This Week in the History of the Irish: March 30 - April 5

DOMHNAIGH -- On March 30, 1873, Richard Church (right), 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, serving in Egypt then and 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. 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.

Compiled and drawn by Colonel Carrington
A battle map showing the advanced position of Edward Hand's 1st Pennsylvania at Denyse Point and the regiment's retreat to Prospect Hill just before the Battle of Long Island.

LUAIN -- On April 1, 1776, Irish-born Edward Hand 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 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.

James McCudden

 DEARDAOIN -- On April 3, 1891, James McCudden, World War I ace with 57 enemy planes shot down, was born in Kent, England, of an Irish father and an English mother.

McCudden's father was a warrant officer in the Royal Engineers and at the age of 14 young James joined them as a bugler. In 1913 James transferred to the fledgling Royal Flying Corps as a mechanic. Moving to France with No. 3 squadron in 1914, McCudden became an observer and soon went back to England and trained as a pilot. He returned to France with No. 29 squadron in 1916 and gained a reputation as a skilled tactician and marksman in the air. "Old Mac," as his men called him, later proved an excellent squadron leader, losing only 4 planes compared to 70 destroyed by his command. By 1918, McCudden had shot down 57 enemy planes and won the Victoria Cross. On July 9, 1918, while returning from England, the engine of his SE-5 cut out. Major James McCudden, the fifth-highest scoring allied pilot of the war, was killed as his plane spun into the earth.

Two soldiers of the Hibernia regiment, 1802. These uniforms differed somewhat from those they would have worn at Pensacola.

DEARDAOIN -- 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. 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.

AOINE -- On April 5, 1818, Bernardo O'Higgins defeated the Spanish at the battle of Maipo River, Chile. Bernardo's mother was Chilean and his father was Ambrose O'Higgins of Co. Meath, a brigadier general of Chile and Viceroy of Peru. With his friend and fellow revolutionary, José de San Martín, O'Higgins was struggling to liberate Chile from Spanish domination. O'Higgins had suffered a painful wound in his right arm several days earlier during a defeat at Cancha Rayada, but facing a crisis, he remained with his command. As the royalist army approached, many in the rebel camps urged retreat. "No, I'll stay here," he replied. "If the enemy attacks, I shall die at my post." His defiant spirit boosted the morale of the Chilean rebels. On the clear, bright day of April 5, 1818, the royalists attacked, but the rebel army routed them near the village of El Espejo, on the Maipo River. The royalist army suffered some 1,500 killed and 2,300 captured of 4,500 engaged. With their overwhelming victory, San Martín and O'Higgins and their rebel army had liberated Chile.


"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.

"This officer is considered, by the record he has made, by his fearlessness, and by the great service which he has rendered to his country, deserving of the very highest honor."
           -- The London Gazette on McCudden's Victoria Cross award.

March - Márta


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.)
3, 1891 - James McCudden (WWI ace with 57 enemy plane shot down - Kent, England - Irish father)
4, 1818 – Thomas Mayne Reid (Author - Katesbridge, Co. Down)


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.
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.
5, 1818 - Bernardo O'Higgins defeats the Spanish at the battle of Maipo River, Chile
5, 1916 - Patrick Pearse denies rumors of a possible rising to Irish Volunteer Chief of Staff Eoin MacNeill.

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Tags: Europe, History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day, United States


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