29th Mass. - "Colorful" Content Irish Brigade Letter - Yes, the Irish did like their liquor!

John Murrey Atwood, a 25-year-old clerk from Plymouth, Mass., enlisted in May 1861 as a Sergeant in Company E of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry.  Murrey (as he liked to be called and as he signs the letter) is writing his sister from Germantown (Maryland) on August 27th, 1862.  The 29th Mass. had become part of the famous Irish Brigade in June of 1862.  Several days after our letter was written, the 29th covered the retreat of Pope’s Army from 2nd Bull Run.  Shortly after that, it was heavily engaged in battle near the Bloody Lane at Antietam.   

In our letter Murrey has been recuperating in the hospital and relates an incident that he had the handle:

“I had a pretty hard time with one of the boys last night, he was drink and noisy our on the street after nine o’clock and I ordered him to go into the hospital and he would not do it.  So I just took him by the collar and started him and he showed a fight.  I then knocked him down and got some of the other boys to help me put him n the guard house, although I got considerably scratched up by it and so did the other boys.  He bit me pretty hard once on the leg, but I just struck him right in the mouth with my fist and he was glad to let go although I knocked the skin all off of my fist in doing it, for a struck right against his teeth.  We have a good many hard cases to take care nearly every day they go out and get drunk and that makes trouble for us.”

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