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

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fitted up for himself with canvas between the decks, in which
he was kindly allowed by the occupant to remain until the ship
arrived in America.

"When it was known at Cork that Colonel Allen and his
fellow-prisoners were in the harbor on board the Solebay, several
gentlemen of that city determined to convey to them substantial
evidences of their sympathy. A full suit of clothes was sent to
each of the privates and Colonel Allen's wardrobe was replenished
with fine broadcloth sufficient for two suits, eight shirts and
stocks, ready made ; several pairs of silk and worsted hose, shoes,
and two beaver hats, one of which was richly adorned with gold
lace. Nor did the bounty of the philanthropists of Cork end here.
Although they had clotlied the naked they did not consider the
work of benevolence finished until they had fed the hungry. A
profuse supply of sea-stores came on board for Colonel Allen,
consisting of sugar, coffee, tea, chocolate, pickled beef, fat
turkeys, wines, old spirits, and other articles for a voyage. Each
of the privates also received tea and sugar. Added to this, a
gentleman visited Colonel Allen, in behalf of the donors, and of-
fered him fifty guineas, which, after the other tokens of their
munificence, he declined to accept, retaining only seven guineas
as a relief in case of pressing necessity.

"The above articles v ere admitted on board by the second
Ueutenant, while his supenors were on shore; but when the cap-
tain returned and was informed what had been done, he was
angry and swore that 'the American rebels should not be feasted
at this rate by the rebels of Ireland.' He took away all the
liquors except a small quantity, which was secreted by the con-
nivance of the second lieutenant, and he appropriated to the use
of the crew all the tea and sugar that had been given to the

We have given Colonel Allen's own version of this matter
before, but as he is now generally alluded to as dealing only in
high-sounding and extravagant phrases we supplement his state-
ment with that of Jared Sparks. The truth is, Allen was a
whole-souled, earnest man, who went no further in words than he
stood prepared to go in action. While he was in New York, in
1777, he witnessed the cruelties to which his countrymen were
subjected on the prison-hulks in the harbor and in the sugar-
houses and churches in the city. "He had," continues Sparks,
"an opportunity of witnessing the wretched condition and ex-
treme sufferings of the American prisoners who had been taken
in the battle on Long Island and at Fort Washington, and who


were left to perish of cold and hunger and sickness in the churches
of New York. He speaks of these scenes as the most painful and
revolting that could be conceived. Indeed, numerous concur-
ring testimonies have established it as a fact, of which not a
shadow of doubt can now be entertained, that human misery has
seldom been seen in such heart-rending forms or under circum-
stances so aggravating. The motives of the enemy for practic-
ing or permitting cruelties so little consonant to the dictates of
humanity, the customs of civilized warfare and every principle
of sound policy, are not a fit theme of inquiry in this narrative.
The fact itself is an indelible stain, deep and dark, in the character
of Sir William Howe, which no array of private virtues, of mili-
tary talents, or public acts, will hide or obscure. The picture
drawn by Allen, colored as it may be by the ardor of his feelings,
is vivid and impressive and its accuracy is confirmed by the dec-
larations of other persons, who also related what they saw.

"While he was on parole in New York, a British officer of
rank and importance, sent for him to his lodging and told him
that his fidelity, though in a wrong cause, had made an impres-
sion on General Howe, who was disposed to show him a favor,
and to advance him to the command of a regiment of loyalists if
he would join the service, holding out to him at the same time,
brilliant prospects of promotion and money during the war, and
large tracts of land at its close. Allen replied, 'that if, by faith-
fulness, he had recommended himself to General Howe, he should
be loth by unfaithfulness to lose the General's good opinion ;' and
as to lands he was by no means satisfied that the King would
possess a sufficient quantity in the United States at the end of
the war to redeem any pledges on that score. The officer sent
him away as an incorrigible and hopeless subject."

In writing to the Assembly of his native State, Connecticut,
Colonel Allen says that he had suffered everything but death,
but his old spirit came through the ordeal undiminished by his
persecutions. "I am fired," he writes, "with adequate indignation
to revenge both my own and my country's wrongs. I am ex-
perimentally certain I have fortitude sufficient to face the in-
vaders of America in the place of danger, spread with all the
horrors of war. Provided you can hit upon some measure to se-
cure my Hberty, I will appropriate my remaining days and freely
hazard my life in the service of the colony and maintaining the
American empire. I thought to have enrolled my name in the
list of illustrious American heroes, but was nipped in the bud."

"Honest Ethan Allen," writes Irving in commentmg on
this letter, "his name will ever stand enrolled on that list; not
illustrious, perhaps, but eminently popular."


