This Week in the History of the Irish: June 24 - June 30

DOMHNAIGH -- On June 24, 1797, John Hughes, the first archbishop of New York, was born in Annaloghlan, County Tyrone. Hughes emigrated to the United States in 1817 and was ordained in Maryland in 1826. Appointed bishop in New York in 1842 and archbishop in 1850, Hughes was a fierce defender of Catholic civil rights during the worst period of anti-Catholic bigotry in American history.

(Left: Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, 1860. Armed men protected the church against threats of Nativist violence against the church, the seat of the Archdiocese of New York.)

When a Philadelphia mob attacked Catholics and burned two churches there in 1844, and nativists were threatening the same in New York, Hughes placed armed guards on his churches. He then warned Mayor James Harper if he allowed a single Catholic church to be burned "the city would become a Moscow." Apparently, Harper took Hughes threat quite seriously, for in spite of his own anti-Catholic feeling, the mayor took action and the Catholic churches of New York were saved.

LUAIN -- On June 25, 1870Robert Erskine Childers, whose mother was from County Clare, was born in London. Childers was raised at the home of family members at Glendalough, County Wicklow. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. After serving in the British army during the Boer War he became an Irish nationalist. In 1914, Childers smuggled German rifles into Ireland on his yacht, Asgard. Though he served as the principal secretary to Collins and Griffith at the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations, Childers opposed the treaty, supporting the anti-treaty forces during the Civil War. Childers was captured by Free Staters in November 1922 with a pistol shortly after the Free State had passed legislation making such possession a capital offence. Ironically, the revolver Childers possessed was a gift from a former comrade – Michael Collins, who led the Free State until his death in an ambush three months earlier. Childers was found guilty on November 19 and executed on November 24, during the tragic exchange of atrocities by the two sides. Before they shot him, Childers shook the hand of each member of his firing squad. Childer's son, also called Erskine, would one day be President of Ireland.

CÉADAOIN -- On June 27, 1862, the Irish 9th Massachusetts Infantry regiment of the Union Army was heavily engaged at the battle of Gaines Mill, Virginia, during McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. Put into an exposed, forward position near the bridge over Powhite Creek, the regiment sustained heavy casualties while delaying the advance of A. P. Hill's division, allowing other Federal forces to improve their defenses. Among the Confederates attacking the 9th's position were the Irishmen of Company K, 1st South Carolina.

(Left: Meagher and his Irish Brigade come to the relief of the 9th MA at Gaines Mill as depicted by Don Troiani in "Brothers of Ireland.")

After pulling back to the main Federal line, the regiment would be hotly engaged again later in the day. Numerous attacks by Hill's Confederates were repulsed through the day, and the 9th would also help cover the retreat of their brigade. The 9th was one of the last regiments of the 5th Corps remaining on the field as Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher and his Irish Brigade rushed into line to relieve the beleaguered remnant of the brave Massachusetts regiment. Seeing the green flags of the Irish Brigade coming to the 9th's aid, Lt. Col. Patrick Guiney, who had been watching his regiment shrink in number all day, shook the hand of Meagher and exclaimed, "Thank God, we are saved." The 9th lost 82 killed and 167 wounded that day.

Read more about the battle HERE.

James Daly, executed leader of the Connaught Rangers mutiny in India.

DEARDAOIN -- On June 28, 1920, at Wellington barracks in Jullundar, India, 350 Irish members of the famous Connaught Rangers regiment of the British army laid down their arms and refused to keep soldiering as long as British troops remained in Ireland. The mutiny soon spread to Ranger detachments in Solon and Jutogh. The leader of the rebellious Rangers in Solon was James Daly. While the Rangers at Jullundar, including Daly's brother, had not attempted anything beyond refusing to soldier, at Solon, Daly led a night time raid on the armory in an attempt to recover the arms they had voluntarily turned in that day. During that confrontation Daly shouted to the officers guarding the munitions, "If you want to know who the leader is, I am, James Daly, number 35025 of Tyrellspass, Co. Westmeath. Two of the mutineers were killed that night -- Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears. Eventually 61 Rangers were convicted by courts martial and 14 sentenced to death. James Daly was the only one shot, on Nov. 2, 1920. We believe it noteworthy that an Irishmen remains the last soldier executed by the British army for a military offense.

VOICES

'No sir; but I am afraid some of yours will be burned.' 
       -- Bishop John Hughes (left) answer to New York's nativist Mayor James Harper in 1844 when Harper asked Hughes if he feared some of his churches would be burned by anti-Catholic mobs.

'At Gaine's Mill, Colonel Thomas Cass's gallant 9th Massachusetts Volunteers of Griffin's brigade obstinately resisted A.P. Hill's crossing, and were so successful in delaying his advance, after crossing, as to compel him to employ large bodies to force the regiment back to the main line.' 
         -- Union General Fitz-John Porter, writing in Century Magazine in 1884.

BIRTHS

June -- Meitheamh

24, 1797 - Most Rev. John Hughes (First Archbishop of New York - Co. Tyrone.)
24, 1895 - Jack Dempsey (Heavyweight boxing champion, Manassa, Colorado. )
25, 1870 - Erskine Childers (Author and Revolutionary - London, England)
27, 1846 - Charles Stewart Parnell (Politician - Avondale, Co. Wicklow)
27, 1850 - Lafcadio Hearn (Author on Japanese subjects – Lafcadio Island, Greece.)
28, 1844 - John Boyle O’Reilly (Author, poet, and republican - Dowth Castle, Co. Meath)
29, 1771
 - John Edward Newell (Informer - Downpatrick, Co. Down.) 

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

24, 1798 - Capture of Castlecomer, County Kilkenny.
25, 1690 - Waterford surrenders to the Williamites.
25, 1876 - Myles Keogh and over 30 other Irish-born troopers are killed with Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana.
26, 1757 - Count Maximilian Ulysses Brown, Austrian Field Marshal, dies in Prague.
26, 1798 - Battle of Kilcumney Hill in County Carlow.
26, 1798 - Bagenal Henry, United Irishman, hung from Wexford bridge.
26, 1846 - England repeals Corn Laws.
27, 1743 - Irish Brigade of France fights at the battle of Dettingen. 
27, 1783 - Hibernia regiment of Spain's Irish Brigade arrives to garrison Augustine, Fla.
27, 1862 - Battle of Gaines Mill, VA (Federal Irish Brigade, 9th MA, Confederate 6th LA engaged)
27, 1898 - Ancient Order of Hibernians in US revived at unity conference.
27, 1963 - President John F. Kennedy arrives for his famous visit to his ancestor’s homeland.
28, 1861 - Robert Burke, of Co. Galway, dies of starvation while exploring Australia.      
28, 1920 - India Mutiny by Irish members of Connaught Rangers.
28, 1922 - Irish Civil War begins. Free State forces attack Republicans in Four Courts, Dublin.
29, 1315 - Edward the Bruce of Scotland and his Irish allies take the town of Dundalk.
29, 1733 - Irish Brigade of France fights at the battle of Parma.
29, 1775 - At the Battle of Bemis Heights (Second Saratoga) Timothy Murphy’s shooting of Sir Francis Clerke and General Simon Fraser is one of the keys to the American victory.
29, 1798 - Engagement of Ballyellis
30, 1691 - Colonel Richard Grace is killed in Williamite attack on Athlone.

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Tags: American Civil War, Asia, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day, United States

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