In the spring we received orders to
hold ourselves in readiness to embark for Dublin.
This pleased us very much, for we were anxious to
see old Ireland. We were conveyed to Bristol by
train and then embarked for Dublin. Arriving
without incident, we disembarked. Eight companies
marched to and took up quarters at Richmond barracks.
The other two companies, which included my own, occupied
Linen Hall barracks.
We found quite a difference in the
general routine of a soldier’s life in Dublin.
There were 5,000 troops in garrison, including a battalion
of Grenadier Guards, and ceremonial parades were in
evidence. The trooping of the colors at guard
mounting on the esplanade was one of the most spectacular.
The marching past in slow time to the music of massed
bands, together with the other beautiful movements
attached to this grand old practice, drew thousands
of citizens to witness it. Those grand displays
were no doubt the means of establishing a friendship
between soldiers and citizens. This was a very
proud garrison, and the men vied with each other in
dress and general appearance on the streets and public
thoroughfares of the city. It was commanded by
General Sir George Brown.
We said good-bye to Colonel Franklin,
and Major McKinstry was gazetted lieutenant-colonel
and to command the battalion. The colonel was
well liked by all ranks. He was with the 1st
Battalion during the Crimean war, and was an officer
who studied the individual soldier and attended to
his welfare. He had a keen memory. We had
a transfer from the 1st Battalion who had also been
in the Crimea. He was brought up for being drunk.
I do not know whether the colonel intended to bring
his previous conduct against him, but in his admonition
and advice reminded him that one night in the trenches
before Sebastopol he was drunk.
Next we marched to the Curragh camp
to be quartered there during the balance of the drill
season. The distance is about 25 miles. We
left Richmond barracks about 9 a.m. It was a
very hard hot day’s work that we had before
us. We carried a lunch in our haversacks, and
when we got into the country we received humorous
and good-natured replies to questions we asked those
we met. For instance, I was in charge of a section
of the advance guard, and I asked a native how far
we were from Naas. He answered: “Three
miles and a wee bit, sur.” We would about
cover that distance and ask another native, receiving
the same answer. So we trudged on looking anxiously
for church spires and chimney tops. At last we
saw the long-looked-for halting place, and Naas with
all the Irish beauties it contained was near.
The band, that had been silent a considerable distance,
struck up “Garry own to glory.”
After supper the men cleaned up, went
into the village, and were most cordially greeted,
especially by the fair sex, who indeed were Irish
beauties. We marched out of the village amidst
cheering and the playing of Irish airs by the band.
In two hours the camp was in sight, and when about
a mile from it we were met by two bands, belonging
to 11th and 86th regiments, with whom we were to brigade,
and also an invitation from the sergeants of the 11th
regiment to lunch at their mess after our immediate
duties had been performed. We took up our quarters
in “F” square and were again in huts,
but everything for the comfort of the regiment was
at hand. The commanding officer was pleased to
appoint me battalion drill instructor, and about this
time Ensign Mogg Rolph, a Canadian, was gazetted and
posted to the regiment, and I had the honor and pleasure
of being his instructor for some time. The present
Lieutenant-Colonel Rolph will always have a place amongst
my best and happiest thoughts. H.R.H. the Prince
of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, was in camp and attached
to the 39th Regiment for the drill season. He
was doing captain’s duty and attended battalion,
brigade and divisional drills; we saw H.R.H. quite
frequently. Her Majesty the Queen visited the
camp that summer. It rained the day of review,
but that did not matter; thousands were present to
greet the Queen and shouted themselves hoarse.
General Sir George Brown was in command.
The Curragh is a beautiful spot, there being such
a large area for sham fights, field days and drills
in general. The rifle ranges are adjacent to the
camp, each regiment having its own range. The
routine of camp life is the same as in the other camps
we have been quartered in. There is a small theatre
in the camp where the troops give performances weekly.
Each corps has its own amateurs and takes turns to
furnish programmes, theatrical, literary, vocal and
musical. There was good talent to be found in
the camp. The Prince would occasionally attend
a performance, and no doubt enjoyed it.
