This Week in the History of the Irish: June 9 - June 15

DOMHNAIGH -- On June 9, 1798, Col. Chetwynd-Stapylton and a detachment of the York Fencibles rode into the town of Saintfield, County Down, and straight into a force of United Irishmen who had earlier occupied the town. The United Irishmen attacked the Fencibles, killing several of them and driving them off. Among the dead was the colonel's cousin, Capt. William Chetwynd.

(Right: National Army Museum, London: Lieutenant General Sir George Nugent)

This success encouraged the United Irishmen in the county and brought new men into the field, but this small action would prove to be the lone victory of the rebel forces in Ulster. Even as the rebels celebrated this small success, General George Nugent, commander of British forces in the North, was collecting his forces and planning his counterattack against them.

U.S. Military History Institute
Pvt. Reddick W. Sibley, Company A, 6th Louisiana Infantry

DOMHNAIGH -- On June 9, 1862, as part of "Stonewall" Jackson's "Valley Campaign," the Irish 6th Louisiana fought in the battle of Port Republic, Virginia. Port Republic and nearby Cross Keys were attacked on June 8, but the 6th Louisiana was not engaged. The attacks on Cross Keys on the 8th, by a large force under General John Fremont, were called "feeble in the extreme" by Confederate Brig. Gen. Richard Taylor, commander of the Louisiana Brigade, which included the 6th Louisiana. The attack on the Confederates at Port Republic on the 8th had been made by 150 troopers riding in front of Brigadier General James Shield's larger Federal force. The attack on Port Republic on the 9th, however, would be neither small nor feeble. General Shields, a native of County Tyrone, would prove a more dangerous foe than Fremont the day before, especially for the Louisiana Brigade. As the brigade arrived on the field, the Confederates were outnumbered and Shields' men were advancing. Jackson sent the brigade to attack a strong Union artillery position, which dominated the battlefield from the high ground. While the brigade was advancing on the artillery position, the Union advance in the lowlands swept through the outnumbered Confederates there. The prospects for a Confederate victory appeared slim as Taylor ordered the brigade to advance uphill through the woods on the Federal guns. As the Confederates burst out of the woods on the surprised Federals, the 6th Louisiana was in the most exposed position on the Rebel left and received a destructive fire from the Federal cannon and from the 66th Ohio, which was posted near the guns. The fighting around the guns was soon hand to hand. The Confederates finally wrested the guns from the Federals but were immediately counterattacked. The fighting again became hand to hand, before the Federal attack was beaten back. But the determined Union troops advanced again, and drove the Confederate off the guns and back into the woods. Taylor reformed his disorganized brigade around the 6th Louisiana's colors and attacked the guns again and retook them, only to be driven off them once again by a Federal counterattack. Reinforced now by parts of the 44th and 58th Virginia, the Confederates advanced on the guns a third time, finally taking them for good. The elation of the 6th was tempered by the regiment's losses. The regiment had suffered 23 men killed, 12 of whom listed Ireland as their place of birth, and 55 wounded. It was the highest number of men killed that the 6th suffered in any single battle.

CÉADAOIN -- On June 12, 1844, Januarius A. MacGahan, war correspondent, was born near New Lexington, Ohio. MacGahon's father was a native of County Derry. Januarius was an excellent student and became a teacher and then moved to St. Louis and was hired as a newspaper reporter. In 1868 he traveled to Europe to study European languages but ended up covering the Franco-Prussian war for the New York Herald. Later he had numerous adventures while covering various stories all over the world. The crowning achievement of his life was his coverage of Turkish atrocities against the people of Bulgaria in 1876. His reports of the mass slaughters of innocent Bulgarians caused a sensation around the world and caused the Russians to intervene on the Bulgarian side. MacGahan accompanied the Russian army into Bulgaria.

(Right: Januarius A. MacGahan is on the left. The other man is unidentified, and is perhaps another correspondent.)

The Turks were soon beaten and MacGahan followed the Russian army into Constantinople. There he fell sick with typhus and died on June 9, 1878, three days short of this 34th birthday. His stories had had such an influence that some consider him one of the liberators of Bulgaria. For many years the Bulgarians would commemorate his death with an annual Requiem Mass at Tirnova. In 1883 Januarius A. MacGahan's body was brought home to Ohio and reinterred in his hometown of New Lexington.

Read Januarious MacGahan's full story HERE.

AOINE -- On June 14, 1690, William of Orange, King of Holland, and recently declared King of England, arrived in Belfast with his fleet. The Catholic King James II had been tolerated by the Protestant nobility for a time because all his possible heirs were Protestant. But when James' wife gave birth to a son all that changed. Unable to face the prospect of another Catholic on the throne, they invited William of Orange, who was married to James' daughter Mary, to assume the British throne. As James' and William's armies prepared to meet, William had a formidable force with him, over 40 pieces of artillery and more that 1,000 horses; his army would number over 36,000 when fully gathered. James' army would be inferior in men and firepower. The fate of the crown of Great Britain would now be decided on the fields of Ireland.


'Men ceased to be men. They cheered and screamed like lunatics -- they fought like demons -- they died like fanatics.' 
       -- From a newspaper account of the battle of Port Republic (map of the battle right - click for larger view.)

'It was a sickening sight. Men in gray and those in blue piled up in front of and around the guns and with horses dying and the blood of men and beasts flowing almost in a stream.' 
       -- A witness to the carnage around the Federal guns taken by the 6th Louisiana and the rest of the Louisiana Brigade at the Battle of Port Republic

'Regarded simply on its merits, there is nothing I know of to excel it in vividness, in pathos, in a burning earnestness, in a glow of conviction that fires from heart to heart. The man whose voice rang out clear through the nations with its burden of wrongs and shame and deviltry, was no illustrious statesman, no famed litterateur, but just this young American from off the little farm in Perry County, Ohio.' 
         -- British war correspondent Archibald Forbes speaking of Nanuarius MacGahan and his reports from Bulgaria


June -- Meitheamh

10, 1788 - James Francis Stuart (James III - The Old Pretender - London)
12, 1844 -
Januarius A. MacGahan (War correspondent, "Liberator" of Bulgaria -  Pigeon Roost Ridge, Ohio.)

13, 1808
 - Edme Patrice MacMahon, Duke of Magenta (General, and President of French Republic - Autun, Burgundy, France.)
13, 1865 -
 William Butler Yeats (Author - Dublin)
15, 1698
 - George Browne (Soldier of fortune - Camas, Co. Limerick.)


9, 1798 - Battle of Arklow
9, 1798 - Battle of Saintfield.
9, 1862 - The Irish 6th Louisiana fights in the battle of Port Republic, VA.
9, 1916The first of nearly 2,000 Irish Volunteer prisoners from the Easter... arrive at Frongoch prison in Wales.
10, 1996 - Sen. George Mitchell begins NI talks with Sinn Fein, still barred by lack of IRA cease-fire.

11, 1522
 - O'Donnell stronghold Ballyshannon captured and burned by Con Bacach O'Neill.

12, 1775
 - Jeremiah O’Brien captures the HMS Margaretta, the first such capture by Americans.
12-13, 1798 - Battle of Ballynahinch
12, 1864 - Cavan Co. native Col. Richard Byrnes dies of wounds suffered at the Battle of Cold Harbor.

13, 1795 
- Theobald Wolfe Tone embarks at Belfast for US.
14, 1690
 - William of Orange arrives in Ireland
15, 1851 - Bryan Mullandanphy, Judge and Mayor of St. Louis, dies of cholera.

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Tags: American Civil War, Europe, History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day


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