This Week in the History of the Irish: January12 - January 7

CÉADAOIN -- On January 4, 1781, Irish-born Revolutionary War Gen. James Hogan died in British captivity at Haddrel Point, South Carolina. Hogan (sometimes spelled Hogun) was born in Ireland about 1721 and emigrated to North Carolina about 30 years later. In May 1776, Hogan was appointed a major in the militia of the Edenton and Halifax regions of the Southern state. In November, when North Carolina decided to raise three more regiments for George Washington's Continental Army, James Hogan was appointed colonel of one of them, the 7th North Carolina.

(Left: A depiction of the Siege of Charleston (1780) by Alonzo Chappel.)

Hogan's regiment fought in Pennsylvania at Brandywine and also at Germantown, where Hogan was cited for "distinguished intrepidity." Hogan was sent back to North Carolina to help recruit four new regiments. He returned to Washington's army in August 1778 and was promoted brigadier-general five months later. Hogan served at West Point and as commander of Continental troops in Philadelphia. In November 1779, he was sent south in command of the North Carolina Brigade to the aid of General Charles Lincoln. Lincoln was facing an anticipated British assault at Charleston, South Carolina. The march south, through one of the worst winters ever, was a severe one; Hogan's numbers were reduced by the time he reached Charleston on March 3, 1780. Before the end of the month, British General Clinton's men were besieging the city. The Americans, though outnumbered more than two to one, had a few successes during the siege, one was a trench raid led by Hogan on April 24. But soon they were running low on food and ammunition. At a council of war on May 11, the decision was made to surrender. The surrender the following day was one of the worst American defeats of the war -- more than 2,500 men became British prisoners. The British hastily built a prison on Haddrel's Point to hold the prisoners, but the site was incomplete and conditions were harsh. Generals McIntosh, Lincoln and Scott, and other high-ranking officers accepted parole from the British and departed. But generals Moultrie and Hogan refused, preferring to stay with their men. The British were trying to recruit colonial soldiers to serve them in the West Indies. Hogan feared some of his men might weaken if he departed. He did this in spite of flagging health. As winter set in, Hogan's condition worsened. On January 4, 1781, he passed away and was buried near the prison. Like so many other Irish born soldiers before and after him, James Hogan had given his last full measure of devotion to his adopted country.

DEARDAOIN -- On Jan. 5, 1871, the British in a general amnesty released 30 Fenian prisoners. Most of these prisoners were men who had either been swept up by the British in 1865, when they suppressed the Fenian paper, The Irish People, taken part in the March 1867 rising, or been rounded up after the 'Smashing of the Van' rescue of Kelly and Deasy in September 1867.

(Right: The Cuba Five - John Devoy (far left), standing, Charles Underwood O'Connell, (second from left) seated, Harry Mulleda (center), standing, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, (second from right) seated, and John McClure (far right) )

The British penal system of that time was brutal under normal circumstances, and the Fenians came in for much harsher treatment than the normal inmate did. Those Fenians still on the outside agitated constantly for the release of their comrades. The man most responsible for the release of 1871 was John 'Amnesty' Nolan, who thus earned his sobriquet. The names of many of the men released by William Gladstone's government are well known to those who have studied the Irish Republican movement. One of them was Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, as steadfast an enemy of English rule in Ireland as any who ever lived. After Rossa's death, his body was returned to Ireland for burial, and his funeral in 1915 included the famous eulogy by Patrick Pearse, one of the seminal moments in the renewal of the armed struggle for Irish freedom. Another Fenian released that day was John Devoy, who perhaps more than any other man would keep the struggle for Irish freedom alive among Irish exiles in America. The British government released the Fenians on condition that they exile themselves to the country of their choice and not return until their sentences had expired. Many chose to go to Australia, but Rossa, Devoy, John McClure, Henry Mulleda, and Charles Underwood O'Connell, who had all been imprisoned together, chose to go to America and shipped together from Liverpool on board the Cuba. The so-called Cuba Five arrived in New York to a hero's welcome from the city's large Irish community and even received a resolution of welcome from the U.S. House of Representatives.

SATHAIRN -- On Jan. 7, 1945 Major Thomas McGuire Jr., the second-highest scoring US ace of WWII, and Medal of Honor recipient, crashed his plane and was killed over the Pacific. McGuire was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey on August 1, 1920. He spent most of his childhood in Florida, where he and his mother moved after his parents were divorced.

(Left: Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Jr. (right) with Richard I. Bong.)

McGuire enlisted in the army as an aviation cadet in July 1941 and earned his pilot's wings in February 1942. Sent to Alaska, McGuire bristled at the lack of combat and agitated for transfer to a combat squadron. In December he was sent to California to learn to fly the twin-engine P-38 fighter in which he would earn his fame. In March 1943 he shipped out to the Pacific, joining the 49th Fighter Group. One of the veteran combat pilots in the 49th was Richard Bong, who would be the highest-scoring ace of WWII.

