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matters she was the arbiter in the army, and afterwards the chief
adviser of Mrs. Washington in New York and Philadelphia^ Her
activity never abated and her conversational talents and power of
management gave her great influence in social and political cir-
cles. After her husband had retired to private life Mme. Knox,
as she was generally called, continued to exercise a bounteous
hospitaHty, frequently entertaining a hundred guests in her man-
sion, which was built near the head of St. George's River, on an
estate skirting Penobscott Bay that she inherited from her ma-
ternal grandfather. General Samuel Waldo. She was a faithful,
loving wife, and was always the source of pride and happiness
to her husband.

During his entire career General Knox was amiable, upright,
and pure in his private life, and though ardent, impulsive, and
enthusiastic, he was yet sound in judgment and cool in action.
His death, which occurred on the 25th of October, 1806, in his
fifty-sixth year, was occasioned by his accidentally swallowing a



342 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

chicken-bone, which caused internal inflammation. His wife
survived him eighteen years, departing this life in 1824, in her
seventieth year.

General WilHam Sullivan, son of Governor James Sullivan,
of Massachusetts, and nephew of General John Sullivan, in his
"Public Men of the Revolution," tells the following anecdote of
the embarrassments of General Knox, which were occasioned
by his too bountiful generosity:

"Generals Knox, Lincoln, and Jackson had been companions
in the Revolution — had laughed, eaten, and drunk, fought and
lived together, and were on the most intimate terms. They loved
each other to a degree but little known to men of the present day.
After the struggle of the war they retired to their homes, and
were all comfortable in their worldly circumstances, if not rich;
but Knox possessed large tracts of land in the State of Maine,
upon the rapid sales of which he confidently relied; imagined
himself more wealthy than he was, and lived in luxurious style.
He built himself a superb mansion at Thomaston, Me., where all
his friends met with a cordial welcome and enjoyed the most
liberal hospitality. It was not an unusual thing for Knox to kill,
in summer, when great numbers of friends visited him, an ox
and twenty sheep on every Monday morning, and to make up one
hundred beds daily in his house. He kept for his own use and
that of his friends twenty saddle-horses and several carriages in
his stables. His expensive living was too much for his means,
as he was disappointed in the sale of his lands, and was forced to
borrow sums of money on the credit of his friends, Generals
Lincoln and Jackson. He soon found himself involved to a large
amount, and was obliged to acquaint his friends of the embar-
rassments into which he had unfortunately drawn them. Lincoln
was at that time Collector of the Port of Boston, and occupied a
house in State street, now torn down, part of which he used for
the Custom House and part he occupied as his dwelling. It was
agreed that the three should meet there, and a full exposition of
lOiox's affairs be made known. I was applied to as counsel on
the occasion, and was the first one who came at the time ap-
pointed. Jackson soon entered ; after him., Knox ; and almost
immediately Lincoln came in. They seated themselves in a semi-
circle, whilst I took my place at the table for the purpose of draw-
ing up the necessary papers and taking the notes of this melan-
choly disclosure. These men had often met before, but never
in a moment of such sorrow. Both Lincoln and Jackson knew
and felt that Knox, the kindest heart in the world, had unwit-
tingly involved them. They were all too full to speak, and main-
tained for some minutes a sorrowful silence. At last, as if moved



The IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOI^UTION. 343

by the same impulse, they raised their eyes. Their glances met,
and Knox burst into tears. Soon, however, Lincoln rose, brushed
a tear from his eye, and exclaimed, 'Gentlemen, this will never
do! We come hither to transact business! let us attend to it'
This aroused the others, and Knox made a full disclosure of his
affairs. Although Lincoln and Jackson suffered severe losses, it
never disturbed the feelings of friendship and intimacy which had
existed between these generous-hearted men."

General William Sullivan, the author of the foregoing
anecdote, was one of the most prominent lawyers of Boston in his
time, and was many years President of the Suffolk Bar Asso-
ciation. He was frequently a member of the State Legislature
and Council of Massachusetts and brigadier-general of militia.
He was noted for his scholarly attainments and oratorical abilities
and belonged to the principal literary and art societies in Boston.

