Sunday, November 19, 2006

PROFILES: General James Nagle (3)

Throughout the course of the American Civil War, James Nagle helped raise and commanded no less than four regiments of Pennsylvania volunteer soldiers, including the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. He also commanded three different brigades at various times throughout the conflict. His first command was of the Sixth Pennsylvania, a three-month unit that served in the Shenandoah Valley, under General Robert Patterson, from April until July 1861.
In October 1861, the officers and men of the Sixth Pennsylvania, many of whom then serving in different three-year organization, presented James Nagle with an ornate and beautifully inscribed field-glass, “as a Tribute of regard for his Gallantry and Patriotism.” Accompanying this gift was the following letter, penned by the former officers of the Sixth Pennsylvania:
Pottsville, October 8th, 1861.
Col. James Nagle,
Dear Sir:--A number of your friends, officers and privates of the late Sixth Regiment, P.V., commanded by you during the time it was in service, desire to present the accompanying field-glass, for your acceptance, in token of our high personal esteem, and the exalted opinion we entertain of your military knowledge and capacity.
Though your characteristic modesty may shrink from any public eulogy of your conduct and services, our gratitude and admiration will not permit us to pass them by, without this tribute of affection and respect.
For many years past the military spirit and organization of Schuylkill County have been chiefly sustained by your exertions. When the Nation’s honor was to be manifested on the plains of Mexico, you with a well disciplined corps under your command, sprang to arms and hastened to the field of conflict; in Cerro Gordo’s terrific fight you stood clam and unmoved amid the leaden storm of death which fell on every side, and by your presence of mind and courage saved many gallant men from the fearful carnage.
During the long season of peace which followed the closing of that war, in your own quiet and happy home, you faithfully discharged the duties of a husband, father and citizen, endearing yourself both to your family and the community in which you dwelt.
But now the tocsin of war sounds through the land, and her valiant sons are called to defend her against foul rebellion’s deadly blows. Speedily a regiment of your fellow citizens take the field, and confer upon you the command. During the three months we served together, though inflexibly firm and persistently industrious in the performance and requirement of every camp and field duty, yet such was the kindness of your demeanor, and your tender regard for the health, safety and comfort of your men, that we regarded you rather a friend and father, than a mere military commander.
And now, that you have, at the head of a Schuylkill County Regiment—Pennsylvania’s 48th—again taken the field at your country’s call, and may soon be in the thickest of the most eventful battle the world has ever witnessed, on the issue of which the destiny of human freedom and progress is suspended, we present you with the accompanying glass, as well in token of our esteem and admiration, as that your eye which never dimmed with fear as it gazed upon a foe, may more readily perceive his approach and prepare for victory.
Praying that the God of Battles may preserve you in the midst of danger, and return you unharmed to your family and friends, when our glorious Union shall be firmly re-established, and covered with still more illustrious renown,
We remain, yours truly,
Capt. C. Tower
Lt. Col. Jas. J. Seibert
Maj. John E. Wynkoop
Capt. H. J. Hendler
Lieut. Theo. Miller
Lieut. D.P. Brown
And many others.

In response to the gift, Colonel Nagle replied as follows:

Head-Quarters 48th Regt. P.V. Camp Hamilton
Near Fortress Monroe, October 11, 1861.

Gentlemen and Brother Officers, Soldiers and Friends:--Your favor of the 8th inst., came to hand yesterday with the beautiful field glass you saw proper to forward for presentation, to me. I can assure you it affords me much pleasure and satisfaction to receive and accept this tribute of affection and respect, coming from those whom I had the honor to command in the three months’ service. I always tried to discharge my duties faithfully, to the best of my ability, and am led to believe that you were all satisfied with my conduct. I therefore, accept the token of respect you send me, with feelings of gratitude and thankfulness, and hope I may be able to gain the confidence of the 48th to the extent you, gentlemen of the 6th, have expressed in your letter, and manifested in your beautiful present. It is a source of great pleasure and gratification to me to know that my services have been appreciated by the officers and soldiers of the Sixth Regiment. In conclusion, allow me again to return you my most sincere thanks for this valuable gift, praying with you, that the God of Battles may preserve us in the midst of danger, and return us unharmed to our families and friends, after our glorious Union shall have been firmly reestablished, and the Stars and Stripes shall again be floating proudly over the whole of our country.
I remain, Gentlemen, Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant,
James Nagle

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