to share the hardships of the men with a light-hearted attitude and his calm heroism in bringing spiritual and physical comfort to men in the thick of the fighting won him the esteem and the friendship of the men he served.

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Frequently under fire, Corby moved among casualties on the field, giving assistance to the wounded and absolution to the dying. For days after the battles, he inhabited the field hospitals to bring comfort to men in pain. Nearly two years of war had reduced its numbers from to combat ready troops.


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The Union forces had suffered severe losses in the early battles at Gettysburg. Before the Brigade engaged the Confederate soldiers at a wheat field just south of Gettysburg, Father William Corby, in a singular event that lives in the history of the Civil War, addressed the troops. Placing his purple stole around his neck, Corby climbed atop a large boulder and offered absolution to the entire unit, a ceremony never before performed in America.

Kohl, editor of Corby's memoirs, tells us that Father Corby sternly reminded the soldiers of their duties, warning that the Church would deny Christian burial to any who wavered and did not uphold the flag. The members of the Brigade were admonished to confess their sins in the correct manner at their earliest opportunity.

Those who witnessed this event would never forget it, for at a crisis point for the young nation, Father Corby had married the Catholic faith and American patriotism. Over the years, this event would become the subject of poems, sculptures and an impressive painting, "Absolution Under Fire" by Paul Henry Woods.

With their sins forgiven, the Irish Brigade plunged into battle and were met with withering fire from the Confederate soldiers.


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  8. At the end of the day, of the men whom Father Corby had blessed had been killed. On October 29, , a bronze statue of William Corby, C. First published in and recently reprinted. Captain Conyngham served with the Irish Brigade and acted as the brigade historian. Appendix includes short biographies of the officers of the brigade staff and regiments.

    Xlibris Corporation, Philadelphia, , pp in 2 volumes. An exhaustive study, lots of information on the private soldiers who served with the regiment. Vol 1 covers the period from the regiment's being organized through 2 July at Gettysburg, while Vol 2 takes the story from 3 July to muster out and beyond. Note: This is printed on-demand and is only available directly from the publisher.

    The story of the 69 th , 71 st , 72 nd and th Pennsylvania Infantry regiments, which were raised in and around Philadelphia, and many of whose recruits were Irish, especially those of the 69 th. Luce, Inc. Recently reprinted.


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    6. This is a light account, with a lot of focus on General Meagher. Jones is enthusiastic about his subject, sometimes maybe a bit too much so, but it's a fun read with lots of human interest stories included.

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      Unfortunately, nothing is cited nor is there a bibliography. Not really much use for genealogical purposes, but a good starting point for family history stories. This booklet is a remarkable study on the flags used by the Sixty-third and, by extension, the other New York regiments in Meagher's Irish Brigade. Note: This title does not appear to have been put into distribution. New copies are available from the publisher. Reprint of edition by Fordham Univ. Includes introduction by Christian G. A outstanding study of Boston's Irish Ninth by one of its surviving members. Complete roster with individual service summaries in the appendix.

      This is an earlier work on the 9 th Massachusetts written by D. Macnamara's brother Michael, who also served in the 9 th.

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      Less scholarly than David's later effort as many records were not available at the time it was written, but more anecdotal. Summary history of Meagher's Brigade in softcover. While not in-depth, it is very well written and lavishly illustrated. Includes lists of general officers of Irish birth both North and South and Irish-born recipients of the Medal of Honor. First Person Accounts:. Mainly a series of articles by "Mickey, of Co. K" for the Milwaukee Telegraph, Sullivan wrote his recollections beginning in His diary covers the period 25 Feb to 3 Jun Info on other members of the Company is included in the Appendix.

      William, C.

      Gettysburg Inspiration or Union Patriot Priest

      First published in by Notre Dame University. Corby served as chaplain to the 88 th New York Infantry. He is best remembered for the general absolution he gave at Gettysburg. Joseph T. Durkin, S. Born in Richmond to Irish immigrant parents, Dooley enlisted as a private in the 1 st Virginia Infantry and rose to become Captain before being wounded and captured at Gettysburg. His very well-written journal covers the period from August to May Galwey was only 15 when he enlisted as a private in the 8 th Ohio Infantry.

      By muster out, he was a 1 st Lieutenant and had been breveted Captain. Interspersed through the text are maps he had done himself. Included is a "what happened after the war" reminiscence by the author's son. After the war, Gildea's commander requested several of his officers to provide input material for a proposed unit history of the 1 st Ohio Light Artillery.

      Memoirs of Chaplain Life; Three Years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac

      Gildea sent him several letters, probably better described as essays, giving his own story. Although pretty rough, not exactly meant to be published as-is, this is still a very good account. These are Col. Guiney's wartime letters, sent home to his wife and daughter. Guiney rose to command of the 9 th MA, a predominately Irish regiment, which served in the Army of the Potomac. Although not assigned to Meagher's Irish Brigade, he had a close relationship with Gen.

      He was one of the few Irish to actively support the policies of the Lincoln Administration, including emancipation. He survived the war, though severely wounded in the face shortly before the 9 th mustered out of service. Samito does an excellent job placing the letters in context and fleshing out Guiney's story.

      This is a very lively, well written account by an enlisted man of his military career. McCarter was detailed to Gen.

      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac
      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac
      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac
      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac
      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac
      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac
      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac
      Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac Memoirs of chaplain life: three years with the Irish Brigade in the Army of the Potomac

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