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Proceedings of the Fourth Congress at Atlanta, GA., April 28 to May 1, 1892
The Scotch-Irish Boy in the "Banks."


BY CAPT. GEO. B. FORBES, ATLANTA, GA.

I had hoped that time would have been so occupied that I might have escaped the ordeal of a speech before this critical audience. Especially for myself do I deem it unfortunate that I should follow our eminent friend, Rev. Dr. Bryson, whose silver tongue has electrified his audience. My only hope to make myself even tolerated is to speak to you about one who has not yet been brought forward in any speech or paper read. It is the private soldier of Scotch-Irish origin in our late family quarrel. While I may speak from my standpoint as a Confederate soldier, I wish my friends who were on the other side in this unpleasantness to apply to themselves all the good things I may say.

In speaking to this audience, composed of men who were on one or the other side, I feel I have a peculiar right to be either impudent or liberal, for I was born and reared under the genial clime of Southern sky, imbued with Southern civilization and institutions, from a parentage of New York and Connecticut.

Early in 1861 I donned my suit of gray, then, as you may imagine, a mere youth, and went forth to battle with the idea that I could whip a whole regiment of Yankees. How quickly that illusion was dispelled it is hardly necessary for me to say, for I soon learned that there was another fellow on the opposing side who could shoot as well as I.

At this late day I have no apologies to make and none to demand, for now, in the language of our illustrious Hill, "We are in the house of our fathers, our brothers are our companions, and we are at home to stay, thank God," for now whatever side he may have taken, be he Scotch-Irish or from any other race, he is to-day an American citizen, protected alike under the old flag which is ours by right of inheritance. This commingling of our race, from all parts of this broad land of ours, will eventually wipe out all animosity and help keep forever green the sod over the graves of our fallen heroes, whether they wore the blue or the gray.

As typical of the characteristics of our race, I will mention a few things that concerned the men in the lower ranks of our Southern army.

Early in June, 1862, six or eight men of the Federal army conceived the idea of destroying telegraphic communication and our railroad facilities in the rear of the army at Chattanooga. They came down the Western and Atlantic railroad, stole an engine, and started up the road for this purpose. It is due, I may say, to one of our own citizens whom we delight to honor that an effort was made to secure an engine and follow. They destroyed some of the telegraph wires; but they were pressed so closely that they burned no bridges. Mr. Anthony Murphy, of our city, was the man that conceived the idea of pursuing the raiders. A part of them were captured and a part escaped; but the pleasant feature of it is that two years ago the survivors of that raid came to Atlanta. Whom do you suppose they sought? They did not seek the Governor, nor did they seek the Mayor, but they sought Mr. Murphy and made him a present of a handsome gold-headed cane.

To show how close we can get together after such scenes as that, I will mention another incident. I had the pleasure sometime since of showing the cyclorama of the battle of Atlanta to our mutual friend, Col. John W. Echols. He said to me: "I was too young to to be in the army, but now I would give anything in the world if I had been there. I wouldn't care which side I was on, so that I would now be able to talk to you old fellows." [Laughter.] Another pleasant experience I had this morning: the Hon. Mr. Roper, of Pennsylvania, said to me that he was glad the war had ended before the bullet had been molded that would have killed me. I can here publicly say the same for him. [Applause.] One other incident that might perhaps interest you, but as my time is limited, I will make it short, was the last fight of the little ship "Alabama.'' The second in command of that vessel was our Adjutant General, an interesting Scotch-Irish character. I will tell only one anecdote of him. The "Alabama" was in bad condition, and Capt. Semmes put into the harbor of Cherbourg, on the north coast of France, for repairs. He soon found out that the "Kearsarge" was just outside. He did not dare to stop, for if he did he realized he would have more than one United States war vessel to fight. So he took the chances, and one bright, beautiful Sunday morning in June, 1864, he steamed out of port and gave battle to the "Kearsarge," in that foreign water. The result was disastrous, of course, but what I want to tell you about is connected with John Mcintosh Kell, who commanded the batteries of that vessel. During the hottest part of the fight, realizing that he was not moving fast enough, he went to the skylight of the engine room and sung out to the engineer to "give her more steam or we will be whipped." There was a Scotch-Irishman down in the engine room by the name of O'Brien. Engineer Brooks, who had heard Mr. Kell's order said to O'Brien: "Mr. Kell says give her more steam or we will be whipped, but we have positive orders not to carry more than fifteen pounds." O'Brien answered back: "Give her more steam; we had just as well bo blown up as to be whipped." [Applause.]


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