Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Location - Gettysburg

One Who Did Not Come Home

2nd Mass Monument at Gettysburg
He was his mother’s only son.  Maybe Patrick was the reason why the family came to America.  They likely emigrated from Ireland about the time of the famine.  Thomas Hoey, his wife Ann, and their three children came to Lowell.  By 1855 Thomas lists himself as a laborer with the future looking hopeful.  Ann dies about 1859.  Then the war began.  The mills closed, and jobs were lost, including Patrick Hoey’s job as carder in the mill.  Maybe this is what drove Patrick to enlist in the 2nd Mass.  Or maybe it was what all the other young men were doing in Lowell after hearing of the Riot in Baltimore and what happened to the 6th Mass and the boys from Lowell.  He participated in the Battle of Antietam and was promoted to Corporal.
Patrick Hoey's Grave at Gettysburg
In July of 1863 the 2nd Mass found themselves in Pennsylvania in the little town of Gettysburg.  On the second day of fighting the 2nd Mass found themselves at Spangler’s Spring.  Some say the opposing forces spent the evening sitting by the spring exchanging stories while filling their canteens.  But the next morning the slaughter began.  On the rocky ledges of the spring the 2nd Mass was engaged and overpowered.  Twenty year old Patrick Hoey fell.  Only 13 of the 35 soldiers under Cpt. Francis’ command escaped unhurt.  Many of the Lowell boys were among the casualties.  Patrick would not be returning home.  His remains were put in a hasty grave and days later exhumed to be interred in the new National Cemetery to be dedicated by President Lincoln.  Today he is in Section 19, Row B, Number 14.
Spangler's Spring at Gettysburg
I’ve been to Gettysburg a dozen times before, but never with the connection that I have now.  It is one thing to read about the Civil War and collect a bunch of facts.  It’s quite another to put names and families with the thousand of stones that surround you.  To visit the spot where he fell, and to see where he now rests is just a little honor to the sacrifice he and so many others made. 

As usual many thanks to Walter for doing the research while I get to walk the battlefield.  Slowly, but surely, the story of Lowell’s Irish is being recorded for those who will follow us.

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