Colonel Allen was not released from prison until May 3,
1778. His first mission, after regaining his freedom, in Eliza-
beth, N. J., was to proceed to Valley Forge to thank Washington
personally for the deep interest he had taken in his case. On the
way to the American camp and back to his old home in Vermont
he was enthusiastically received by the people and accorded the
affectionate welcome which he deserved.

Washington Irving quotes liberally from the correspond-
ence of Washington and Howe on the subject of prisoners and
their treatment. "We have quoted this correspondence the more
freely," he writes, "because it is on a subject deeply worn into
the Ainerican mind, and about which we have heard too many
particulars, from childhood upwards, from persons of unques-
tionable veracity, who suffered in the cause, to permit us to doubt
about the fact. The Jersey Prison Ship is proverbial in our
Revolutionary history, and the bones of the unfortunate patriots
who perished on board form a monument on the Long Island
shore. The horrors of the sugar-house, converted into a prison,
are traditional in New York ; and the brutal tyranny of Cunning-
ham, the provost-marshal, over men of worth confined in the
common jail for the sin of patriotism, has been handed down
from generation to generation.

"That Lord Howe and Sir William were ignorant of the
extent of these atrocities we really believe, but it was their duty
to be well-informed. There is not a doubt, too, that a feeling
of contumely deprived the patriot prisoners of all sympathy in
the early stages of the Revolution. They were regarded ?.s crim-
inals, rather than captives. The stigma of rebels seemed to take
from them all the indulgence, scanty and miserable as they are,
usually granted prisoners of war. The British oflicers looked
down with haughty contempt upon the American officers who had
fallen into their hands. The British soldiery treated them with
insolent scurrility. It seemed as if the very ties of consanguinity
rendered their hostility more intolerant, for it was observed that
American prisoners were better treated by the Hessians than by
the British. It was not until our countrymen had made them-
selves formidable by their successes that they were treated, when
prisoners, with common decency and humanity."

It was the old story of England's idea of fair play, from
which all struggling peoples under her dominion may well take a
lesson. England will never grant just treatment to others until
beaten to her knees and compelled to do it by superior force, and
even then, as John Dillon says, she will try to draw back with her
left hand what she has already given with the right.

The capture of General Lee was a deep source of trouble


to Washington, and seriously embarrassed him with regard to
the exchange of other prisoners. He was most anxious to secure
the release of Lee, in order to restore him to the army, but had he
known his real character he would have left him in the hands of
the enemy, where he properly belonged. The' British pretended
to treat him as a deserter, but in reality he had become a traitor
to the American cause, and imparted to the Howes all the advice
and information in his power — knowledge which they most suc-
cessfully employed in their campaigns of 1777 — and the Howes,
who fraudulently posed as honorable gentlemen, hoodwinked
Washington in this respect.

Soon after his capture, Lee, feeling his neck in danger, in-
formed the British commanders that he was opposed to the Dec-
laration of Independence, although before the adoption of that
immortal instrument, he had written to Patrick Henry strongly
in its favor. He convinced the Howes that, if he could obtain
an interview with a committee of Congress, he would be able to
open negotiations for a satisfactory adjustment of all existing
difficulties, and they allowed him to ask for this conference, but
Congress wisely refused to grant it.

"As soon as this conference was refused," says the writer of
the Lee article in Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography,
"Lee straightway went over to the enem^' and sought to curry
favor with the Howes by giving them aid and counsel for the
next campaign against the Americans. He went so far as to
write out for them a plan of operations. After the disastrous re-
sult of the campaigns of 1777 the brothers did not wish to disclose
the secret of their peculiar obligations to such an adviser, and
Lee's papers remained hidden in their domestic archives until
1857. A fac simile of it is given in George H. Moore's mono-
ograph on the 'Treason of Charles Lee' (New York, 1858). The
paper is in Lee's handwriting, folded and endorsed as 'Mr. Lee's
Plan — 29th March, 1777.' The endorsement is in the hand-
writing of Henry Strachey, Secretary to the Royal Commis-
sioners, Lord and Sir William Howe. In this paper Lee express-
ly abandons the American cause, enters 'sincerely and zealously'
into the plans of the British commanders, and recommends an
expedition to Chesapeake Bay, essentially similar to that which
was actually undertaken in the following summer. This advice
seems to throw light upon the movements of General Howe in
July and August, 1777, which were formerly regarded as so
strange. If anything had been known about these treacherous
shifts on the part of Lee he certainly would never have been taken
back into the American service. As nothing was known about
the matter, he was exchanged early in May, 1778, and joined


Washington's army at Valley Forge. It is not altogether easy
to see why he should have returned to his place in the American
army unless it may have been with the intention of playing into
the hands of the enemy; nor, except upon some such theory, is
it easy to see why the British commander should have acquiesced
in his return."

