This Week in the History of the Irish: March 29 - April 4

LUAIN -- On March 30, 1873, Richard Church (left), of County Cork, soldier, sometimes called the "liberator of Greece," died in Athens. Church was born in Cork in 1784. As a young man, he ran off to join the British army. As ensign in the 13th (Somersetshire) Light Infantry he served in Egypt then in Italy, where he met many exiled Greek leaders. After the Napoleonic wars, he became a champion for the cause of Greek independence, unsuccessfully arguing their cause before the allied leaders at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. He would join those Greek leaders in the revolution in 1821 and became commander-in-chief of their western army. In 1829, Church resigned his command because he opposed the government of Count Kapodístrias. After the success of the revolt, Church remained in Greece, becoming a member of the Council of State and inspector general. Richard Church lived out the rest of his days in his adopted land. He was given a public funeral and a public monument was later erected to him.

CÉADAOIN -- On April 1, 1776, Irish-born Edward Hand (right) was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army. Hand first came to the colonies as a surgeon's mate and later an ensign in the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of the British army. In 1774, he resigned from the army and settled in Philadelphia, practicing medicine there. When the revolution became he was made a lieutenant colonel in William Thompson's Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion and served with them during the siege of Boston. In January '77, he was promoted to colonel and put in command of Thompson's battalion, renamed the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. He and his men, who had quickly gained a reputation for great marksmanship, performed well in the actions on Long Island, helping in the rear-guard action that saved Washington's army from near destruction. In April, Washington convinced Congress to promote Hand to brigadier general. Hand would spend the next several years in action against Indians on the western frontier before returning to Washington's army in 1780. Hand served during the British Raid on Springfield, N.J., in June and then in August, he was given command of a brigade. In January 1781, Hand was promoted to adjutant general of the Continental Army, a post he held until November 1783. He was breveted to major general in September '83. Hand left the army in November and returned to his medical practice. He later served as a congressman representing a district in Pennsylvania. Hand died of a stroke in 1802. He is buried in St. James's Episcopal Cemetery, Lancaster, PA.

AOINE -- Beginning on April 3 and continuing to May 8, 1781, the Irish Hibernia regiment of Spain helped lay siege to British forces in Pensacola, Florida, during the American Revolution. Irishmen had been serving in the Spanish army for well over 150 years and the Hibernia regiment had existed since 1709. Approximately 508 officers and men of the Hibernia regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. Arturo O'Neil, were in the Spanish force commanded by Gen. Bernardo Galvez at Pensacola.

(Left: Two soldiers of the Hibernia regiment.)

The British put up a spirited defense, including a number of sorties out of their fortifications, and the Hibernia regiment bore the brunt of some of them. Capt. Hugo O'Connor and Lt. Timotheo O'Dunn were captured during one sortie. But on May 8, a Spanish grenade flew over the walls of the fort and directly into the powder magazine, signaling the end of English resistance. Gen. Galvez demonstrated his pleasure with the performance of the Hibernia regiment by promoting O'Neil to full colonel and appointing him governor of the newly captured territory.

VOICES

"Richard Church, General, who, having given himself and all that he had to rescue a Christian race from oppression and to make Greece a nation, lived for her service and died amongst her people, rests here in peace and faith.”
         
-- From the tombstone of Richard Church in Athens.

March - Márta

BIRTHS

30, 1880 - Sean O'Casey (Author - Dublin)
31, 1840 - John H. Kelly (Confederate Gen - Pineapple, Pickens County, Alabama)
31, 1871
 - Arthur Griffith (Politician - Dublin)

April - Aibreán

1, 1743 – Richard Butler (Revolutionary War General - St. Bridget's Parish, Dublin)
1, 1839 - St. Clair Mulholland (Union Civil War General and Medal of Honor winner - Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Ireland)
1, 1848 - Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Sculptor - Dublin, Ireland.)
3, 1843 - James D. Brady (Civil War officer in the 63rd NY, Irish Brigade - Portsmouth, VA.)
4, 1818 – Thomas Mayne Reid (Author - Katesbridge, Co. Down)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

29, 1784 - Irish born Count James Robert Nugent, Field Marshal in the Austrian army, dies in Prague.
30, 1798
 - Privy Council proclaims declaring Ireland in state of rebellion and imposes martial law.
30, 1873 - Richard Church, of Co. Cork, soldier,"liberator of Greece" dies in Athens.
30, 1921-Tom Barry and the Cork Flying Column destroy the RIC barracks at Rosscarbery, Co. Cork during the Irish War of Independence.
31, 1914 - Timothy D Sullivan of Bantry Co Cork, who wrote "God Save Ireland," dies.

April - Aibreán

1, 1776 - Irish-born Edward Hand is appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
1, 1919 - Eamonn de Valera elected President of Irish Republic by Dail Eireann.
1, 1865 - Gen. Phil Sheridan wins the decisive battle of Five Forks, VA, forcing Lee to evacuate Petersburg. - U.S. Civil War.
2, 1914 - Cumann na mBan is formed in Dublin as an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers.
2, 1973 - Special Powers Act replaced by Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act
3 - to 8 May, 1781- Hibernia regiment of Spain helps lay siege to Pensacola, Fla., during the American Revolution
4, 1864 -
 Gen. Phil Sheridan appointed chief of cavalry for the Army of the Potomac - U.S. Civil War.

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Tags: Europe, Military History, On This Day, United States

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