This Week in the History of the Irish: March 31 - April 1

LUAIN -- 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 began, 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.

CÉADAOIN - 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.

AOINE - On April 5, 1818, Bernardo O'Higgins (right) 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.

March - Márta


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)


31, 1867 – Fenians attacked by Crown Forces in Kilclooney Wood, County Limerick.
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, 1914 - Inaugural meeting of the Cumann na mBan is held at Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin.
5, 1916 - Patrick Pearse denies rumors of a possible rising to Irish Volunteer Chief of Staff Eoin MacNeill.
6-7, 1862 -Irish-born Confederate Gen. Patrick Cleburne commands a brigade at battle of Shiloh, TN.
6, 1916 - In Berlin, Roger Casement receives instructions for the delivery of munitions for the Easter Rising.
6, 1954 - Display of Irish tricolor banned in Northern Ireland.

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Tags: Americas, Europe, Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day, United States


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