This Week in the History of the Irish: November 13 - November 19

CÉADAOIN -- On Nov. 16, 1814, Michael Kelly Lawler, general in the Union army during the American Civil War, was born in County Kildare, Ireland. Lawler emigrated to the United States with his family at just 2 years of age. His family moved from New York to Maryland, and finally to Gallatin County, Ill., where they settled. Michael married the daughter of a large landowner and opened a mercantile business in Shawneetown. He also commanded a company in the local militia and went to war with the regiment in Mexico in the 1840s.

(Right: Library of Congress Gen. Michael Kelly Lawler)

He distinguished himself with the 3rd Illinois during General Winfield Scott's advance to Mexico City. Lawler returned to civilian life after the Mexican War, but with the coming of the Civil War, he mustered into Federal service as commander of the 18th Illinois Volunteers. Colonel Lawler was accused of excessive physical abuse of his men early in the war but was acquitted of the charges by department commander Henry Halleck. Lawler was wounded in command of his regiment at Fort Donelson in February 1862, but recovered from his wound and was promoted to brigadier general. He commanded a brigade at Port Gibson, Champion's Hill, and Big Black River Bridge during the Vicksburg campaign. During the siege of Vicksburg, Lawler's men captured over 1,100 Confederate prisoners in one of the campaign's most successful assaults on the rebel defenses. He was transferred to the Department of the Gulf and commanded the department's 4th and 1st divisions of the XIII Corps until the end of the war. Lawler returned to a farm he owned near Equality, Ill., after the war and lived there until his death on July 26, 1882.

The Reverend Cotton Mather, sworn enemy of "witches" in the colony of Massachusetts

CÉADAOIN -- On November 16, 1688, Irish Catholic Ann "Goody" Glover was hanged as a witch by the Puritans in Boston. Goody was born in Ireland in the first half of the 17th century and came to Massachusetts colony when she, her husband, and daughter, like many other Irish men and women, were deported from Ireland by Oliver Cromwell. She went first to Barbados, where her husband died, then to Boston. She and her daughter found domestic work in Boston, but unlike most other Irish Catholic immigrants of the time, they refused to convert, in spite of the lack of priests or a church to attend. Holding to her religion would prove a fatal mistake for Ann. Soon, she was falsely accused of stealing from her employer, John Goodwin, and was dismissed from his employ. The "stolen" items were found to have been misplaced, but the downward spiral of Ann Glover's life was set in motion. When Goodwin's four children began acting "strangely" after Ann departed, no one doubted the cause: witchcraft. Who then could be the witch? Certainly, an Irish Papist with a possible grudge against the Goodwins was first on the list. Glover spoke only Irish, no doubt another reason she was looked on with suspicion. She was interrogated by the Reverend Cotton Mather, of later Salem Witch Trial infamy, using translators about whose actual knowledge of the language we can only speculate. It comes as no surprise that Mather claimed that Ann Glover confessed she was a witch. Though no other confessed-witch had ever been hanged at the time, Mather condemned Ann Glover to death. On November 16, 1688, Ann Glover was hanged in Boston, for, in all likelihood, the misfortune of being a resolute Irish-speaking Catholic in Puritan New England. On November 16, 1988, the Boston City Council took note of the injustice done to Ann Glover 300 years earlier by proclaiming that day "Goody Glover Day" and condemning what had been done to her.

DEARDAOIN -- On Nov. 17, 1814, Joseph Finegan, a Confederate general in the American Civil War, was born in Clones, County Monaghan. Finegan immigrated to Florida in his early 20s. He built a lumber mill in Jacksonville and then later moved to Fernandia, where he was involved in building railroads and also practiced law. After serving as a delegate to Florida's secession convention, he was appointed to command the state's military by Governor John Milton. Finegan was praised for his organizing of two Florida brigades sent to the armies in Virginia and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Finegan's few remaining troops were spread thin trying to protect Florida's enormous shoreline. In early 1864, Union forces under Gen. Truman Seymour landed in Jacksonville and began to move inland. Finegan assembled three brigades and met the Federals at Olustee on February 20, driving them from the field and back to the Atlantic. It was the largest battle fought in Florida during the war. A "Thanks of the Confederate Congress" was later voted for Finegan and his men. Shortly after Olustee, Finegan was transferred to the Army of Northern Virginia, where he led a brigade of Floridians in William Mahone's division of the III Corps. Finegan's independent decision to attack the flank of Barlow's division at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864, helped repulse the Union assault there, and his brigade also fought well during the Petersburg campaign. Finegan performed very well at Hatcher's Run on Feb. 6, 1865, when he commanded four brigades that held off four Union divisions. After the war, Finegan practiced law and was a state senator in Florida, and then lived in Savannah, Georgia, for a time working as a cotton broker. His final years were spent in Rutledge, Fla., where he died October 29, 1885. Finegan, who was said at the end to still be an "unreconstructed rebel," was buried in Old City Cemetery in Jacksonville.


'The proof against her was wholly deficient.'
        --Robert Calef, a Boston merchant speaking of Ann "Goody" Glover

On ye brave lads; on ye go, on ye go!'
-- Confederate commander Joseph Finegan exhorting his troops to charge at Hatcher's Run on February 6, 1865


November - Samhain

14, 1908 - Joseph McCarthy (Controversial U.S. Senator – Grand Chute, WI)
15, 1791 George Croghan (Soldier in the War of 1812 and Mexican War – Louisville, KY) 
15, 1881
 - William Pearse (Revolutionary, brother of Patrick - Dublin.)
15, 1887
- Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (American artist - Sun Prairie, WI - paternal grandparents, Pierce and Catherine O’Keeffe, were from Co. Cork.)
16, 1814 
- Michael Kelly Lawler (Union General - Co. Kildare)
16, 1899
Mary Margaret McBride ("The First Lady of Radio," - Paris, Missouri)
17, 1814 -
Joseph Finnegan (Confederate General -- Clones, Co. Monaghan)


14, 1180 - St. Laurence O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin, dies in France.
14,1889 - Pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) begins a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completes the trip in 72 days.
14, 1923 - W.B. Yeats is announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

15-17, 1890
 - Catherine (Kitty) O'Shea divorce hearings.
15, 1985 - Garret Fitzgerald and Margaret Thatcher sign Anglo-Irish Agreement.
16, 1688 - Irish Catholic Ann "Goody" Glover is hanged as witch by the Puritans in Boston.
16, 1920 - RIC Auxilaries murder three Irish Volunteer prisoners on Killaloe Bridge, Co. Clare.
17-19, 1862 - Corcoran's Irish Legion mustered into the Federal service.
18-21, 1873 - Home Rule League formed in Dublin.
18, 1886 - The Plan of Campaign begins at the Clanricard Estate, Portumna, Co. Galway, when tenants offer the land agents rents due, less 40%, on condition that evicted tenants are reinstated.
19, 1798 - Tone dies from self-inflicted wound in provost-marshal's prison, Dublin barracks.

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Tags: American Civil War, Europe, History of Ireland, On This Day, United States


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