‘I Am Not Long For This World’: An Irish-American Soldier Says Goodbye to His Family

Irish in the American Civil War

The last post on the site examined a mother’s desperate attempts to contact her wounded son. Equally poignant are those letters, occasionally included in the files, which impart a soldier’s final words to his family from his deathbed. On 23rd February 1864, George Carl of the 7th Ohio Infantry sat by the bed of William Brophy of the 29th Pennsylvania, in the Union General Hospital at Bridgeport, Alabama. William’s end was near, and both men knew it. The soldier was suffering from chronic diarrhea, a cause of death that was listed for thousands of soldiers during the war. Unable to write himself, William dictated a letter to George, addressing his last thoughts to his wife back home in Philadelphia. (1)

A hospital ward in a convalescent camp near Alexandria (Library of Congress) A hospital ward in a convalescent camp near Alexandria (Library of Congress)

Although William Brophy is recorded as being born in England in the 1860 Census, there is little…

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