In just his second mission, on August 18, McGuire was credited with shooting down three Japanese planes. On his next mission, on the 21st, he shot down two more, making him an ace after just three missions. In October he was shot down but managed to bail out over the ocean and was rescued by a PT boat.

When he took off from his base in the Philippines on Christmas day 1944, he had thirty-one kills. In the next two days, he shot down seven enemy planes to bring his total to thirty-eight. He was now only two behind Bong, who had been sent home for a fundraising tour. McGuire was anxious to pass him

On an early morning of January 7th McGuire led a flight of four P-38s over Japanese airbases on Negros Island. While pulling a sharp left turn toward a Japanese fighter his plane stalled and he crashed. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his seven kills in two days in December. McGuire Air Force base in New Jersey is named after him.

To learn more about this WWII hero, read: The Last Great Ace : The Life of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.


'All day long …. Sweeny's Hotel and the approaches to it were the scene of the most lively excitement, caused by the congregation of numerous sympathizers. The green flag was flying from the highest flagstaff on the roof of the hotel.'
-- The New York Herald describing the excitement created by the arrival of the Cuba Five in New York in January 1871.

"With gallant initiative, deep and unselfish concern for the safety of others, and heroic determination to destroy the enemy at all costs, Major McGuire set an inspiring example in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service."
        -- From the Medal of Honor citation for Major Thomas McGuire

January - Eanáir


1, 1818 - William Gamble (Union General - Co. Tyrone)
1, 1883 - William "Wild Bill" Donovan (Medal of Honor winner, head of the OSS - Buffalo, NY)
4, 1581
- James Ussher (Scholar and Archbishop of Armagh - Dublin)
6, 1794 - Frances Ball (Mother Mary Teresa - Founder of the Sisters of Loretto - Dublin)
6, 1898 - Colonel James Fitzmaurice (Aviator - Dublin)
7, 1861 - Louise Guiney (Poet, literary historian - Roxbury, MA.)


1, 1776 - Irish-born General Richard Montgmery of the Continental Army is killed at the Battle of Quebec.
1, 1801 - Act of Union - Ireland and Great Britain form United Kingdom
1, 1892 - Ellis Island becomes reception center for new immigrants (The first immigrant through the gates is Annie Moore, 15, of Co. Cork.)
1, 1921 – The South Monaghan Flying Column ambushes a 4 man RIC patrol in Ballybay. One constable was killed and three were wounded.
1, 1957 - Sean South and Feargal O'Hanlon killed during an attack on an RUC Barracks in the County Fermanagh village of Brookeborough.
2, 1602
 - Spanish force in Ireland surrender to the English at Kinsale.
2, 1743 - William O'Shaughnessy, general in the French army, dies at Gravelines.
2, 1794 - William Bulkely, officer in the Irish Brigade of France, is guillotined during the French Revolution.
2, 1920 – The 1st Cork Brigade Irish Volunteers from Midleton and Cobh capture the RIC barracks at Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork (it was the first RIC barracks captured during the Irish War of Independence).
2, 1920 - The Black and Tans are formed.
3, 1946
- Nazi broadcaster William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) is executed by Great Britain.
3, 1966 - Marguerite Higgins, journalist and war correspondent, dies.
4, 1781 - Irish born U.S. Revolutionary War Gen. James Hogan dies in British captivity.
4, 1792 - First issue of Northern Star, organ of United Irishmen published in Belfast.
4, 1909 - The Irish Transport and General Workers' Union is founded by James Larkin and William X. O'Brien.
4, 1918 – Irish Volunteers in Donegal rush a train at Meenbanad and free two prisoners.
4, 1925Cork native Nellie Cashman: Frontier Angel, gold miner, and pioneer of the American West, dies of pneumonia in Victoria, British Columbia.
4, 1969 - Civil rights marchers attacked at Burntollet Bridge, NI.
5, 1777 - Irish-born Stephen Moylan is appointed colonel in the Continental Army.
5, 1871 - 30 Fenian prisoners are released by the British in a general amnesty.
5, 1885 - Hugh O'Brien is sworn in as Boston first Irish mayor.
6,  XXXX - "Women's Christmas" (Nollaig na mBan)
6, 1562 - Shane O'Neill submits to Queen Elizabeth, but rebels again within months.
6, 1653 – English law declares any Roman Catholic priest found in Ireland to be guilty of treason.
6, 1946 - Nazi broadcaster William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) is executed by England.
6, 1968 – Patrick Henry Brady (Medal of Honor) rescues 51 soldiers under heavy enemy fire near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam.
7, 1922 - Anglo-Irish treaty approved by Dail Eireann.
7, 1945 - Major Thomas McGuire, the second highest scoring US ace of WWII, and Medal of Honor awardee, is shot down and killed over the Pacific.

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Tags: Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, Oceania, On This Day, United States


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