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of eye and bold of heart. Appreciating these high qualities, Marion
at once advanced him to the rank of sergeant, and soon, with
his assistance, had the required number of men.

Jasper's life in the Revolutionary Army was a continued
series of deeds of heroism, and we are sorry we cannot recount
them at full length. During the bombardment of Fort Sullivan,
Charleston Harbor, by the British Navy, on June 28, 1776, the
flag-staff of the fort was shot away and fell, with the American
colors, beyond the ramparts. Sergeant Jasper, perceiving the
misfortune, sprang from one of the embrasures and, deliberately
walking the entire length of the front of the fort, until he reached
the fallen colors on the extreme left, detached them from the
mast, called to Captain Horry for a sponge-staff, and having with
a thick cord lashed the colors to it, returned within the fort, and
amid a shower of bullets planted the staff on the summit of the
merlon. This done, waving his hat, he gave three cheers, and then
shouting: "God save liberty and my country forever," retired
unhurt to his gun, where he continued to fight throughout the en-
gagement.

During the same battle, as Sergeant McDaniel, another Irish-
American, lay dying at his gun, he exclaimed: "Fight on, my
brave boys, don't let liberty expire with me to-day." When
Jasper was removing the body of this hero from the blood-
stained platform he cried out to his comrades, "Revenge this
brave man's death."

Owing to the bravery of such men and their unerring
marksmanship, the British ships were compelled to retire, leaving
victory in the hands of the Americans.

Six days later, on July 4, 1776, the United Colonies were
declared free and independent. On the same day Governor Rut-
ledge, an Irish-American, visited Fort Sullivan and in the name
of the young Commonwealth tendered sincerest thanks and con-
gratulations. Publicly commending the heroic bravery of Jas-
per, he removed from his side his own sword, and presented it to
him as a reward for his bravery and an incitement to further deeds
of valor. The Governor also tendered him a commission as lieu-
tenant, which he modestly declined. "Were I made an officer,"
said he, "my comrades would be constantly blushing for my
ignorance, and I should be unhappy feeling my own inferiority.
I have no ambition for higher rank than that of sergeant."

Jasper's heroic conduct at Fort Sullivan and the modesty
with which he invariably carried himself made his name renowned
throughout the entire country. Shortly after the battle two flags
were presented to his regiment by the wife of Major Barnard
Elliot. They were gratefully accepted in appropriate words by



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Ill

Colonel Moultrie, who there and then handed one of them to
Jasper. Smilingly the sergeant received the precious emblem,
vowing that he would never give it up but with his life. And
nobly afterward did he redeem that vow.

Ever ready to encounter danger and always meeting it with
entire self-possession, thoroughly reliable, of unquestioned loyalty
to the cause of the Revolutionists, and abounding withal in sagacity,
moderation and humanity, Jasper was eminently fitted for the
duties of a scout. Recognizing his uncommon worth, his com-
manding officers did not attempt to confine him within the limited
sphere of an ordinary subaltern of his rank. "Through every
subsequent period of the war," writes Garden in his Anecdotes
of the Revolutionary War, "his conduct was exemplary; but in
the details which I have seen, carries too much the air of romance
to be dwelt upon. He was a perfect Proteus in his ability to
alter his appearance ; perpetually entering the camp of the enemy
without detection and invariably returning to his own with
British soldiers he had converted or prisoners he had captured."

General Moultrie's testimony with regard to Jasper is even
more emphatic than the foregoing. "I had such confidence in
him," he writes, "that when I was in the field I gave him a
roving commission and liberty to pick out his men from my
brigade. He seldom would take more than six; he often went
out and returned with prisoners before I knew he was gone. I
have known of his catching a party that was looking for him.
He went into the British lines at Savannah and delivered himself
up as a deserter. He was gladly received and caressed by them.
He stayed eight days, and, after informing himself well of their
strength, situation and intentions, he returned to us again."

