Poetslife

6/01/2015

Fredericksburg, VA, Irish Brigade Cuchulain-like Valor, Mt. Vernon

Went to Fredericksburg, VA to see the sunken road and Marye's Heights where the Northern Irish Brigade was cut to ribbons by Colonel Robert McMillian's 24th Georgia Infantry, a Confederate, mostly Irish, group of Southern soldiers. 
Of the approximately 1,400 Irish Brigade soldiers who went wave after wave at the Heights, 545 became casualties. The 69th of New York lost 16 of 16 officers. 
I had just finished reading Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personnal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander, as edited by Gary W. Gallagher. Stunning.
Chapter 8. The Battle of Fredericksbug, gives a chilling account of that battle and the slaughter of the Irish Brigade from the Southern perspective. 
As my wife finally got to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, a trip to Fredericksburg for a weekend of R&R. The mansions are beautiful. The food was remarkable. The craft beers are plentiful.
Both the Union Cemetery and the Confederate Cemetery are HUGE. And in both, the largest number of graves have no name to mark the passing of the soul buried there.
Seeing the Fredericksburg Battlefield and the Sunken Road and better understanding the raw courage of the Irish who charged that heavily defended wall was unreal. But discovering the beauty of Fredericksburg and Mt. Vernon was an extra wonder. I had bicycled to Mt. Vernon 38 years before. It has changed dramatically for the better since that time.
 I had just finished reading Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier by Joseph Plumb Martin and wanted to visit his Commander in Chief so we stopped off at Mt. Vernon.
Martin's eight year story of battles and his own battles with starvation the entire time makes me realize just how remarkable the men were who created this Republic.
In one story, Private Martin was loading explosives under the British lines at Yorktown when a man called "The Stranger"approached dressed plainly and asking them to not reveal anything if the British captured them. 
Suddenly, a bunch of officers were calling "The Stranger" "Your Excellency." 
Yes, it was George Washington wandering among the troops on the front lines. 
If only we had a Commander-in-Chief who fought in war with such courage, wisdom, strategic brilliance and love of the American people and the American land today.
So, enjoy the photos of Mt. Vernon, that national treasure, at the end.