Charles G. Halpine
“Miles O’Reilly”

There appeared in The New York Herald a series of satirical lyrics in the assumed character of an Irish private in the Union Army who rapidly became famous. Charles Graham Halpine (1829-68), a versatile Irish journalist and poet who had been with General Hunter in South Carolina, wrote the poems, which were published subsequently in two volumes as Life and Adventures, Songs, Services and Speeches of Private Miles O’Reilly (1864). The best of this collection is the amusing account of the visit of the hero to the President, the members of the Cabinet, and foreign ministers at the White House

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907-21): VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

(Information with thanks to – Great Books on line)


There are bonds of all sorts in this world of ours,
Fetters of friendship and ties of flowers,
And true lover’s knots, I ween;
The girl and the boy are bound by a kiss,
But there’s never a bond, old friend, like this,
We have drunk from the same Canteen!

It was sometimes water, and sometimes milk,
And sometimes apple-jack “fine as silk;”
But whatever the tipple has been
We shared it together in bane or bliss,
And I warm to you, friend, when I think of this,
We drank from the same Canteen!

The rich and great sit down to dine,
They quaff to each other in sparkling wine,
From glasses of crystal and green;
But I guess in their golden potations they miss
The warmth of regard to be found in this,
We drank from the same Canteen!

We have shared our blankets and tents together,
And have marched and fought in all kinds of weather,
And hungry and full we have been;
Had days of battle and days of rest,
But this memory I cling to and love the best,
We drank from the same Canteen!

For when wounded I lay on the center slope,
With my blood flowing fast and so little hope
Upon which my faint spirit could lean;
Oh! then I remember you crawled to my side,
And bleeding so fast it seemed both must have died,
We drank from the same Canteen!