This letter from Patrick O’Rorke to his brother Thomas, describing the former’s experiences during the First Bull Run campaign, came to me from my friend Dr. Thomas Clemens of Keedysville, Md. (see here for an earlier article). The transcript was given to him by the late Brian Pohanka of Alexandria, Va. We don’t know where the original letter is, so we have a provenance problem. The letter was referred to by Rev. Robert F. McNamara in Gettysburg Centenary Recalls Heroism of Rochester, an article in the June 28, 1963 Catholic Council Journal of Rochester, NY, but the article was not footnoted. I contacted Brian Bennett, author of this biography of O’Rorke, and he is not aware of the location of the letter, but it may be part of a cache he examined a number of years ago, some of which he transcribed at the time and used in his work. (Thanks to Mr. Bennett for providing me with a copy of the McNamara article, as well as pointing me to Robert Marcotte’s Where They Fell – Stories of Rochester Soldiers in the Civil War, which has lots of good stuff on the 13th NY.)
As far as I know, this letter has never been published. Manassas National Battlefield Park did not have a copy on file. I have posted it here as it appears in the transcription provided by Dr. Clemens, and have linked to it on the Private Correspondence – Union page that you can find in the right hand column of this page. I have not corrected the spelling or punctuation, nor have I annotated the letter – though I may do that in the future. I’ll also write up a biographical sketch of O’Rorke.