After the British occupation of Savannah, in December, 1776,
when Jasper was with his regiment at Purysburg, the headquar-
ters of General Lincoln, he made one of those visits to the Eng-
lish camp at Ebenezer, accompanied by a fellow-sergeant named
Newton. While there some American prisoners were brought
in, charged with having broken faith with the English. They
were pinioned, under guard, and on their way to Savannah for
trial and punishment, where sure and sudden death awaited them.
The wife of one of the prisoners, with her child, accompanied
them. Moved by their sad fate, Jasper resolved upon their de-
liverance, and in this resolution he was heartily joined by his
comrade Newton. The captives were in charge of a sergeant, a
corporal, and eight privates, all armed with loaded muskets, while
the two American sergeants were entirely unarmed. The adven-
ture was certainly desperate in the extreme and its conception
could only have originated with one of Jasper's admitted daring.



112 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

Conjecturing that the guard would stop to refresh them-
selves at a spring near the Augusta Road, about two miles from
Savannah, and selecting this as the most favorable spot for the
contemplated rescue, Jasper and Newton rapidly traversed the
woods and reached the spring in advance of the prisoners and
their guard.

Carefully concealing themselves in the dense foliage, they
there, with brave but palpitating hearts, awaited an auspicious
moment for the execution of their hazardous plan. They had
correctly surmised, for in a little while, upon the arrival of the
party, the guard was halted in the road just opposite the spring.
Attended by a corporal and four men the prisoners were con-
ducted near the water, while the sergeant in command, having
caused the rest of the detail to stack arms in the road, brought
up the rear. Over the muskets two men were posted to keep
watch. Tired and dejected, the prisoners threw themselves upon
the ground. The weary child fell asleep in the lap of its weeping
mother. Hope had fled from the hearts of the captives, and their
guards, confident in the early accomplishment of their duty,
cherished no apprehension of impending danger. Approaching
the spring and leaning their weapons against a tree, two of the
soldiers stooped to fill their canteens. The coveted moment had
come. Springing like tigers from their ambush, in the twinkling
of an eye and before the astonished enemy could realize the situa-
tion, Jasper and Newton seized these muskets and shot down the
two men on duty. Then clubbing their weapons, they rushed
upon the amazed soldiers, and felling the first who opposed them,
succeeded in obtaining possession of the loaded muskets. Before
the presented weapons the rest of the guard yielded instantaneous
surrender. It was the marvelous achievement of cool calculation,
prompt valor, and vigorous action in the teeth of overwhelming
odds. It brought freedom to the enchained and joy to the sor-
rowing. Under the '^■ure guidance of Jasper and Newton, both
the rescued and the captured were quickly conducted to the
American camp at Purysburg, to the inexpressible astonishment
and delight of all.

Jasper continued in his roving commission, accomplishing
one feat more wonderful than another, until the disastrous de-
feat of the Americans before Savannah, on October 8, 1779,
where he received his death-wound and where the English can-
non were loaded with chain-shot, scraps of iron, and knife-blades.
During the assault the colors which had been presented by Mrs.
Elliott were carried by Lieutenants Bush and Gray, supported
by Sergeants Jasper and McDonald. Bush and Gray were
killed in the terrible slaughter and the custody of the flags fell



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. II3

to the sergeants. McDonald succeeded in retiring with his in
safety, but Jasper, already badly wounded, while endeavoring to
secure his, received a second and a mortal hurt. Remembering,
even in his last agony, his sacred promise to Mrs. Elliott, and sum-
moning all his energies, he snatched the sacred emblems from the
grasp of the triumphant enemy and bore them from the bloody
field.

"I have got my furlough," said Jasper to Major Horry, who
hastened to his side after the battle, and pointing to his sword,
continued : "That sword was presented to me by Governor Rut-
lege for my service in the defense of Fort Moultrie. Give it to
my father and tell hiin I have worn it with honor. If he should
weep say to him that his son died in the hope of a better life. Tell
Mrs. Elliott that I lost my life supporting the colors which she
presented to our regiment."

Towards the last moments his mind reverted to his battle
at the spring, and he mentioned the names of those he had res-
cued from death at the hands of the British. "Should you ever
see them," he said to Major Horry, "tell them that Jasper is
gone, but that the remembrance of the battle he fought for them
brought a secret joy to his heart vv^hen it was about to stop its
motion forever."

Thus did the noble Jasper pass away, true alike to his coun-
try and his God.

