This Week in the History of the Irish: July 21 - July 27

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.

DOMHAIGH -- 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. 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.

LUAIN -- 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. That day, 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.

The seal of the state of New York

AOINE -- On July 26, 1739, George Clinton, soldier, first governor of New York, and vice president of the United States, was born in Little Britain, N.Y., of Irish Protestant parents. Clinton served in his father's New York state militia unit during the French and Indian War before being elected to the New York provincial assembly in 1768. Clinton became one of the leaders of the American colony's revolutionary movement when he served in the Second Continental Congress. Washington appointed him to command the defenses of the Hudson River highlands before the Declaration of Independence was signed; thus Clinton lost his opportunity to be one of the signers. Clinton did not display any great skill in command of large bodies of troops -- his real skill would prove to be in the political arena, though he would attain a brevet rank of major general in Washington's army . In April 1777, Clinton was elected the first governor of New York State, thus gaining the sobriquet "The Father of New York State." Historians widely praise him for his skill in maintaining support for the revolution in that key state through the several difficult years that followed. Clinton served six consecutive terms as governor, through 1795, and then returned for a seventh term in 1800. In 1804, he was elected vice president under Thomas Jefferson and then served in the post again under James Madison. George Clinton died while still holding that office on April 20, 1812. He is buried in Old Dutch Churchyard in Kingston, N.Y.

Mrs. Erskine Childers and Mary Spring-Rice on the Asgard, July 1914.

AOINE -- On July 26, 1914, Erskine Childers sailed his yacht, the Asgard, into the port of Howth, in Dublin with 900 German rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition on board. Planned by Childers and the leaders of the Irish Volunteers, the shipment was in response to the Larne gun running of the Ulster Volunteers in the north three months earlier. Later that day the Volunteers were confronted by a British regiment on the Bachelors Walk in Dublin. While Irish Volunteer leaders held negotiations with the assistant police commissioner, the guns were dispersed by the Volunteers. Shortly after this the soldiers -- claiming they were provoked -- fired a volley into the gathered crowds, killing three. This incident was another step in radicalizing many Irish nationalists, especially since those responsible for the much larger Larne operation (35,000 guns, 5 million rounds) had not been bothered by the government. Through its tacit approval of the arming of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteers, the British government had put the gun firmly into the politics of Ireland, a decision its leaders must regret to this day.


Currier & Ives
Michael Corcoran leading the 69th into battle.

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

' ... men rushed to the quay-side reaching for the cases and were in danger of being pushed into the water by the press of those behind. Only the severest of the [Volunteer] officers succeeded in holding their companies in place.' '
         -- Erskine Childers on the confused scene at Howth, July 26, 1914


July -- Iúil

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)
26, 1739 - George Clinton, ("Father of New York State" - Little Britain, New York)
26, 1856 - George Bernard Shaw (Author/Playwright - Dublin)
27, 1830 - John O'Leary (Fenian - Tipperary.)



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.
21, 1972 - 'Bloody Friday,' IRA bombs kill 9 in Belfast.
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 led by Robert Emmet.
25, 1917 - British government organizes an "Irish Convention" on Home Rule, Sinn Fein does not attend.
26, 1856 - Church of Ireland (Anglican) disestablished as state religion by Irish Church Act.
26, 1914 - Erskine Childer's yacht, Asgard, successully lands arms at Howth, County Dublin.

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Tags: 10th TN, 10th Tennessee, 1st Bull Run, 69th NY, American Civil War, Battle of Atlanta, Erskine Childers, George Clinton, Irish Freedom Struggle, Irish Volunteers, More…On This Day, Revolutionary War


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