One of the most intriguing things about working from the letters of John Given in writing Suite Harmonic was discovering more about the people and places referred to in his letters. The excerpt featured on the banner is from a letter dated Davis Mills, Mississippi, December 31, 1862, that refers to John’s cousin Menomen O’Donnell, who was also from Drumboarty in County, Donegal in Ireland.
The story of their meeting at Davis Mills is related in Chapter Fourteen of Suite Harmonic, which is also the chapter in which John tells Menomen the story of the 250 men of the 25th Indiana making their blockhouse defense against 10,000 men of Van Dorn’s army.
A transcript of the excerpt follows the information below about Menomen, which comes from the Military Times Hall of Valor website:
Date of birth: April 20, 1830
Date of death: September 03, 1911
Burial Location: Vincennes, Indiana
Place of Birth: Drumbarty, Ireland
Home of record: Sumner, Illinois
Awards and Citations
Medal of Honor
Awarded for actions during the Civil War
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Menomen O’Donnell, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 22 May 1863 while serving with Company A, 11th Missouri Infantry, in action at Vicksburg, Mississippi. First Lieutenant O’Donnell voluntarily joined the color guard in the assault on the enemy’s works when he saw indications of wavering and caused the colors of his regiment to be planted on the parapet. At Fort DeRussey, Louisiana, on 14 March 1864, he voluntarily placed himself in the ranks of an assaulting column (being then on staff duty) and rode with it into the enemy’s works, being the only mounted officer present, was twice wounded in battle.
General Orders: Date of Issue: September 11, 1897
Action Date: May 22, 1863 & March 14, 1864
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company A
Division: 11th Missouri Infantry
Transcript of Excerpt: Here in this isolated place I have the pleasure of seeing M. O’Donnell. He looks very well but his hair is grey. He came to my tent the day before yesterday and you may suppose that he gave me a very agreeable surprise. We talked a great deal about old times and we spend the time very happily together when not on duty. He sends his best respects to you . . .