This Week in the History of the Irish: July 19 - July 25

DOMHNAIGH -- On July 19, 1798, after months of begging and cajoling by Theobald Wolfe Tone, the French Directory finally authorized the sending of French troops to Ireland to aid the rising there. Since the death of his friend, Gen. Hoche, the previous September, Tone had lost some of his influence with the French. Tone and others must have known the chances for success had probably slipped away through endless delays; most of the members of the United Irishmen had already risen up and been defeated. Napoleon had set sail on his Egyptian adventure -- he would later admit he should have gone to Ireland instead. A plan was devised to send small numbers of French soldiers in numerous expeditions and help prop up the Irish resistance, which in truth, even then was nearly crushed. Gen. Jean-Joseph Humbert (left) would command the first French force of some 1,100 men.

LUAIN -- On July 20, 1866, at the battle of Lissa (depicted left by Eduard Nezbeda, 1911) in the Adriatic, an Austrian fleet defeated a numerically superior Italian fleet. Commanding one of the Austrian ships was Irishman Alfred Barry. Alfred, whose brother, Richard, was also an officer in the Austrian navy, was one of the greatest admirals in Austrian naval history. At Lissa, with the Italian fleet in a line formation, Austrian commander Admiral Count Wilhelm von Tegetthoff formed his ships in a wedge and drove them right through the Italians. Barry was commanding the Prinz Eugen on the right side of the formation, as they split the Italians Barry's ship was hit 21 times but he continued on, doffing his cap and making a showy bow to the captain of one of the Italian ships as they passed closely by. The Italians lost 3 ships and retreated, lifting the naval siege of Lissa. Barry was honored by Tegetthoff after the victory. Barry later helped build the Austrian navy into one of the world's best. He died in 1907 and is buried in Pula.

MÁIRT -- On July 21, 1861, at the battle of 1st Bull Run, the first major engagement of the American Civil War, the Irish 69th New York State Militia fought under the green flag of Erin and the Stars and Stripes for the first time.

(Left: Picture courtesy of Lt. Col. Ken Powers
The Prince of Wales Flag, the regimental color carried by the 69th New York State Militia at 1st Bull Run.)

The unit was in a brigade commanded by Col. William T. Sherman, whose name is now one of the most well known of the war. He was not, however, well-loved by the 69th New York. The Union army suffered an ignominious defeat that day, but the 69th would be among a handful of Union regiments that performed well during the battle. Held in reserve at first, the 69th soon advanced and routed the 4th Alabama. But when the brigade met stiffer opposition, Sherman attacked with one regiment at a time, wasting his numbers. Rebel reinforcements from the Shenandoah Valley now turned the tide of the battle, and the Federal army was routed. One of the last regiments off the field, the 69th lost 38 men killed that day, the first being Capt. James Haggerty, from Donegal, and 59 wounded; 95 were headed to Confederate prison camps, including its Sligo-born colonel, Michael Corcoran. One of the last men off the field was Waterford's Thomas Francis Meagher, captain of Company K, who eventually swam the last yards to safety across Bull Run creek. It was a rough beginning, but the regiment had begun a storied history that would soon have them earn the sobriquet "Fighting 69th.

CÉADAOIN -- On July 22, 1864, the Irish 10th Tennessee of Hood's Confederate Army in Decatur, Georgia, was engaged in a portion of the Battle of Atlanta. The small remnant of the regiment was part of Gen. Bates' division of Hardee's Corps, which was attempting to flank McPherson's Federal corps. The 10th was fighting the Federal division of a fellow Irishman, one-armed Mexican war veteran 'Fighting' Tom Sweeny that day. The flanking maneuver failed; Hardee was repulsed with heavy losses. The 10th suffered 2 killed and 7 wounded at Decatur; as they retreated to southwestern Atlanta they had just 53 soldiers still answering the call, not even a full company left of the 725 who had filled the ranks at Fort Donelson just over two years earlier.

VOICES 

Oh, the boys of the Sixty-ninth, they are a gallant band,
Bolder never drew a sword for their adopted land;
Amongst the fallen heroes, a braver had not been,
Than you lamented Haggerty, of Erin's isle of green.
         -- A lyric from "Boys That Wore the Green" by William Woodburn. Recorded by David Kincaid on his CD "The Irish Volunteer"

About enough for another killin.'
         -- Confederate soldier during the fighting in Georgia in reply to a Union soldier asking, 'How many men have you fellows got left?' – July 1864

BIRTHS

July -- Iúil

19, 1922 - George McGovern (Senator, WWII bomber pilot - Avon, S. Dakota)
20, 1822 - Fr Peter Cooney CSC(Chaplain of the 35th Indiana during the American Civil War – Co. Roscommon)
22, 1860 - Johanna Butler (Mother Marie Joseph - Founder of Marymount schools and colleges - Ballynunnery, Co. Kilkenny)
25, 1809 - John O'Donovan (Gaelic Scholar - Atateemore, Co. Kilkenny)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

19, 1798 - French Directory authorizes the sending of three expeditions to Ireland and gives command of the first one to Gen. Humbert.
20, 1616 - Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, dies in Rome.
20, 1864 - Young Irelander John Mitchel's son, Confederate Capt. John C. Mitchel, is killed during a Union bombardment of Ft. Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. His brother, Willie, was killed a year earlier at Gettysburg.
20, 1866 - The Austrian fleet, including the ship of Alfred Barry, defeats the Italian fleet at the battle of Lissa.
21, 1650 - Henry O'Neill, son of Owen Roe O'Neill, executed by the English Parliamentarians after the Battle of Scarrifholis
21, 1972 - 'Bloody Friday,' IRA bombs kill 9 in Belfast.
21, 1691 – Galway city surrenders to Williamites.
21, 1747 - Irish Brigade of France fights at the battle of Lauffeld.
21, 1861 - Battle of 1st Bull Run (Virginia) - The 69th New York State Militia is one of the last organized Federal units to leave the field.
22, 1864 - The 10th Tennessee (Confederate-Irish) fights at the battle of Atlanta.
22, 1922 - Limerick taken by Free State army after fierce fighting with IRA.
23, 1803 - Small rising in Dublin is led by Robert Emmet.
25, 1690 - Waterford surrenders to the Williamites.
25, 1745 - “Bonnie” Prince Charlie and his Irish advisers arrive in Scotland to begin his Jacobite rising.
25, 1917 - British government organizes an "Irish Convention" on Home Rule, Sinn Fein does not attend.

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

Comment by Liam McAlister on July 19, 2020 at 7:15am

Captain John C Mitchel was died in July 1864, not 1863 as stated above.

Comment by The Wild Geese on July 19, 2020 at 7:31pm

You're right, Liam. Corrected it.

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