James Rorty

James Rorty

DZouave5@aol.com says:


As the immigrant and Sherman & other assorted topics file off into email, it is nonethless interesting to note the words of an Irish-born battery commander who fell on July 3, 1863 -- James McKay Rorty. As you and most other Gettysburg students know, Captain Rorty commanded Battery B, 1st NY Light Artillery -- formerly Pettit's Battery, taking over the guns a day before his death in battle.

In attempting to explain to his father why he would risk his life in a war that seemed of such little consequence to most Irish immigrants (and half of Rorty's family was still in Donegal), the young officer stated, in part,

"And still further, dear father, let me reassure you of my firm conviction, that the separation of this Union into North and South would not only be fatal to the progress of constitutional freedom but would open impassable barriers in the way of future immigration. It would close forever the wide portals through which the pilgrims of liberty from every European clime have sought and found it. Why? Because at the North the prejudices springing from the hateful and dominant spirit of Putitanism, and in the South, the haughty exclusiveness of an Oligarchy would be equally repulsive, intolerant and despotic. Our only guarantee is the Constitution, our only safety is in the Union, one, and indivisible."
Rorty was an Irish revolutionary -- quite active in the Fenian Brotherhood. And as this passage would indicate, he was most eloquent, despite his lack of a formal education. He had no love for abolitionists; but he did, clearly, see a cause worthy giving his life for, though an immigrant; and he gave that promising life beside his guns, on Cemetery Ridge.

Keep up the good work -- my respects,

Brian Pohanka