His father. Governor James Sullivan, was a lawyer of high
reputation and did active service during the siege of Boston. He
was intended for a military career, but was prevented from fol-
lowing it by the fracture of a limb. He studied law under his
brother, General John Sullivan, began practice at Biddeford, Me.,
and in 1770 received the appointment of King's Attorney for York
County. He early took an active part in the Revolution, was a
member of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1775,
and with two others executed a difficult mission to Ticonderoga.
He was a member of the Continental Congress in 1784 and 1785,
and repeatedly represented Boston in the State Assembly. He
served as Attorney-General from 1790 till 1807, when he was
elected Governor of Massachusetts and re-elected the following
year. He was one of the commissioners appointed by Washing-
ton to settle the boundary line between this country and British
North America and the projector of the Middlesex Canal, which
was constructed under the superintendence of his son, John Lang-
don Sullivan. Governor Sullivan was the author of many val-
uable historic works, and was one of the principal founders of the
Massachusetts Historical Society, of which he was president for
many years. He died at Boston on December 10, 1808, in his
sixty-fourth year.

Daniel Morgan, the son of an Irishman from the County of
Londonderry, was among the first soldiers to arrive in Boston
from the South after Washington took command. He was one of
the most noted leaders of the Revolution, but we look in vain for
any mention of his Irish nationality in any American histories we
have read. But James Bernard Cullen, in his history of the Irish
in Boston, and Colonel Michael Doheny, in his history of the
American Revolution, written in Ireland in 1846, leave no doubt



344 'fHE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

as to his Irish origin. Even Appleton's Cyclopedia of American
Biography makes a mistake in this regard, and while admitting
that little or nothing is known of his parents or his own child-
hood, states that he was of Welsh extraction. According to Ap-
pleton's account of his career, which, with this exception, is an
admirable one, Morgan was born in New Jersey about 1736 and
removed to Charlestown, Va., in 1754. In 1755 he began his
military life as a teamster in General Braddock's army, and even
in that humble position did good service in bringing away the
wounded during the rout at the Monongahela. It was during
this expedition that Morgan first became acquainted with Wash-
ington. While connected with the quartermaster's department he
knocked down a British lieutenant, who had struck him with the
flat of his sword, and was punished with five hundred lashes for
the offense. Soon after, at the head of a few backwoodsmen, he
defeated a force of Frenchmen and Indians, for which he was
commissioned an ensign. Later he became engaged in a fierce
woodland fight with Indians in which nearly all his comrades were
slain and Morgan himself was shot through the neck with a mus-
ket ball. Almost fainting with the wound, which at the moment
he supposed to be fatal, he resolved not to leave his scalp in the
hands of an Indian, and falling forward with his arms tightly
clasped about the neck of his stalwart horse, though mists were
gathering before his eyes, he spurred away through the forest
paths until his foremost Indian pursuer, unable to come up with
him, hurled his tomahawk after him with a yell of baffled rage
and gave up the chase. This was the only wound Morgan ever
received.

About 1762 Morgan received a grant of land a few miles east
of Winchester. Va., and devoted himself to farming. He mar-
ried Abigail Bailey, daughter of a farmer in that section, a woman
of rare beauty and lofty character. He named his home the
Soldiers' Rest, but was soon called away from it by Pontiac's
Indian War, in which he served as a lieutenant. From 1765 till
1775 he prospered as a farmer and acquired considerable prop-
erty, though in the meantime he was commissioned captain of
militia and served in Lord Dunmore's war on the frontier in 1773.

In June, 1775, Congress called for ten companies of riflemen
from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, to join the Con-
tinental Army besieging Boston. Morgan was chosen captain of
one of the Virginia companies, consisting of ninety-six men, and
with it arrived in Cambridge about the middle of July, 1775.

In our descriptions of the various battles through which he
passed it will be seen how valiantly he distinguished himself and
what inestimable services he rendered to his country.



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 345

He was forced to leave the army through a violent attack of
rheumatism in August, 1781, and for the next thirteen years he
led a quiet life upon his estate. He became wealthy and enter-
tained many eminent and interesting guests with truly Irish hos-
pitality. In spite of the defects of early education his native
qualities were such as to make his conversation charming and in-
structive.

In 1795 he held the rank of major-general in the army raised
to quell the Whiskey Insurrection. In the following year he was
elected to Congress, but was unable to serve his full term through
failing health, and from that time until his death, in 1802, he sel-
dom left his home.

General Morgan was considerably over six feet in height
and weighed more than two hundred pounds. His strength and
endurance were remarkable and in beauty of feature and expres-
sion he was equalled by few men of his time. His manners were
quiet and refined, his bearing was noble, though his wrath was
easily aroused by injustice. He was noted for truthfulness and
candor and throughout life his conduct was regulated by the most
rigid code of honor. In the procession that accompanied his re-
mains to the tomb were seven members of the rifle company he
had led to Boston seven and twenty years before.

He was buried in the Presbyterian graveyard of Winchester,
and over his remains was placed a plain, horizontal slab, with the
following inscription: "Major-general Daniel Morgan departed
this life on July 6, 1802, in the sixty-seventh year of his age.
Patriotism and valor were the prominent features of his char-
'acter, and the honorable services he rendered to his country
during the Revolutionary war crowned him with glory, and will
remain in the hearts of his countrymen a perpetual monument
to his memory."

His grave to-day, we learn from an article in the Four-Tr^ck
News of a recent date, is sadly neglected, and nothing remains of
the flat stone which originally covered it but a few scattering frag-
ments, the rest having been carried away by vandal hands. "Gen-
eral Morgan," the writer of the article, Mr. J. Cleveland King,
patriotically continues, "for his distinguished services to his coun-
try, deserves more than a neglected grave. He sleeps near thou-
sands of those who wore the blue and the gray, and stately shafts
commemorate their bravery, but over his lonely resting place lies
but a broken stone, and a tattered flag flutters lonesomely in the
wind. In vain has Congress been appealed to, to appropriately
mark the last resting-place of this hero of the Revolution, and the
State of Virginia, whose sons he led in many a battle, has as yet
refused to honor Morgan as he deserves. It is sincerely to be



346 THB IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

hoped that the time is not far distant when a handsome shaft
will rise, proclaiming to all lovers of their country that beneath
it lies one of the tried and trusted companions of Washington —
one of the heroes of that heroic age."

Benson J. Lossing, in his Field Book of the Revolution, thus
describes the arrival of Morgan and his riflemen at the camp
around Boston: "Some riflemen from Maryland, Virginia, and
Western Pennsylvania, enlisted under the orders of Congress, and
led by Daniel Morgan, a man of powerful frame and sterling
courage, soon joined the camp. Upon their breasts they wore the
motto 'Liberty or Death.' A large proportion of them were Irish-
men, and were not very agreeable to the New Englanders. These
men attracted much attention, and, on account of their sure and
deadly aim, they became a terror to the British. Wonderful stories
of their exploits went to England, and one of the riflemen, who
was carried there a prisoner, was gazed at as a great curiosity."

Washington Irving, in his Life of Washington, thus refers
to these wonderful Irish riflemen, although, unlike Lossing, he
does not refer to their nationality :

"Nothing excited more gaze and wonder among the rustic
visitors to the camp than the arrival of several rifle companies,
fourteen hundred men in all, from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and
Virginia — such stalwart fellows as Washington had known in
his early campaigns. Stark hunters and bush fighters ; many of
them upwards of six feet high, and of vigorous frame; dressed
in fringed frocks, or rifle shirts, and round hats. Their displays
of sharpshooting were soon among the marvels of the camp. We
are told that while advancing at quick step they could hit a mark
of seven inches in diameter, at the distance of two hundred and
fifty yards. One of these companies was commanded by Captain
Daniel Morgan, a native of New Jersey, whose first experience
in war had been to accompany Braddock's army as a wagoner.
He had since carried arms on the frontier and obtained a com-
mand. He and his riflemen, in coming to camp, had marched six
hundred miles in three weeks. They will be found of signal ef-
ficiency in the sharpest conflicts of the revolutionary war."

Julian Hawthorne, in his history of the United States, makes
the same omission as Irving with regard to the nationality of the
riflemen, though his writings are more just to Irishmen, more
thoroughly American, and more patriotic in their lessons and
conclusions than any writer of the present day. In his picture
of the Boston Camp he thus graphically describes Morgan and
his men :

"And then there are the fourteen hundred riflemen from the
South, the first troops of the war to respond to a regular call for



THB IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 347

enlisted men. A magnificent body of men they are ; all six-footers,
athletic and vigorous, clad in fringed hunting shirts of deerskin,
with cape on the shoulders, and with moccasins on their light-
stepping feet. Clear-eyed, spirited, sun-tanned faces they have,
and long hair that hangs to their shoulders ; and with those rifles
of theirs they can hit the bulls' eye at three hundred yards. These
fellows march with a swing and a stride ; they camp on the bare
earth and account nothing a hardship but inaction. They are led
by a superb giant near seven feet tall, Daniel Morgan, the Vir-
ginian, and by Hendricks, of Pennsylvania, another Agamemnon.
Though enlisted for a year only, THESE RIFLEMEN STAYED
THROUGH THE WAR ; their motto was trenchant and explicit
— 'Liberty or Death ;' and there were no troops in the army that
better served their country,"

We have dwelt at length on General Morgan and his rifle-
men because of the disposition to ignore them, as well as all other
Irishmen who fought in the Revolution, which exists at the pres-
ent day. The reception which the Irish riflemen met in Boston,
after coming hundreds of miles from their own homes to fight and
die in behalf of its people — and were the first, as Hawthorne says,
to respond to the call of freedom — was typical of the noxious
bigotry which then existed in New England, and which is not yet
thoroughly eradicated from its soil, though our people have won-
derfully grown in numbers, wealth, and power in spite of it.
Washington himself, when he went to Massachusetts as Com-
mander-in-Chief, was shocked at the rancor of this deep-seated
prejudice and did all in his power to stamp it out. In a general
order to his army, dated November 5, 1775, he thus set the seal
of his stern condemnation on one of its meanest features — the
celebration of "Pope's Night," which annually occurred on that
date, and wound up by burning the effigy of the Pope :

"November 5. — As the Commander-in-Chief has been ap-
prised of a design formed for the observance of that ridiculous
and childish custom of burning the effigy of the Pope, he cannot
help expressing his surprise that there should be officers and sol-
diers in this army so void of common sense as not to see the im-
propriety of such a step at this juncture; at a time when we are
soliciting, and have already obtained, the friendship and alliance
of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as brethren
embarked on the same cause — the defense of the liberty of Amer-
ica; at this juncture, and under such circumstances, to be insulting
their religion is so monstrous as not to be suffered or excused;
indeed, instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty
to address public thanks to these our brethren, as to them we
are indebted for every late happy success over the common enemy
in Canada."



348 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

This diabolical custom, which was the offspring of Guy
Fawkes Day in England, received its death blow at the hands of
the noble Washington while laying siege to Boston and entirely
disappeared after the Revolution.

Washington painted a true picture of those New England
bigots in his letter to his business agent at Mount Vernon, dated
at the camp, August 20, 1775, which Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet
recently discovered and published, and now holds the original in
his possession. Here is Washington's estimate of the men mean
enough to insult the brave soldiers who hastened to their aid and
were willing to die in their behalf :

"The people of this government have obtained a character
which they by no means deserved — their officers, generally speak-
ing, are the most indifferent kind of people I ever saw. I have
already broke one colonel and five captains for cowardice, and
for drawing more pay and provisions than they had men in their
companies — there are two more colonels now under arrest, to be
tried for the same offenses — in short, they are by no means such
troops, in any respect, as you are led to believe of them from the
accounts which are published, but I need not make myself enemies
among them, by this declaration, although it is consistent with
truth. I dare say the men would fight very well (if properly of-
ficered) although they are an exceedingly dirty and nasty people.
Had they been properly conducted at Bunker Hill (on the 17th
of June), or those that were there properly supported, the regu-
lars would have met with a shameful defeat; and a much more
considerable loss than they did, which is now known to be ex-
actly 1,057, killed and wounded — it was for their behavior on that
occasion that the above officers were broke, for I never spared
one that was accused of cowardice, but brought them to imme-
diate trial."

