Brigadier General Meagher

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Kyle Kalasnik

Private
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Location
Potter County, PA
I read somewhere & seen on the History Channel that Meagher was drunk at Antietam ..

But I cant recall the source or the show title ..

Any Ideas?
I have heard and read that as well. Was it mentioned on Civil War Combat: The Bloody Lane at Antietam? I don’t recall if it was or not. Great series too.

Respectfully,
Kyle Kalasnik
 
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FedericoFCavada

Sergeant
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Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Reading about Antietam sure makes me pull heavily at the whiskey bottle ...
💉🤮😢

Timothy Egan, The Immortal Irishman (AMH, 2016), p. 222 purports that "Meagher had slept on the ground, and his face looked puffy." p. 225: "Meagher tossed off his hat and tried to finish the battle. Just then, his horse took a blast in the head, reared p in panic, a blood pattern sprayed on its white mane. Meagher was thrown to the ground--the fourth Union general to go down. Concussed by his fall, he couldn't tell up from down, light from dark. Two soldiers dragged him back among other wounded in the haystacks. The forage was not much of a refuge: soon the stacks caught fire in the rain of explosives, burning men alive." p. 228, two months after the battle, "[Private Wm. McCarter, 116th PA Inf.] as he confided to his diary, worshiped the Irishman who could speak at least five languages, recite an epic poem without missing a line, make roll call seem like an ode. 'He had a voice that sounded like a lion,' he wrote in one of his perfectly penned sentences, as if the words were standing at inspection. But now: who was this stumbling soul leaning against his tent pole? ... Meagher grunted, slurred something that sounded like nothing. The general reeked of whiskey, which he called 'a smile,' as in 'Let's have a smile before dinner.' Soldiers used a dozen other terms for the infantry's only real diversion--busthead, knock-'em-stiff, dead shot among them. In the worst year for the Army of the Potomac, liquor was medicinal and ubiquitous, for officers and infantry-men, Irish and native-born. The best general of the North, Ulysses S. Grant, was widely viewed as a drunk. He'd been forced to resign in 1854, his reputation in ruins. He got his second chance after volunteering in 1861, though his reliance on heavy drink had not diminished. ... And hearing yet again that Grant was overly fond of whiskey, the president asked what brand, and wondered if he should send a keg to each of his other commanders. But even with all the high-octane spirits flowing through the depressed ranks of the Union Army, no one in the brigade had seen Thomas Francis Meagher like this--a standing man, blank-faced; the great conversationalist, mute; the wit of Bull Sumners' corps, staggered. 'He was very drunk,' McCarter wrote on November 13, 1862, 'and looked strangely wild.' "
 

scone

2nd Lieutenant
Reading about Antietam sure makes me pull heavily at the whiskey bottle ...
💉🤮😢

Timothy Egan, The Immortal Irishman (AMH, 2016), p. 222 purports that "Meagher had slept on the ground, and his face looked puffy." p. 225: "Meagher tossed off his hat and tried to finish the battle. Just then, his horse took a blast in the head, reared p in panic, a blood pattern sprayed on its white mane. Meagher was thrown to the ground--the fourth Union general to go down. Concussed by his fall, he couldn't tell up from down, light from dark. Two soldiers dragged him back among other wounded in the haystacks. The forage was not much of a refuge: soon the stacks caught fire in the rain of explosives, burning men alive." p. 228, two months after the battle, "[Private Wm. McCarter, 116th PA Inf.] as he confided to his diary, worshiped the Irishman who could speak at least five languages, recite an epic poem without missing a line, make roll call seem like an ode. 'He had a voice that sounded like a lion,' he wrote in one of his perfectly penned sentences, as if the words were standing at inspection. But now: who was this stumbling soul leaning against his tent pole? ... Meagher grunted, slurred something that sounded like nothing. The general reeked of whiskey, which he called 'a smile,' as in 'Let's have a smile before dinner.' Soldiers used a dozen other terms for the infantry's only real diversion--busthead, knock-'em-stiff, dead shot among them. In the worst year for the Army of the Potomac, liquor was medicinal and ubiquitous, for officers and infantry-men, Irish and native-born. The best general of the North, Ulysses S. Grant, was widely viewed as a drunk. He'd been forced to resign in 1854, his reputation in ruins. He got his second chance after volunteering in 1861, though his reliance on heavy drink had not diminished. ... And hearing yet again that Grant was overly fond of whiskey, the president asked what brand, and wondered if he should send a keg to each of his other commanders. But even with all the high-octane spirits flowing through the depressed ranks of the Union Army, no one in the brigade had seen Thomas Francis Meagher like this--a standing man, blank-faced; the great conversationalist, mute; the wit of Bull Sumners' corps, staggered. 'He was very drunk,' McCarter wrote on November 13, 1862, 'and looked strangely wild.' "
Thank you
 
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James N.