We were shown a monument erected to
the memory of a captain who was accidentally shot.
It appears his company, which he was in charge of at
the time, had completed their firing and were returning
to camp by a circuitous route. Other corps were
firing at the time, when a ricochet bullet struck
the captain and killed him.
About this time we received extremely
sad news to the effect that Lieutenant-Colonel Crofton,
who so recently left us, had been assassinated on
the barrack-square in Colchester. It appears that
a private had neglected his duty when on picket sentry,
and the adjutant brought him before the colonel and
reported his neglect, and he was sentenced to an extra
duty. It being Saturday, the men of his company
were all assembled in an upper room for medical inspection.
He took advantage of this and went to a room on the
ground floor, and procuring a rifle, loaded it.
During this time the two officers had left the orderly
room and were walking arm in arm up the barrack square,
the adjutant being nearest. The assassin fired,
the bullet going through the body of the adjutant
and entering the colonel’s, and both were killed.
The man was tried and hanged. The sergeants of
my regiment made an application to wear mourning for
four successive Sundays, as a mark of respect toward
our late commanding officer. The commander-in-chief
The furlough season was near and I
was to leave for six weeks, commencing at Christmas,
but there was something not very pleasant going on
between the United States and England over the Trent
affair. It looked so serious that some 25,000
troops were placed under orders to proceed to North
America, and the “Tigers,” our battalion,
was among them. We had received orders to the
effect that as soon as the hired transport steamships
Cleopatra and Mauritius were ready,
we would embark for Halifax, Nova Scotia. The
commanding officer informed me that I could not have
my leave, and those already on leave would be recalled
immediately. In this case the company owning these
ships was responsible only for the conveyance; the
military authorities were to make all other arrangements.
The commanding officer selected me
to superintend the shipping and stowing away of provisions
and clothing, which was to be done at Haul Bowlin,
where the regiment was to embark, and I left at once
to perform this duty. Arriving in Cork, I reported
at the quartermaster-general’s department and
was attached to the 12th Regiment. Christmas was
near and the steamer had not arrived. On Christmas
the regiment arrived at Cork station. I went
down to meet them and returned to the barracks, where
the right wing remained till they embarked. Not
a drum was heard, in consequence of the death of H.R.H.
the Prince Consort. The battalion marched to
barracks in death-like silence, with colors draped
and other signs of mourning visible. The sergeants
of my regiment were invited to dine with their old
comrades of the 12th on Christmas Day. We were
enjoying our dinner when an orderly summoned me to
the orderly room. When I reported I found the
Q.M.G., colonel, quartermaster, adjutant and others
assembled. I was ordered to at once prepare to
accompany them to Haul Bowlin. That stopped my
Christmas festivities, but the 12th boys filled my
haversack with good things.
On arrival my duties were at once
explained to me. I was to make notes of the disposition
of all packages, barrels, bales, etc., of provision
and clothing, so they could be found without difficulty
during the voyage. A winter campaign was expected,
and we had considerable furs and clothing to meet
it. Not far from Haul Bowlin is Spike Island,
a convict settlement, and the convicts were brought
over to put the goods on board. It was difficult
to have them do as I desired, but the guards with
loaded carbines soon brought them to time, and in a
few days my work was completed, and on the 1st of
January, 1862, the wing embarked and sailed for Halifax.
When the battalion paraded in Cork
barracks the morning they were leaving, General Blood
addressed them, giving some good advice to this young
regiment, warning them against drinking rum, but instead
to drink milk.
The first thing we had to face was
seasickness, and very few escaped it. The voyage
was a tempestuous one. We met a heavy gale when
out several days, but no damage was done; the ship
was intact at the end of the passage and the men in
the best of health and spirits. Arriving at Newfoundland
we took on a pilot. The colonel asked him how
the trouble between the two countries was progressing.
He assured us that it had been amicably settled.
That meant no fighting. The men were disappointed.