St. Patrick's Day, 1865
from the Journal of Samuel A. Clear, First Sergeant of the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment
Friday, March 17th
St. Patricks Day in the morning, and it is a fine morning, weather beautiful. This is the day of the "Irish Brigade Jubilee."
Corpl Alex Chisholm and I got leave of absence and went back to Corps Head Quarters. We found thousands of troops there and men busy putting the finishing touches to the race track &c &c. We found a nice track like a Fair Ground track, but here they had four hurdles built three feet high across the track and between these hurdles a ditch three feet deep, four feet wide and feet long [sic]. A large platform filled with Officers and Judges and about twenty ladies. Also a good brass band.
At ten O'Clock the horses and riders came in. The Col of the 7th N.Y. Dutch led the way on a large Black Stallion, Capt Brady with a fine horse and a Zouave Lieutenant came next, and then others came and arranged themselves in line, and then the word was given and away they go.
Some went over the hurdles and ditches, some flew the track and ran through the crowd of soldiers. A sergeant of the 69th New York was trampled to death and half a dozen others badly wounded. The Ambulance was hauling dead and wounded away all day. The second round the Black Stallion of the Dutch Col fell over a hurdle and broke his neck and both arms of the Colonel. They sent the Colonel to the Hospital, rolled the dead horse out of the way and went ahead as if nothing had happened.
Corporal Chisholm and myself sit in the Head Quarters carriage of Genl Meade on top of the hill four hundred yards away and we was hardly safe there, as one horse flew the track and nearly run through the carriage we sit in. I never seen such a time.
Capt Brady beat them all, his horse carried him over nice and he kept his seat like he had grown there. On they went, horses flying the track, running over the spectators, falling over the hurdles, into the ditches, breaking arms, legs &c. We soon got tired and came back to camp.
Never did I see such a crazy time. I will have to alter my mind if I ever go to see another Irish fair.