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… two months after the battle, "[Private Wm. McCarter, 116th PA Inf.] as he confided to his diary, worshiped the Irishman who could speak at least five languages, recite an epic poem without missing a line, make roll call seem like an ode. 'He had a voice that sounded like a lion,' he wrote in one of his perfectly penned sentences, as if the words were standing at inspection. But now: who was this stumbling soul leaning against his tent pole? ... Meagher grunted, slurred something that sounded like nothing. The general reeked of whiskey, which he called 'a smile,' as in 'Let's have a smile before dinner.'.. But even with all the high-octane spirits flowing through the depressed ranks of the Union Army, no one in the brigade had seen Thomas Francis Meagher like this--a standing man, blank-faced; the great conversationalist, mute; the wit of Bull Sumners' corps, staggered. 'He was very drunk,' McCarter wrote on November 13, 1862, 'and looked strangely wild.' "
Although this is what McCarter wrote about seeing Meagher drunk in the camp on Bolivar Heights at Harper's Ferry - right before breaking his fall downhill into a waiting fire-pit! - in all fairness to the General, you should also mention that McCarter repeatedly states that it was the only time he ever saw his commander in that condition, and that he worked closely with him daily only a short time later as a headquarters clerk.
 

Cavalier

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
Not sure how much credibility this story has. I believe two officers in another brigade, (Lt. Thomas Livermore and Col. Cross?), are the source for this. There maybe others however that I am not aware of.

Even though Cross says something like " Meagher was drunk as usual", if he was drunk on this occasion it seems to me it must not have been a regular thing as I believe his boss, "Greasy Dick" Richardson, was something of a "hard a-- " and would not have tolerated it if Meagher's drinking interfered with his duty.

If I remember correctly Richardson charged a superior, Col. Dixon S. Miles, with being intoxicated on duty at one time in his career.

I believe that Cross and Livermore were both New Englanders, where there was no love for Irish Catholics at that time.

It is my impression that Richardson was no "tea tottler" himself.

There was also rumor that Meagher was murdered.

These are just my immediate thoughts on the subject.
 
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scone

2nd Lieutenant
Not sure how much credibility this story has. I believe two officers in another brigade, (Lt. Thomas Livermore and Col. Cross?), are the source for this. There maybe others however that I am not aware of.

Even though Cross says something like " Meagher was drunk as usual", if he was drunk on this occasion it seems to me it must not have been a regular thing as I believe his boss, "Greasy Dick" Richardson, was something of a "hard a-- " and would not have tolerated it if Meagher's drinking interfered with his duty.

If I remember correctly Richardson charged a superior, Col. Dixon S. Miles, with being intoxicated on duty at one time in his career.

I believe that Cross and Livermore were both New Englanders, where there was no love for Irish Catholics at that time.

It is my impression that Richardson was no "tea tottler" himself.

There was also rumor that Meagher was murdered.

These are just my immediate thoughts on the subject.

LT. Col Thomas Leonard Livermore was born in Galena, Illinois and grew up in Milford, New Hampshire &
Col. Edward E. Cross (1832-1863) was born on April 22, 1832 in Lancaster, Coos County, New Hampshire. At the age of fifteen, Cross began working as a printer for the Coos Democrat. In 1850, he left New Hampshire, eventually settling in Cincinnati, Ohio where he worked at the Cincinnati Times first as a printer and later as a reporter. In 1857, after a stint as their Washington correspondent, he left the paper in order to move further west.

Cross later settled in Arizona, where he invested in local mining interests, wrote dispatches for the Cincinnati Times, and began the territory’s first newspaper, the Weekly Arizonian. In addition to his writing and mining interests, Cross joined U.S. Army scouts in their efforts against the Apaches. In 1860, he crossed the border into Mexico to command a Sonoran army garrison supporting the insurgency of Benito Juarez..

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Cross returned to New Hampshire where he accepted a commission as colonel of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment. He was mustered into service on August 27, 1861 and began training recruits at Camp Jackson, outside Concord, NH.

Regardless they where both in the 5th New Hampshire.. and came in behind the Irish Brigade on the sunken road . I don't know of any dislike from them for the Irish but will look into ..


I saw that some say he was murdered political reasons but who knows

Thanks for the reply
 

Cavalier

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
@ scone. It seems Cross got around. Some of these guys had really interesting lives, even though they may have been short ones.

I have no information that Livermore or Cross were bias against the Irish themselves but it has been my impression that the old time Yankees were generally not well disposed towards them.

I seem to remember that the Irish Brigade was involved in a friendly fire incident with the 5th N. H. In the Peninsula however not trying to make any connection between that and Corss's remarks. And of course any information depending on my memory is on very shaky ground!

I Thank you also.

John
 
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