Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day dates back more than 1,000 years, and Irish soldiers and emigrants brought that tradition with them to the British colonies in North America, and later to the USA.
During the Civil War in the United States, the soldiers joined in honoring Ireland’s patron saint, regardless of their religion. The northern sector still being in winter quarters, and little or no fighting going on, the day could become one of amusement and celebratory events, including horse racing (and no doubt “a plenty of Whiskey in camp”).
But the events didn’t always end in merriment, as evidenced by Oney F. Sweet’s diary entry for March 17, 1865, while stationed near Petersburg, Virginia:
St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrated a grand time. Horse racing. Two men killed and one Colonel by horses running over them.
Read more about the daily life of a Union soldier during the War of the Rebellion in the forthcoming book, What the Private Saw: The Civil War Letters and Diaries of Oney Foster Sweet. The book will be released on April 9, 2015, the 150th anniversary of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.
The previously unpublished letters and diaries offer a unique glimpse of the American Civil War from the bottom looking up; that is, from the view of a private simply trying to survive a deadly war in which one in five combatants perished.
This first-hand account of what the private saw will be a delightful and informative addition to the many existing volumes on the American Civil War.
For more information about and excerpts from the book, visit the website http://whattheprivatesaw.com . . .
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