An Ornament of the Army

On August 25, 1863, the following appeared in the Rochester Democrat and American. It was written by Ira Clark. Clark, a one time Adjutant of the 140th New York Infantry, wrote it in tribute to the regiment’s Colonel, Patrick H. O’Rorke. O’Rorke had been killed leading the regiment on Little Round Top at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.

The sound of mourning has ceased and the eyes that gazed on the sleeping warrior for the last time are turned away; but the sorrow for the dead is a sacred and grateful sorrow, and it is fit that we return to the grave to pay, not only the tribute we love to bring, but that we owe. While we think today what others are, we cannot forget what he might have been.

His brilliant parts very early won the attention and assistance of those who were so well known as his life-long friends and patrons. No friendship could be misplaced in him. Thrown among the choicest spirits of the nation, his warm and generous nature gathered to itself what he never betrayed or weakened-the love of all. And though he died young he died as the old man dies-crowned with friendship…

He was one whose success I never doubted and the intelligence of his death fell upon my ear like a loss of a brother. It had always seemed to me that he would never be struck to the ground. I thought of this comrade or that, stiffening in death, but it never occurred to me that the first dread messenger would lay low him who was the hope of a new and lovely home, a bright ornament of the army and the deserving object of the soldiers’ love…

For more information, see The Beau Ideal of a Soldier and A Gentlemen: The Life of Col. Patrick Henry O’Rorke From Ireland to Gettysburg by Brian A. Bennett. Schroeder Publications, Lynchburg, VA. 2012.

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