‘The fact is, General, I would like very well to bury the whole lot of you.’

A friend and admirer of Father Abram J. Ryan pointed me to this amusing anecdote:

A wanderer, Ryan left his footprints in various places in the 1860s, including as a priest in Illinois and Tennessee, where he was also an unofficial chaplain to Confederate soldiers. It was in Knoxville that he penned his most famous poem “in a little over an hour” and “out of a broken heart,” he said later. A plaque commemorates the spot, and a Catholic school in Nashville bears his name.

Some tales have Ryan going missing at times, or at least spanning a wider geographical area, including New Orleans, where he was said to have smarted off to a general who had accused him of refusing to bury a Union soldier.

Ryan supposedly said: “Why, I was never asked to bury him, and never refused. The fact is, General, I would like very well to bury the whole lot of you.”

Photo taken at the Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans, during my vacation there earlier this year.

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