This Week in the History of the Irish: March 1 - March 7

From Wikipedia
Statue of Andrew Lewis, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

DOMHNAIGH -- On March 1, 1776, Irish-born Andrew Lewis was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army. Andrew's father's reportedly fled to the colonies after killing his landlord in self-defense. The family settled in Virginia. Given their father's history in Ireland, it is not surprising that two of the Lewis brothers would fight in the revolutionary army. Andrew's brother William would rise from lieutenant to major before being captured in 1780. Andrew's military career predated the Revolution. He served with Washington during the French and Indian War, seeing extensive action after that with Braddock. Andrew was captured by the French in 1758 and sent to Montreal. After the war, he saw action against the Indians on the Virginia frontier during Dunmore's War. Another brother, Charles, was killed under Andrew's command during that war. Lewis' military experience led to his promotion to brigadier general in 1776. In July of that year, he helped drive British Governor Dunmore from Virginia. Ironically, this was the same man who gave his name to the war in which Lewis had earlier fought. Lewis took umbrage at his passing over for promotion in the years that followed. His old friend from the French and Indian War, George Washington, tried to console him, but Lewis resigned April 15, 1777, citing "ill health." Lewis remained in the Virginia militia, and died in 1781.

Currier and Ives
Robert Emmet stands defiant before the judge at his trial.

CÉADAOIN -- On March 4, 1778, Robert Emmet, one of the most famous revolutionaries in Irish history, was born in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. The Emmets were a prosperous Protestant family; Robert's father was a physician. Robert attended Trinity College Dublin in the 1790s and there became involved with the United Irishmen. He quit the college in 1798 when students were forced to take a loyalty oath. In 1799 he traveled to France, where his brother, Thomas, exiled for his United Irish activities, joined him in 1802. Returning to Dublin that year, he began to organize another rising. With so many of the leaders dead or exiled, his plan had little chance of success, but on July 23, 1803, his small group rose up. Word never got to rebel leader Michael Dwyer in the Wicklow hills and the rising failed. Emmet might have escaped, but he would not go without his love, Sarah Curren, and this proved fatal. He was captured on August 25. Emmet had little hope of acquittal, and his lawyer is now known to have been a paid agent of Dublin Castle. He was found guilty and was hung on Thomas Street on September 20, 1803. His head was severed on the scaffold minutes after the hanging and held up to the crowd as "the head of Robert Emmet, a traitor." Though they had killed the man, in his trial they had given the fiery Emmet a rostrum, and long after his death his famous words live on.

Robert Emmet's Speech From The Dock Of The Court 19 September 1803

AOINE -- On March 6, 1831, Philip Sheridan, one of the greatest Union generals on the American Civil War, was born. We know he was the son of Irish immigrants, but his place of birth is uncertain, with Albany, New York; somewhere in Ohio; at sea; and County Cavan, Ireland, all rumored as his birthplace. Less uncertain is his place among Union generals; he was one of the finest of the war. Sheridan had an undistinguished pre-war Army career, which came on the heels of a stormy career at West Point, from which he was nearly expelled for fighting with a fellow cadet.

Library of Congress
Phil Sheridan and his staff in the field.


After eight years in the Army, the diminutive Sheridan -- 5'5" -- was only a 2nd lieutenant when the Civil War began. He languished as a supply officer for the first year of the war. It seemed Phil Sheridan was destined for obscurity, but suddenly that destiny took a turn. On May 25, 1862, he was appointed colonel of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry. By September Sheridan was a brigadier general; in March '63 he made major general. The brilliant assault of his command on Missionary Ridge brought him to the attention of U.S. Grant. In spring 1864, Grant brought Sheridan to Washington and put him in charge of all the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. In the East he showed the same aggressiveness he had in the West, seeking confrontations with Stuart's cavalry. His troopers killed Confederate cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart at Yellow Ford in May. Later that year Grant gave the 33-year-old Sheridan an independent command in the Shenandoah Valley. There Sheridan made his famous ride to the battlefield of Cedar Creek, saving his imperiled army. Returning to Grant's army, Sheridan was instrumental in the victory at Five Forks, which sealed the fate of Richmond, and later he cut off Lee's retreat at Appomattox. After the war he rose to full general and commanded the entire army. Philip Sheridan died on August 5, 1888, in Nonquitt, Massachusetts, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Read more about the life of Sheridan: Scrappy Phil Sheridan - The U.S. Army's Little Big Man

