Dec. 24, 1861: Captain David Power Conyngham of the Union Army writes of this Christmas Eve in his book, The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns:
"The chapel was situated on the brow of a hill, and tall cedars and pines flung their sheltering arms over it. Father Dillon was chanting a Low Mass, the responses being made by Quartermaster Haverty and Captain O'Sullivan, while the attentive audience crowded the small chapel, and were kneeling outside on the damp ground under the cold night-air. Father Dillon read the beautiful gospel from Saint Luke, giving an account of the joumeyings of Joseph and Mary, and the birth of the infant Saviour in the manger at Bethlehem ; after which his hearers quietly retired to their tents.
"The weather in camp was fine, almost resembling an Indian-summer. A slight frost at night and a shower of soft snow were the only indications of winter.
"In Virginia, the weather at this season is generally mild and balmy, with little of the heavy frost and angry storms that rage at the North.
"Such was Christmas morning, 1861, in the camp of the Irish Brigade, where willing hearts piously welcomed this holy festival, laden with the richest freight of happy recollections."