Saturday, March 17, 2007

Captain James Nagle's Mexican-American War Diary

In 1840, eighteen-year-old James Nagle raised the Pottsville Blues, a militia company that two years later would become the Washington Artillerists. With the outbreak of war with Mexico in 1846, Nagle tendered the services of his company and in December it marched off to war as Company B, 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. As its captain, Nagle led his company during General Winfield Scott's campaign from the landing at Vera Cruz to the capture of Mexico City. In the Fall of 1848, Company B was mustered out of service and returned to Pottsville to a hero's welcome. Captain Nagle, pictured below, was presented with a beautfully inscribed sword from the citizens of Pottsville in recognition of his service. He carried this sword with him throughout the Civil War as Colonel of the 48th PA and as general of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps. This sword can be seen in the pictures of Nagle below, and is now held at the Historical Society of Schuylkill County. A few years ago, as can be seen by the picture below, I had the great honor of holding Nagle's sword.
Captain James Nagle, 1848
General James Nagle, 1862
Me, holding Nagle's Sword a number of years ago
(Forgive the Hair Style...)
A few months ago, while doing a google search for Nagle, I came upon his Mexican-American War Diary, digitized for all of us and available on-line through Brown University. Soldier diaries and letters from the Mexican-American War are somewhat rare, especially those composed by volunteer soldiers. In addition to providing day-by-day accounts of the travels, trials, and tribulations of Company B, 1st PA Volunteers, Nagle's Mexican War Diary also discloses some of his thoughts on the conflict and of Mexico. One entry describes Nagle's view of slavery. Traveling down the Mississippi River on his way to Vera Cruz via New Orleans, Nagle was exposed for the first time to slavery:
Sunday, [December] 27th, 1846
this morning we were again permitted to go on Shore whilst the boat was undergoing some repair & wooding[.] during our Stay we had an opportunity to witnessing Slavery and growing of sugar cane & cotton [.] the Planter owned about 80 slaves[.] perfect picture of Misery[.] this was in the Northern part of Louisiana[.] proceeded on
If you are interested in reading Nagle's Diary, click the link below:


ANagleGirl said...

I just want to thank you for posting this, my sister and I were poking around for family history when I stumbled across your page. We're not directly descended from James Nagle but this has helped us to put a personality to what would be just another name with some dates next to it.

Anonymous said...

My late brother was James J. Nagle.