To my Officers and Soldiers, my Countrymen and Comrades in Arms.
A positive conviction of what I owe to your reputation, to the honour of our race, and to my own conscience, compelled me a few days ago to tender the President of the United States my resignation of this command. I shall not recapitulate the reasons which induced me and justified me to do so. It would be superfluous. There is not a man in this command who is not fully aware of the reasons which compelled me to resign, and there is not a man who does not thoroughly appreciate and approve it.
Suffice it to say that, the Irish Brigade no longer existing, I felt that it would be perpetuating a great deception were I to retain the authority and rank of brigadier-general nominally commanding the same. I therefore conscientiously, though most reluctantly, resigned my command. That resignation has been accepted, and as your general I now bid you an affectionate farewell.
I cannot do so, however, without leaving on record the assurance of the happiness, the gratitude, the pride with which I revert to the first days of the Irish Brigade, when it struggled in its infancy, and was sustained alone by its native strength and instinct, and retrace from the field, where it first displayed its brilliant gallantry, all the efforts, all the hardships, all the privations, all the sacrifices which have made its history – brief though it be – sacred and inestimable. Sharing with the humblest soldier freely and heartily all the hardships and dangers of the battle-field – never having ordered an advance that I did not take the lead myself – I thank God that I have been spared to do justice to those whose heroism deserves from me a grateful commemoration, and that I have been preserved to bring comfort to those who have lost fathers, husbands and brothers, in the soldiers who have fallen for a noble government under the green flag.
My life has been a varied one, and I have passed through many distracting scenes. But never has the river that flowed beside my cradle, never have the mountains that overlooked the paths of my childhood, never have the old walls that claimed the curiosity and research of maturer days, been effaced from my memory. As at first – as in nature – the beautiful and glorious picture is indelible. Not less vivid, not less ineffaceable, will be the recollection of my companionship with the Irish Brigade in the service of the United States. The graves of many hundreds of brave and devoted soldiers, who went to death with all the radiance and enthusiasm of the noblest chivalry, are so many guarantees and pledges that, so long as there remains one officer or one soldier of the Irish Brigade, so long shall there be found for him, for his family and little ones, if any there be, a devoted friend in
THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER.