James Haltigan.

The Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies online

. (page 18 of 67)
Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 18 of 67)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

not surpassed, if equalled, during the war. He conceived the
thought that the enemy might be severely harassed by small boats,
properly armed. He manned four boats of his frigate with well-
armed crews and with muffled oars set out on a dark night to pa-
trol the river. Philadelphia was reached and the expedition was
almost past the city when the sentries on one of the British men-
of-war gave the alarm. A few scattering shots were fired from
the shore, but the sailors bent to their oars, and the boats were
lost to sight in the darkness.

When day broke Barry was far down the river. Opposite
the little post held by the American Army, and called Fort Penn,
Barry spied a large schooner, mounting ten guns, and flying the
British flag. With her were four transport ships loaded with
forage for the enemy's forces. Though the sun had risen and it
was broad day Barry succeeded in running his boats alongside the
schooner, and before the British suspected the presence of an
enemy his men were clambering over the rail, cutlass and pistol
in hand. There was no resistance. The astonished Englishmen
threw down their arms and rushed below. The victorious Amer-
icans battened down the hatches, ordered the four transports to
surrender on pain of being fired into, and triumphantly carried
all five prizes to the piers of Fort Penn. There the hatches were
removed and, the American sailors being drawn up in line, Barry
ordered the prisoners to come on deck. When all appeared it
was found that the Americans had bagged one major, two cap-




tains, three lieutenants, ten soldiers, and about a hundred sailors
and marines, a very respectable haul for a party of not more than
thirty American sailors.

Barry's conduct in this enterprise won for him the admiration
of friend and foe alike. Sir William Howe, then commander-in-
chief of the British forces in America, offered the daring Irish-
man 20,000 guineas and the command of a British frigate if he
would desert the service of the United States. "Not the value
and command of the whole British fleet," wrote Barry in reply,
"can seduce me from the cause of my country."

Washington considered this exploit highly creditable to
Captain Barry, and wrote to him as follows :

"I have received your favor of the 9th instant, and congratu-
late you on the success which has crowned your gallantry and
address in the late attack upon the enemy's ships. Although cir-
cumstances have prevented yDu from reaping the full benefit of
your conquests, yet there is ample consolation in the degree of
glory which you have acquired.

"You will be pleased to accept my thanks for the good things
which you were so polite as to send me, with my own wishes that
a suitable recompense may always attend ycur bravery.


In September, 1778, Barry was appointed to the command
of the frigate Raleigh, but soon after deliberately ran her ashore
rather than submit to capture by an overwhelming British force.
On May 29, 1781, as commander of the Alliance, he captured two
British vessels, the Atalanta and the Trepassy, after a hot fight,
During the action Barry was wounded and had to be carried
below. One of his lieutenants reported to him that the ship had
sustained great injury and asked if he would surrender. "No,"
replied Barry, "if the ship can't be fought without me I will be
carried on deck." The reply animated the crew to such an extent
that they succeeded in compelling the enemy to surrender before
Barry could be brought on deck. In the fall of the same year
Barry carried Lafayette and Count Noailles to France. In his
speech in Congress introducing the bill for the creation of a monu-
ment to Barry, the Hon. M. E. DriscoU thus summarizes jthe ser-
vices of Barry :

"That at the breaking out of the war of the Revolution Barry
was master of the Black Prince, the finest merchant ship in Amer-
ica. She was purchased by the First Congress, armored for war,
and made the first flagship of the first fleet, under the first com-
modore, and named the Alfred, after the father of the English
navy; that Barry won the first naval victory of the war in the
Continental service, and returned the first prize captured from the


enemy, in command of the Lexington, which was named after the
first battle of the Revolution and was the first ship that bore the
Continental flag to victory on the ocean ; that Barry was the first
captain of our present navy, and continued first in command until
the time of his death ; that during the last three years of the Revo-
lution he was ranking officer in the navy, and fought the last bat-
tle of the war in command of the Alliance, the last and best war-
ship of the Continental navy."

In the latter years of his life Captain Barry resided at No.
1 86 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, and died there on September
13. 1803.

He was buried in St. Mary's Catholic Church-yard on Fourth
street. A fine marble statue of Commodore Barry was erected
in 1876 as a part of the Centennial Memorial Fountain in Fair-
mount Park, Philadelphia, by the Catholic Total Abstinence Union
of America.

In the Irish- American Almanac for 1882 John O'Kane Mur-
ray thus concludes a sketch of the life of Barry :

"Throughout his whole life Commodore Barry was a good,
sincere, practical Catholic. As he died without children, he left
the Catholic Orphan Asylum of Philadelphia his chief legatee.

"Many noble and generous qualities combine to render his
heroic character one of singular symmetry and beauty. By all he
was loved and honored ; and to-day his memory is held in venera-
tion from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

"Barry was above the ordinary stature. His person was
graceful and commanding ; and his whole deportment was marked
by dignity, untinged with ostentation. He had a strongly marked
countenance, which expressed the qualities of his mind and the
virtues of his heart. His private life was amiable as his public
career was brilliant. In his domestic relations he was frank, open
and affectionate ; and his kind courtesy to all made him a host 01
friends. Deeply impressed with religion, he exacted an observance
of its holy duties and cerei. nies on board of his ship, as well as
in the retirement of private life. His lofty feelings of honor se-
cured the confidence of the most Illustrious men of the nation, and
gave the famous commander an extensive influence in the various
spheres in which his active life required him to move. He pos-
sessed in an eminent degree the regard and admiration of Wash-
ington. His public services were far from being limited by any
customary rule of professional dut^', and without regard to labor,
danger, or expense his devotion to his country kept him constantly
engaged in disinterested acts of public utility."

EPHRAIM BLAINE was the son of James and Elizabeth
Blaine, and was bom in Londonderry, Ireland, on May 26, 1741.


His parents emigrated to America previous to 1745 and settled
in Cumberland County, Pa., where the elder Blaine died in 1792,
leaving a widow and nine children. Ephraim, the eldest child,
received a classical education in Dr. Allison's school at Chester.
In 1763 he served in the Provincial army under Bouquet, and
was sheriff of Cumberland County from 1771 to 1774. At the be-
ginning of the Revolution he helped to raise a regiment of Asso-
ciators and became its lieutenant-colonel. On February 19, 1778,
he was appointed Commissiary-General of Purchases of the Con-
tinental army, and held this position for three years, during which
millions of money passed in safety through his hands without the
slightest suspicion on his honor or honesty. He possessed a for-
tune of his own and when the army needed supplies he raised
lar^e amounts to purchase them. Owing to the great sacrifices
which he made for the young Republic his own estate became
impaired and he was compelled to sell seven thousand acres of
his land, two thousand of which were in Baltimore County, Md.
President Washington remained at his house during his week's
stay in Carlisle, Pa,, at the time of the whiskey insurrection in
1794. Colonel Ephraim Blaine died at his farm in Middletown,
Cumberland County, Pa., on February 16, 1804. He was the
grandfather of James G. Blaine, Republican candidate for Presi-
dent in 1884 and Secretary of State under President Benjamin

JOHN BLEAKLEY inherited a large fortune from his
father, who was born in the North of Ireland and emigrated to
Philadelphia, where he was highly successful in business. John
Bleakley was noted for his benevolence and his zeal in the promo-
tion of literature. He died in 1802 and left $40,000 to the chari-
ties of Philadelphia.

JOHN BOYLE was one of the original members of the
Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. He was bom in Ireland and was
engaged in the linen trade in Philadelphia. He was also one of
the original members of the First City Troop and served with it
in the campaign of 1776-77.

JOHN BROWN, who was bom in Ireland, was Secretary
of the Friendly Sons from 1792 until 1802. He came to Philadel-
phia in his youth and was employed in the counting house of
Robert Morris. He accumulated a fortune and became a prosper-
ous merchant. He was Secretary of the State Board of War in
1777 and was one of the twelve founders of the Hibernian So-
ciety in 1790.

RICHARD BUTLER, one of the greatest soldiers of the
Revolution, was the eldest child of Thomas and EHner Butler, and


was born on July i, 1743, in St. Bridget's Parish, Dublin.^ About
1770, in partnership with his brother William, he settled in Pitts-
burg as an Indian trader. At the outbreak of the Revolution he
was appointed an Indian agent; on July 20, 1776, he was elected
by Congress as major; was made lieutenant-colonel two months'
later, and on June 7, 1777, he became colonel of the Fifth Penn-
sylvania regiment. Later In the same year, when Morgan's fa-
mous rifle corps was organized, he was appointed its lieutenant-
colonel, and with it participated in several sharp actions in New
Jersey and in the battles of Bemis Heights and Stillwater. At
the latter place he had the honor of leading the riflemen against
the right wing of the British army. After the surrender of Bur-
goyne, at which he was present, he was ordered to New Jersey
with a separate command of riflemen, but was soon afterwards
transferred to the Ninth Pennsylvania regiment. At the storming
of Stony Point he commanded the left column of the American
army. In 1781 he was placed in charge of the Fifth Pennsylvania
regiment and assigned to Wayne's command. After the capture
of Comwallis, in which he took a prominent part, he was assigned
to duty with General Wayne in Georgia, and only returned to his
home after the echo of the last gun of the Revolution had died
away forever, retiring from the army as brevet brigadier-general.
After the war he occupied the position of Indian Commis-
sioner, Superintendent of Indian Afifairs, Lieutenant of Allegheny
County, Pa., Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and State
Senator. In 1791 General Butler again took up arms in the cause
of his adopted country, and was made second in command, with
the rank of major-general, of the army organized by General St.
Clair to subdue the Western Indians. General Butler commanded
the right wing of the American army in the disastrous battle on
the Miami on November 4, 1791. "It was on this occasion," writes
Garden in his Revolutionary Anecdotes, "that the intrepid Butler
closed his military career in death вАФ his coolness preserved and
courage remaining unshaken till the last moment of his existence.
While enabled to keep the field his exertions were truly heroic.
He repeatedly led his men to the charge and with slaughter drove
the enemy before him, but at length being compelled to retreat to
his tent, from the number and severity of his wounds, he was re-
ceiving surgical aid, when a ferocious warrior, rushing into his
presence, gave him a mortal blow with his tomahawk." Lossing
says that Simon Girty, the nortorious Tory and unmitigated
scoundrel, instigated the Indian to do this terrible deed, and that
he not alone tomahawked General Butler, but scalped him and
tore out his heart for distribution among the tribes. General But-
ler's son, William Butler, died a Ueutenant in the navy early in


the war of 1812, while another son, Captain James Butler, com-
manded the Pittsburg Bkies in the same war.

THOMAS BUTLER, Sr., gave five sons to his adopted
country and founded a family whose record stands unequaled in
the war history of the nation. So important were the services
which his sons and grandsons rendered to America we must pause
in our history of the Friendly Sons to do justice to them.

Thomas Butler was a native of Kilkenny, and emigrated to
America in 1748. He at first settled in Lancaster, Pa., but soon
removed to Mount Pleasant, Cumberland County, where he en-
gaged in farming.

His second son, William, to whom we have already alluded
in our brief sketch of the brilliant record of his eldest son, Rich-
ard, was born in 1745 and died in Pittsburg in 1789. He was
lieutenant-colonel of the Fourth Pennsylvania regiment in the
Revolution. In October, 1778, after the destruction of Wyoming
by the Tories and the Indians, he conducted an expedition from
Schoharie, N. Y., which destroyed the Indian settlements of
Unadilla and Anaguaga.

Thomas Butler's third son, Thomas, was born at sea on the
way to this country, on May 26, 1748. In 1776, while studying
law with Judge Wilson in Philadelphia, he joined the patriot army,
soon obtained a company, and was in almost every action in the
Middle States during the Revolution. At the battle of Brandy-
wine, September 11, 1777, he received the thanks of Washington
on the field for intrepidity in rallying a retreating detachment. At
Monmouth he was thanked by Wayne for defending a defile in
the face of a heavy fire, while the regiment of his eldest brother,
Colonel Richard Butler, withdrew. After the war he retired to
a farm, but in 1791 was made major and commanded a battalion
from Carlisle in Gibson's regiment, under St. Clair, at whose de-
feat by the Indians on November 4, 1791, he was twice wounded
and was with difficulty removed from the field, his leg having
been broken by a bullet, by his surviving brother, Edward, his
elder brother, as we have seen, having been already treacherously
killed. On the reorganization of the army on a peace basis in
June, 1802, he was retained as colonel of the Second Infantry
and died in New Orleans on September 7, 1805. His son, Robert,
served in the War of 181 2 as assistant adjutant-general to Gen-
eral Harrison in the battle of the Thames, and distinguished him-
self at New Orleans. He resigned as colonel in 1821 and from
1824 till 1849 w^s surveyor of public lands in Florida.

Thomas Butler's fourth son, PIERCE BUTLER, was born
in Carlisle, Pa., on April 4, 1760, and died in Louisville, Ky., on
September 11, 1821. He was captain in the Revolutionary War,


waa with Morgan at Saratoga, commanded the Americans
against Colonel Simcoe at Spencer's Ordinary on June 25, 1781,
and served at the siege of Yorktown. He was adjutant-general
in the War of 1812. His son, Thomas Langford Butler, was born
in Lexington, Ky., in 1789, and died in Louisville, Ky., October
21, 1880. He entered the army as lieutenant, was made captain
in 181 3, and served through the Northwestern campaign under
Harrison. In 1814 and 181 5 he was aide-de-camp to General
Tackson, was present at the battles of Pensacola and New Or-
leans, and was brevetted major for gallantry. After the war he
was rewarded with the position of Surveyor of the Port of New
Orleans, but soon resigned and went back to his old home in Ken-
tucky, where he was twice elected to the Legislature. His
brother, WILLIAM ORLANDO BUTLER, also a distinguished
soldier, was born in Jessamine County, Ky., in 1791, and died in
CarroUton, Ky., on August 6, 1880, in his eighty-ninth year, his
brother having lived to be ninety-one years. William Orlando
Rutler was studying law, but when the War of 1812 broke out,
although only in his twentieth year, he immediately enlisted as a
private and hastened to the relief of Fort Wayne. Promoted to
ensign in the Seventh Infantry, he was present at the disastrous
battles at Raisin River on January 18 and 22, 181 3. He dis-
tinguished himself in the second engagement by burning a barn
from which the Indians poured a gallmg fire into the American
ranks, but was wounded and taken prisoner. After enduring pri-
vations and inhuman treatment at the hands of the English he
was paroled at Fort Niagara and made his way back to Kentucky
amid many hardships. Commissioned a captain, he raised a com-
pany and did good service at Pensacola. He was ordered to
New Orleans where, on the night of December 23, 1814, while
in command of four companies, he attacked and repelled General
Sir Edward Pakenham. This check gave time for the construc-
tion of defenses at Chalmette, which on January 8 enabled the
Americans to defeat a force double their own and win a decisive
victory. For this service Captain Butler was made brevet-major.
In the following year he succeeded his brother. Major Thomas
Butler, as aide-de-camp to General Jackson. In 181 7 he resigned
from the array, resumed the practice of law, served three terms
in the Kentucky Legislature, and two in the National Congress,
and waa the candidate of his party for Governor of Kentucky
in 1844, reducing the Whig majority from 28,000 to less than
^,ooa Although his success at the bar was brilliant, he again
folned the army at the beginning of the Mexican War, and on
"une 29, 1846, was appointed major-general of volunteers and
a prominent part in the military movements in Texas and


Northern Mexico. At the siege of Monterey he charged a bat-
tery, was wounded in the leg and sent home, but rejoined the
army of General Scott the following year and was present at the
capture of the City of Mexico. For his bravery at Monterey he
received a sword of honor from Congress and one from his own
State. In February, 1848, being senior major-general, he suc-
ceeded General Scott in the chief command of the army of the
United States and held that honorable position when peace was
signed on May 29, 1848. In the same year General Butler was
nominated by the Democratic National Convention at Baltimore
for Vice President, with Lewis Cass for President, but the ticket
was defeated owing to the division created by the Free-Soilers.
General Butler retired to private life after this election, but when
his country was again in danger he appeared once more and for
the last time on the public stage at the Peace Congress at Wash-
ington in 1 86 1.

Thomas Butler's fifth and youngest son, EDWARD BUT-
LER, was born at Mount Pleasant, Pa., on March 20, 1762, and
died at Fort Wilkinson, Ga,, on May 6, 1803. He was present at
the battle on the Miami, where his brother Richard was so foully
killed, and from which he carried his wounded brother Thomas
off the field. He was adjutant-general to General Wayne in
1796, and was retained in the army with the rank of major on its
peace establishment in 1802. His son, Edward G. W. Butler,
entered the army as cadet in 18 16, rose to the rank of first lieu-
tenant, but resigned in 183 1. In 1847 he again entered the army
as colonel of dragoons from Louisiana and served through the
Mexican War.

This is only a mere glance at the glorious history of the fam-
ily founded by Thomas Butler from Kilkenny, which was repre-
sented by four sons in the War of the Revolution, three sons in
the Indian War of 1791, one son and five grandsons in the War
of 181 2, and two grandsons in the Mexican War, one of the latter
rising to the proud position of Commander-in-Chief of the United
States army. It is doubtful if this record can be equalled by any
other family in America, when service as well as sacrifice is taken
into account.

ANDREW CALDWELL was one of the original members
of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. He was a native of Ireland, a
cousin of Samuel Caldwell and a prominent merchant of Phila-
delphia. He signed the non-importation resolutions in 1765 and
from that time on was prominent in all the movements that led
up to independence. On January 13, 1776, he was appointed
Commodore of the provincial fleet, which he commanded in the
fight with the British frigates Roebuck and Liverpool on the 6th


of May following. Soon after this event he resigned his position
of Commodore on account of ill health, saying in his letter of
resignation : "The preservation of the city depends on the de-
fense of the river, and as there is reason to believe that the enemy
will shortly return to accomplish their hellish purpose of murder
and destruction I should consider myself as injuring the public
cause were I to delay at this time the resigning of an office which,
though proud to be honored with and anxious to discharge, I am
not now able to perform." He was one of the originators of the
First City Troop and continued to take a deep interest in public
affairs until his death, which occurred toward the close of the
eighteenth century.

SAMUEL CALDWELL was one of the most active and
useful members of the Friendly Sons, being its secretary and
treasurer for seventeen years. He was born in Londonderry, Ire-
land, and was a member of the shipping firm of Mease and Cald-
well. He served with the First City Troop in the campaign of
1 776- 1 777, and in 1780 subscribed 1,000 pounds to the bank orga-
nized to supply the patriot army with provisions. In 1787, owing
to sacrifices in the war, he was forced to make an assignment, and
soon after retired from business. At the first opening of the
United States Circuit Court, on October 6, 1789, Judge Francis
Hopkinson appointed him clerk of the court, and he continued in
that office until his death on November 16, 1798. His son, David
Caldwell, succeeded him in office and continued to hold it until
he resigned on October 6, 1831, the forty-second anniversary of
the original appointment of his father, as remarked by him in his
letter of resignation addressed to Judge Joseph Hopkinson, son
of Judge Francis Hopkinson, w^ho had appointed his father. "I
reciprocate," replied Judge Hopkinson, "most truly your expres-
sions of affection and respect. Our intimacy commenced in our
childhood and was the growth of the friendship that subsisted
between our fathers. I think we may now say that it is not likely
to be interrupted during our lives." The members of the bar pre-
sented David Caldwell with a silver cup, valued at $150, as a tes-
timonial of their appreciation of his long and valuable services
to the profession. He died on November 11, 1835. It was to his
widow that the Hibernian Society was indebted for the original
minutes, rules, etc., of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

GEORGE CAMPBELL was one of the original members
of the Friendly Sons and also of the First City Troop, in which he
served until the close of the war. He was born at Stewartstown,
County Tyrone, Ireland, and was admitted to practice law at the
Armagh Assizes in 175 1. He pursued his profession in Ireland
until 1765, when he emigrated to Philadelphia. After the war of


Independence he resumed the practice of law and was elected a
member of the Pennsylvania Legislature. In 1783 he was ap-
pointed Register of Wills of Philadelphia and continued in that
office until 1800. He died in 1810 universally respected. He was
the father of nine children. His widow, who was a sister of John
Donaldson, survived him two years.

DANIEL CLARK was a native of Ireland and for a time a
well-known merchant in Philadelphia, but removed to New Or-
leans, where he amassed a fortune. He died in that city in 1799.
His nephew, Daniel Clark, who inherited his great fortune, at-
tained prominence in public affairs, being a delegate from the
territory of Orleans in the Ninth Congress. He became widely
known through his will, which laid the foundation of the famous
law suit, in which his daughter, Mrs. Myra Clark Gaines, figured
for so many years. By a will dated May 20, 181 1, Clark's prop-
erty was given to his mother, Mary Clark, who had followed him

Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 18 of 67)