The remissness of Mr. Jones, from whom we have quoted
many of the foregoing facts, in leaving out tlie name of Ireland
in his otherwise brilliant effort, is more than made up for in the
grand oration of the late Governor John B. Gordon, of Georgia,
at the laying of the corner-stone of the Jasper Monument in
Savannah, in the fall of 1879. That Gordon represented the true
feelings of the South, not only in his references to Ireland but on
all other matters, and that he was deeply loved by his entire peo-
ple, is attested by the fact that on his recent death more than
fifty thousand persons viewed his body as it lay in state, while
twenty thousand others lined the streets of Atlanta as his re-
mains were being carried to their last resting place in Oakland
Cemetery.

In the course of his masterly speech on the above occasion
Governor Gordon paid the following glowing tribute to Ireland
and Irishmen:

"Jasper was a private soldier, and one of the most illus-
trious representatives the world ever saw of those self-sacrificing
men who in all armies fill the ranks, suffer the bitterest priva-
tions, and bear the bnmt of war. The heart of universal hu-
manity will respond to this day's work as an act of justice, not



114 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

only to Jasper himself, but to all private soldiers, whom he so
conspicuously represents, and as this column rises on the spot
where Jasper fell, it will proclaim to future ages your apprecia-
tion of the self-abnegation, the daring courage, and the un-
bought patriotism of that vast army of untitled soldiery, who,
with no hope of reward save the approval of conscience, their
country and their God, have gone down in the crash and carnage
of war, to fill unlettered graves.

"I rejoice that Georgia is to build such a monument, and
I thank you, my cotmtrymen, that you have thought me worthy
to represent you in such a cause. Another source of the peculiar
interest which invests the name of Jasper is to be found in the
fact that he was an Irishman ; that he did not permit the mourn-
ful state inflicted by Great Britain upon his own country and
its people to deter him from enlisting in the cause of the feeble
colonies against the same domineering and apparently invincible
power.

"As the chosen organ of the Jasper Monumental Associa-
tion, I invite the Irish-Americans and the patriots of Ireland
everywhere to regard the column which shall be erected to Jas-
per as a monument also to the spirit of resistance to tyrants,
which though baffled in Ireland and victorious in America, is
still older and as enduring in Ireland as in American hearts. Ire-
land and Irishmen in every quarter of the globe, wherever they
breathe the vital air, will rise up with one accord to do honor
to the principles of freedom for which that people battled
through centuries of defeat; for which Jasper fell and for
which this monument is to be raised. Few nations that have
lived in history deserve more richly than Ireland the tribute
which you are about to pay to one of her sons. Her history
running back to the regions of fable and descending with an un-
broken current through ten centuries, Ireland, prior to her con-
quest by a foreign power, can boast of a civilization and national
independence of greater duration than any nation of any age.
Even the tides of foreign conquest which have rolled in successive
waves over Ireland have not sufficed to obliterate the record of
her learning, to obscure the manifestations of her wonderful
genius, to crush the spirit of her inextinguishable nationality, nor
to quench the fires of freedom that glow in the breasts of her peo-
ple. Even Alfred, the idol of British history, was educated in
Irish halls of learning and drew from Irish polity his maxims and
institutions of political wisdom.

"Edmund Burke and Curran and Sheridan were Irishmen.
What country, what age, can boast of such a trio? Burke, the
fearless friend of American freedom, who was unrivalled in the



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 115

profusion of his gifts, whose colossal form rises in imperial
height above his fellow-men ; who, from the platform of politics,
swept with his intellectual vision the vast field of philosophy, of
science, of hterature, of laws, and of eloquence. Curran, who
even in his old age, when the frosts had blighted many of those
flowers of fancy which had bloomed with perennial beauty, drew
from Madame de Stael the declaration that he was the most
gifted man she had ever known, who was the Shakespeare of the
bar, the true son of genius, the heir of its highest inspiration.
Sheridan, whose eloquence Bryon declared —

"Was the thunder — the avenging rod —

The wrath — the delegated voice of God —

Which shook the nations through his lips and blazed

Till vanquished Senates trembled as they praised.

"What does England not owe to Ireland for the gift of such
men as these? What does France not owe to Ireland for
Cavaignac, who was called in our day to the head of the French
Republic? What does America not owe to Ireland for the monu-
ments of Irish industry and for Irish contributions to bar and
bench and battlefield ; for Jasper and Montgomery, martyrs to
American independence ; for Shields and the Irish-born soldiers
who in every war followed the flag of this Republic? What
does the South not owe to Ireland for enriching her soil with the
blood of Cleburne, and her literature with the genius of Ryan,
that gifted Irishman who is at once the thunderbolt of oratory
and rainbow of poesy ; whose thoughts breathe with the very life
of truth, and whose words like sparks from holy altars burn in
our bosoms with immortal fire? What does liberty not owe to
Ireland for Fitzgerald, for Wolfe Tone, for John Mitchell, for
Thomas Francis Meagher, for O'Brien, O'Connell, and Robert
Emmet? Though heroes of a lost cause, the names of these
patriots are forever associated with the names of Hampden, of
Sydney, of Brutus, and of Washington. It is fitting that Amer-
icans should build a monument to a son of Ireland. It is espe-
cially appropriate that it should be built by Georgians to Jasper,
and that it should stand here among the people for whose liberty
and independence he so freely gave up his life."



CHAPTER IX.

IRISHMEN IN THE EARLY DAYS OF GEORGIA AND THE SOUTH.

Georgia was the latest colony founded by the English in
America. It was not until June, 1732, that a charter for its founda-
tion was issued to General James E. Oglethorpe by King George
II, after whom the colony Avas named. General Oglethorpe was
bom in London, England, in 1696, but was a man of liberal ideas
and believed that other people had rights as well as the English,
which was a rare quality among his countrymen at that or any
other time.

In January, 1733, Oglethorpe arrived at Charleston, S. C,
at the head of a company of one hundred and fifty persons, most
of whom were English, but few, if any, being natives of Ireland.
After laying out Savannah and making other arrangements for
the comfort of his people, Oglethorpe returned to England in
1734. He brought with him the chief of the Yamacraw Indians
and presented him to the King. While in England he sent out
one hundred and fifty Scotch Highlanders to Georgia and on his
return in 1735, he was accompanied by three hundred emigrants,
amongst whom were John and Charles Wesley, the founders of
the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The religion of the new colony was placed in John Wesley's
hands, but he only remained for three years, when he returned
to England, leaving the religion to take care of itself. Though
but a short time in Georgia Wesley left the mark of his bigotry
behind him. He prohibited Catholics from entering the colony
and this rule was carried out by his successor, Whitfield, who
arrived in Savannah in 1740 and took charge of the spiritual
welfare of the people. The latter, however, did not take kindly
to such rigorous methods, and Wesleyan institutions soon waned
and died.

In regard to the foundation of Methodism in this country we
might here mention the fact, which is not very widely known by
the members of that church, that it was first permanently estab-
lished in America by three persons of Irish birth and education,
namely Barbara Heck, Philip Embury, and Robert Strawbridge.
Barbara Heck and Philip Embury were born in Ballingarry, near
the borders of Limerick and Tipperary, They belonged to the
German I^alatines who settled in that section in 1708, and were
converted to Methodism by Wesley himself. Embury was a
carpenter by trade, but he had received a good education in his

116



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 117

youth and became a preacher in the new church. He came to
New York in 1760, but he fell away from the faith, devoting all
his attention to his business as a carpenter.

In 1766, at his residence in Barrack street, now Park Place,
New York, he was enjoying himself one Sabbath afternoon v/ith
several of his countrymen over a game of cards, when Barbara
Heck appeared among them, seized the cards from the hands of
the players and flung them into the fire. She charged Embury
that he should preach to them or God wotild require their blood
at his hands. Soon after regular services were held at Embury's
residence, and the first Methodist congregation in America was
there formed.

In 1768 Embury built the first Methodist Church on the site
of the present structure in John street. New York, and worked
on the building himself as a carpenter. In 1769, he moved to
Camden, N. J., where he founded another church, and died tliere
in 1832. In 1873 a monument was erected to his memory in
Cambridge, N. Y.

Robert Strawbridge, who was born in Drummer's Nave,
near Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, Ireland, came to this
country about the same time as Embury and settled in ]\Iaryland,
where he formed the first Methodist society. It is a matter oi
dispute whether he or Embury founded the first Methodist society
and built its first church in America, but most authorities give
Embury priority. In any case the honor, such as it is, belongs
to an Irishman.

