Monday, March 21, 2016

Patrick McShea (McShay) - 1841-1900 - Sargeant Major 28th Pennsylvania 147th Pennsylvania Volunteers - Obit Info Etc.

Civil War Records - National Archive - Record Name Spelling as both McShea and McShay

Find a Grave

Phila.Inquirer 24 May 1895 (Reprint of : Inquirer 24 May 1864)

However, in May 1863, Lt. James Silliman recommended that Pvt. McShea receive a Medal of Honor for "gallant and meritorious conduct at the battles of Antietam and Chancellorsville  where he displayed his usual courage" (letter in the Pennsylvania Historical Society).

For reasons unknown, McShea never actually received a medal, but he fought in all the battles with the 28th and rose to the rank of sergeant. After their three years expired, most re-enlisted.

When Gen. William T. Sherman was told to end the war and march to the sea, the 28th continued its commitment.

Just before Christmas 1864 and just before the sea, McShea was captured and marched to a stockade prison. In Treatment of Prisoners of War by the Rebel Authorities, Library of Congress, House Report No. 45, Sgt. McShea related his experience among 7,000 prisoners:

"I had no shelter for seven days. Then they let us build (a) shelter of pine tree tops covered with dirt. The prisoners burrowed caves in the ground, and we lived in them like rabbits. They gave us neither blanket nor clothing.

"Our food in the prison pen was one pint of unbolted corn meal a day, no meat ... and two tablespoons full of Carolina stock peas about three times a week. We cooked the meal and beans in half a canteen, over a fireĆ¢€¦. We broke the canteen so as to make a kind of cup of it.

"I was there about 11 weeks ... I do not think I could have lived one week longer. ... My parents did not know me when I got home, I was so thin."

After the war, McShea returned to Kelayres as a coal laborer, married, and started a family.

*         *         *

One bit of family oral history has the Christmas treat of a dog’s head being boiled in the Prisoner’s ration of corn meal. The Confederate captors, short of rations themselves, obviously shared dog with corn meal amongst themselves that Southern Christmas of 1864.

The offer of an appointment to a state job by Governor Geary was I think refused in that I believe that although Patrick could sign his name, he may not have been greatly literate.  On many post-civil war documents and applying for a Veteran’s Disability Pension based on his ill health after and initially caused by his being a POW shows my great grandmother, his wife, signing her witnessed by others “X” signature.

As to the medal of honor thing  there was an under level of contempt in stories told about the family Civil War Hero regarding the mostly Protestant officers and their various prejudices toward Irish (Immigrant) Catholics which seemed to have been one obstacle, one of many at many levels, regarding the medal of honor recommendation. 

And as noted on some civil war documents, Sgt. McShea was busted to Pvt. on one or two occasions because of fist fights etc. 


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