If the fate of the United States rested in the hands of such
cravens as Washington describes it is safe to say that they would
still be in the merciless grasp of England. AND IT IS ALSO
BUT GOD'S TRUTH TO ASSERT, WITHOUT FEAR OF
SUCCESSFUL CONTRADICTION, THAT TO THE IRISH
PEOPLE AND THE WHOLE-HEARTED MANNER IN
WHICH THEY THREW THEMSELVES INTO THE
BREACH AT THE CRUCIAL MOMENT, IS MAINLY DUE
THE INDEPENDENCE OF THIS COUNTRY.

This is the fact which so deeply galls England and makes
her go to such extremes to change the history of the United
States. But for the Irish in the Revolution she would have tri-
umphed over the colonists, and but for the Irish of to-day she
would enmesh this Republic in her wars against humanity. Eng-



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 349

land drove the Irish from their homes and mercilessly scattered
them to the four winds of heaven, but they left their country
with a just vengeance in their hearts that will yet humble her in
every country on the globe.

While Washington was organizing his army around Boston
King George and his Parliament were busy with schemes to crush
the struggling colonists. Having no soldiers of his own to spare
for the American conflict, the King made an urgent appeal to
Catherine of Russia to sell him the use of twenty thousand of
her soldiers, but that good Queen indignantly denied his impudent
request and roundly rated him for his inhuman proposal. Even
at that distant day Russia proved the friend of Am.erica.

Not deeming it in any way out of place to hire mercenaries
to kill his own subjects, King George turned with success to the
petty German Princes, who were hungering for his money. In
vain was he reminded by such men as Burke and Barre of the
barbarity of his action, and the British Parliament likewise turned
a deaf ear to all protest and passed the motion to hire the German
troops by a vote of 242 to 48. An army of 17,526 fierce Hes-
sians, at a cost to England of $775,000, was thus procured and let
loose on the colonists — as brutal a horde of ruffians as ever out-
raged humanity.

With the savage Indian on one side and the ferocious Hes-
sian on the other England was in congenial company, and she not
only equalled both in their inhuman excesses, but she was more
guilty than either, as she was in nearly every instance the insti-
gator of their monstrous crimes.

As an evidence of how heartless, mercenary, and entirely
void of Christian feeling the Hessian princes were, in bartering
the blood of their people, we print the following letter written
by the Electoral Prmce of Hesse-Cassel after the battle of Tren-
ton:

"You cannot think how much pleased I was to hear that,
out of the nineteen hundred and fifty-five Hessians who took part
in the battle, no more than three hundred and forty-five remain.
There are, accordingly, sixteen hundred and ten dead — no more
and no less, and so the treasury owes me, according to our con-
tract, 634,000 florins. The Court of London says, it is true, that
some hundred of them are ONLY WOUNDED, WHO CAN-
NOT BE PAID FOR LIKE THE DEAD ; but I hope that, re-
mindful of the instructions given to you at Cassel, you have not
tried to save with human help, those poor fellows who could have
bought life only at the sacrifice of a leg or an arm. That would
be a sad present to them, and I am sure they prefer to die glorious-
ly rather than live lamed and unfit for my service. Remember



350 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

that out of the three hundred Spartans but one remained in life.
Oh, how happy would I be if I could say the same of my brave
Hessians."

"The English Government," writes Julian Hawthorne, "em-
barked in the war with every accompaniment of tyranny, injus-
tice, cruelty, and dishonor; but perhaps nothing less was needed
to emancipate the colonists from their chains of loyalty. Mrs.
John Adams spoke to the point when she said : 'Let us separate ;
they are unworthy to be our brethren. Let us renounce them,
and instead of supplications as formerly, for their prosperity and
happiness, let us beseech the Almighty to blast their counsels
and bring to naught all their devices.' "

Of the action of the British within Boston, where they had
the people at their mercy, Hawthorne is equally as severe. "North
Church," he writes, "from whose tower had hung the signal lan-
terns that told Paul Revere what message « he must carry, was
torn down by the soldiers and its fragments used for fuel. In the
Old South, where the meeting had been held previous to the
throwing of the tea into Boston harbor, a dragoon regiment was
domiciled and the troopers were drilled in riding evolutions.
Liberty Tree was cut down by the order of Gage, who perhaps
hoped as easily to cut down tlie aspirations for freedom with the
inceptions of so many of which the Tree had been associated.



Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 37 of 67)