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Old December 29, 2004, 08:36 PM   #38
4V50 Gary
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Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 16,222
The Army of the Potomac v. Sherman's Army - An Irish Tale

Never did two armies of the same nation stood in greater contrast to one another. After Lee and Johnston signed an armistice, both of these armies went to Washington where they marched in review of the applauding nation - but on different days.

As it is between different units, jealously ran between the two armies. In the review the Army of the Potomac marched as splendidly as any other European Army. Some had white gloves and their candence was spectacular. Sherman's army on the other hand...

"One would have supposed... that they were making their renowned march through Georgia, insteading of marching in review through the streets of Washington. Such an appearance as they made! There were evidently no attempts made to keep their lines closed up and well-dressed as they advanced, but each man marched to suit his own convenience. Their uniforms were a cross between regulation blue and the Southern gray. The men were sunburned, while their hair and beards were uncut and uncombed; they were clad in blue, gray, black and brown; huge slouch hats, black and gray, adorned their heads; their boots were covered with the mud they had brought up from Georgia; their guns were of all designs, from the Springfield rifle to a cavalry carbine, which each man carried as he pleased, whether it was at 'a shoulder,' 'a trail,' or a 'right shoulder shift'; and thus ragged, dirty and independently demoralized, that great army, whose wonderful campaigns had astonished the world, swept along the streets of the capital, whose honor they had so bravely defended. The great chieftain, Sherman, rode at its head, tall, spare, bronzed; grimly as he rode, in a plain uniform, as if utterly indifferent to all the honors a grateful country was pouring upon its honored son. The men chatted, laughed and cheered, just as they pleased, all along the route of their march. Our men enjoyed this all very much, and many of them muttered, 'Sherman is the man after all.'"

Rivalries arose between the two armies. Sherman's men felt that the Army of the Potomac knew all about reviews and parades but nothing of campaigns and great battles. For its part, the Army of the Potomac felt that Sherman's men would not have had such an easy time if they had fought Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia instead of the unorganized "bushwhackers" during their march to the sea.

One day, some of Sherman's men tangled with the Army of the Potomac's Irish Brigade. So, here's our rambling anecdote:

"Sherman's men entered the encampment of this old brigade, and with their usual coolness and audacity, began to stir things up. The brave Irishmen were perfectly at home in that kind of work, and a fierce struggle was soon raging. It was a square stand-up and knock-down affair, with the success all upon the side of the Irishmen. For once the gallant men from the Southwest had found their match; for a time they fought desperately, but were at last obliged to retreat to their own camp, with bloody faces and in wild disorder, while the wild cheers of the victors would have done credit to 'Donnybrook Fair.' From that time Sherman's men had more respect for the Army of the Potomac, so that when any of them came to our regiment, and began to boast in an offensive manner of their prowess, we had only to ask them if they had ever heard of the old Irish Brigade, and Sherman stock would depreciate a hundred per cent at the bare mention of that name."

Them Fighting Irish fight.
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