Commanding Boston's Irish Ninth: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Patrick R. Guiney, Ninth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick R. Guiney; Christian G. Samito | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE: THE GOOD KNIGHT OF BOSTON

Guiney, his health shattered, preceded the Ninth Massachusetts home. Jennie met him in Washington and brought him back to Roxbury. Young Louise felt taken aback at his condition and appearance, and later recalled of the homecoming,

It was my earliest glimpse of the painful side of the war, when he stood worn, pale, drooping, waiting recognition with a weary smile, at the door of the sunny little house we all loved. Instantly, heedless of any persuasive arms or voices, I slipped headlong, like: a startled seal from the rocks, and disappeared under the table. Such was my common mode of receiving strangers; and here, indeed, was a most bewildering and appalling stranger. In vain my soldier called me by the most endearing names; even the whimsical nomenclature of camp-life failed to convince me that this was no imposition. I shut my disbelieving eyes, and crouched on the carpet. For two long hours I did not capitulate, and then but warily. What was this spectre with whom I must not perch, whose head, bound in bandages, I must not handle? What was he, in place of my old-time comrade, blithe and boyish . . . ?1

Meanwhile, after three years of service, the Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers returned home as well. On June 10 the men packed their gear and Brigadier General Griffin and Colonel Sweitzer, with division and brigade flags fluttering behind them, addressed and took leave of the Irishmen. Men of the division then crowded around to bid farewell to acquaintances and friends who had fought by their side on many a battlefield. Cheers filled the air for President Lincoln, Lieutenant General Grant, Major General Meade, Brigadier General Griffin, Colonel Sweitzer, the Ninth Massachusetts, the Army of the Potomac, the Union, the Red Cross, and the V Corps. And then, excited at going home and

____________________
1
Louise I. Guiney, "A Child in Camp,"125-26. Cullen, The Story of the Irish in Boston, p. 248.

-249-

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