"Sheridan's Ride" famous Civil War poem by Thomas Buchanan

SATHAIRN -- On March 7, 1921, Limerick Mayor George Clancy was shot and killed in his home. Clancy came from a family with a strong republican tradition. In college, he joined the Gaelic League, forming a branch at University College Dublin and recruiting other students to join. Among those others were Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Tomás MacCurtain, Terence MacSwiney, and James Joyce. It is said that Clancy was the model for the character of Davin in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. After college, Clancy taught Irish at Clongowes Wood, a college administered by the Jesuits, and was active in the Gaelic Athletic Association. Clancy helped in Eamon de Valera's election campaign in East Clare. He nearly died of swine flu during the 1918 epidemic but recovered and in January 1921 he was elected Mayor of Limerick. Though Clancy took no active part in the violence of the War of Independence, on the morning of March 7, 1921, masked men burst into his home and shot him dead. Suspicion immediately fell upon members of the Black and Tans, but a British inquiry into the murder, like most such inquiries through the years, absolved Crown forces of any blame.

VOICES

"I am here ready to die. I am not allowed to vindicate my character; no man shall dare to vindicate my character; and when I am prevented from vindicating myself, let no man dare to calumniate me. Let my character and my motives repose in obscurity and peace, till other times and other men can do them justice. Then shall my character be vindicated; then may my epitaph be written."
-- The closing of Robert Emmet's epitaph.

"You will find him big enough for the purpose before we get through with him."
-- Ulysses Grant to a staff officer who though Phil Sheridan was to small to lead the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac.

"Did Sherican say that? He usually knows what he is talking about. Let him go ahead and do it."
-- Ulysses Grant to Gen. George Meade, after Meade said Sheridan had insisted his troopers could beat Jeb Stuart if given a chance.

March - Márta

BIRTHS

1, 1848 - Augustus St. Guadens (Sculptor - Dublin)
4, 1778
- Robert Emmet (Revolutionary - Dublin)
4, 1898 - General Emmet Dalton (Revolutionary, aide to Michael Collins.)
6, 1751, Edward Marcus Despard (Colonel in the British army and revolutionary, Mountrath, Co. Laois)
6, 1791 - John MacHale (Archbishop of Tuam - Tirawley, Co. Mayo.)
6, 1831 - Philip Sheridan(Union General - son of Irish immigrants rumored to have been born in Ireland.)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

1, 1776 - Irish-born Andrew Lewis is appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army
1, 1586 - Clanowen Castle, Co. Clare is captured from Mahon O'Brien by Sir Richard Bingham.
1, 1776 - Irish-born John Armstrong is appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
1, 1776 - Irish-born William Thompson is appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
1, 1794 - Statutes of Dublin University amended to allow Catholics to take degrees.
1, 1965 - Roger Casement's body re-interred in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.
1, 1981 - Bobby Sands begins his hunger strike at Long Kesh prison
4, 1704
- Penal Laws passed in 1695 restricting Catholic civil rights strengthened
4, 1804 - In Australia former United Irishmen stage a small insurrection.
4, 1902 - Ancient Order of Hibernians in Ireland revived at unity council.
5, 1779 - Boston Massacre, 5 killed, including Irish immigrant Patrick Carr.
5, 1867 - Fenian Rising in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary Counties.
6-19, 1924 - Reduction of the Irish Army by 20,000 at the end of the Civil War nearly causes a mutiny.
7, 1921 - Limerick Mayor George Clancy shot and killed in his home by disguised members of the Black and Tans.

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

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