General Oglethorpe remained in Georgia until 1745. His
course here was marked by such liberality that he incurred the
hostility of the English authorities and was twice court-mar-
tialed, but acquitted each time, during his career. When, in
1775, General Gage returned to England, the command of the
British forces in America was tendered to General Oglethorpe.
but he refused to accept unless he was furnished with powers of
concession and conciliation. Needless to say, these powers were
not granted, as they were not regarded as component parts of
English civilization. After the war of Independence was over
and John Adams arrived as American Ambassador in England,
Oglethorpe was one of the first to call upon him and assure him
of his regard for the United States and of his satisfaction and
gratitude at the ending of the war.

He was a man of fine feeling, of excellent taste, and of cul-
ture far beyond the men of his class. The Irish people were slow
to settle in Georgia, but as the war of Independence approached
they migrated in some numbers from the neighboring colonies of
North and South Carolina.



Il8 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

The first Irishman of note who distinguished himself in
Georgia was William Knox. He accompanied Governor Henry
Ellis to that colony as provost-marshal in 1757, and remained
there until 1761. On his return to England he was appointed
agent for Georgia and East Florida, but his commission was
withdrawn in 1765 on account of his advocacy of the Stamp Act.
He defended his position in American affairs in many pamphlets,
but his views were controverted by Edmund Burke. Although
opposed to American independence, he exhibited rnany liberal
tendencies. He advocated American representation in the Brit-
ish Parliament, and defended the Quebec Act which granted
many rights to Catholics. He died in England in 1810.

Although Georgia was not represented in the first Conti-
nental Congress, yet the spirit of liberty already prevailed there
and made itself manifest in many ways. Lossing tells us the
American Association was early established there and the lines
between Whigs and Tories were distinctly drawn.

In Augusta, in the summer of 1775, a Tory named Thomas
Brown having openly reviled the cause of the Republicans and
having given at a dinner party a toast in which that cause was
ridiculed, his arrest was ordered by the Parish Committee.
Brown attempted to escape, but was captured and brought back.
He was tried and sentenced to be tarred and feathered, and pub-
licly exposed in a cart, to be drawn three miles, or until he was
willing to confess his error and take oath that he would espouse
the cause of the Americans. He took the latter course, but he
speedily became a traitor and joined the British army. He was
made a lieutenant colonel, and afterward, while commandant at
Augusta and in other places, so fiercely retaliated upon his
countrymen that he became notorious as one of the most cruel
and blood-thirsty monsters of the war. Brown was appointed
commandant of Augusta early in 1779. His forces consisted of
550 men, three hundred of whom were Indians. He sent out de-
tachments to burn the dwellings of the patriots in the vicinity
and incited the Indians to murder the inhabitants on the frontier.
Brown's authority for such diabolical action was a letter
which Cornwallis had sent to the commanders of all the British
outposts ordering that all those who had taken part in the revolt
should be punished with the utmost vigor, and that those who
would not turn out with the British should be imprisoned and
their whole property taken from them or destroyed. Every
militiaman who had borne arms in the King's service and after-
ward joined the Americans was to be immediately hanged.
"Officers, soldiers, and citizens," says McCall, in his History of
Georgia, "were brought up to the place of execution without



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. II9

being informed why they had been taken out of prison. The
next morning after the sanguinary order of Cornwallis reached
Augusta five victims were taken from the jail by order of Colonel
Brown, who all expired on the gibbet."

The Americans, under Colonel McCall, one of the Irish-
Americans of South Carolina, and Colonel Elijah Clark, came
near driving Brown out of Augusta on September 16, 1780. He
sought refuge in a place called the White House, which he suc-
ceeded in holding until reinforcements reached him and the
Americans were compelled to retreat.

On this occasion Captain Ashby and twenty-eight Ameri-
cans were taken prisoners. Upon these Brown and his Indian
allies glutted their thirst for revenge. Captain Ashby and
twelve of the wounded were hanged upon the stairway of the
White House, so that Brown might have the satisfaction of seeing
their sufferings. Others were given up to the Indians to torture,



Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 12 of 67)