Though the actual proof of Lee's treachery was not produced
for eighty years after its occurrence, the course of his after life
bore many evidences of his guilt, and it is one of the strangest
incidents of the Revolution that he maintained for such a length
of time the sympathy and respect of so many decent people. He
was slovenly in dress, dirty in person, repulsive in feature, rude
in manner, and always ready with disagreeable and sarcastic
remarks, and these characteristics in themselves should have
been sufficient to condemn him, or at least to put honest men on
their guard against him.

In happy contrast to the revolting characteristics of Lee and
Gates and other Englishmen were the manly qualities of the dis-
tinguished French, German, and PoUsh gentlemen who came
hither with Lafayette, in the early summer of 1777. They came
to fight for Liberty and Independence and not for the advance-
ment of their personal fortunes. Sincere in their friendship, they
extended their help without pretension or bargain and sought
nothing in return.

Lafayette placed not only his sword but his fortune at the
disposal of the Americans and brought with him a ship filled
with stores for their cause. On his arrival in Philadelphia he
sent a note to the President of Congress, in which he asked per-
mission to serve in the Continental Army upon two conditions —
first, that he should receive no pay ; secondly, that he should act
as a volunteer. These conditions were so different from those
demanded by other foreigners, that they were at once accepted
by Congress. Although he was not yet twenty years of age, the
peculiar position in which his wealth, fervent zeal, and social
eminence at home placed him before the American people, gave
him great importance, and on July 31, I777» Congress appointed
him a major-general by the adoption of the following preamble
and resolution : ,

"Whereas, The Marquis de Lafayette, out of his great zeal
to the cause of liberty, in which the United States are engaged,
has left his family and connections, and, at his own expense, come
over to offer his services to the United States, without pension
or particular allowance, and is anxious to risk his life in our
cause :

"Resolved, That his services be accepted and that, in con-


sideration of his zeal, illustrious family, and connections, he have
the rank and commission of major-general in the army of the
United States."

Congress never had cause to repent the adoption of that
earnest resolution. Lafayette became the bosom and life-long
friend of Washington and he rendered such signal service to the
struggling colonies in their most drear}' days that his name will
always be honored in this country as second only to that of the
illustrious Washington himself.

Too many cold and calculating comments have been indulged
in by prejudiced writers as to the incentives which actuated the
French nation in coming to the assistance of America in her time
of need and at the turning point of her fortunes. It ought to be
enough, and we believe it is enough to genuine Americans, that
France sent her fleets and troops here at a crucial time to ensure
for her their undying gratitude. Whatever may have been the
motives of the French King or his Ministers, they should not
be questioned as long as they supplied the means — and we be-
lieve one of the greatest means — to bring about the independence
of America. Volumes of heartless writing cannot blot out the
fact nor deprive the French soldiers, like Lafayette, Rochambeau,
and Count Dillon, the honors which they won by their bravery
and devotion in the battles of the Revolution.

Of all the nationalities who made up the sum total of the
fighting forces of Freedom tlie records prove that the Irish con-
tributed more men and officers than all other races combined.
Next to them come the French, though they, with the exception
of Lafayette and his companions, were sent by their government
as an organized force and did not volunteer individually like the
Irish, but their strength was a mighty agency in the victories
which crowned American arms. The Irish regiments in the
service of France claimed the right to be sent against the heredi-
tar\- enemies of their race who were fighting to destroy the lib-
erties of America as they did those of Ireland.

Lafayette, in addition to his services as a brave soldier and
able general, was also deeply interested in the advancement of
literature and science in America. It was his financial assistance
that enabled Matthew Carey to estabUsh his first newspaper in
Philadelphia, in 1784. When Carey was fifteen years of age, in
his native city of Dublin, his father, who was a baker, gave him
a list of twenty-five trades from which to make the choice of his
life-work. He selected the business of printer and bookseller
and two years later he published an address to Irish Catholics,
which was so truthful and patriotic that he was obliged to fly to


Paris to avoid prosecution by the English Government, bein^
thus the forerunner of Wolfe Tone and the Ninety-eight men in
their great work of arousing the Irish people to a sense of their

In Paris Carey met Benjamin Franklin, and through him
became acquainted wth Lafayette. Franklin employed him for
a year in the service of the United States, after which he return-
ed to Ireland and established the Volunteer's Journal, which, by
its bold and able opposition to the Government became a power
in politics and eventually brought about the legislative independ-
ence of Ireland. But his fearless course again placed him behind
prison bars and he finally left Ireland for good and arrived in
Philadelphia on November 15, 1784. There, as we have said,
through the financial aid of Lafayette, he established the Penn-
sylvania Herald, the first newspaper in the United States that
furnished accurate reports of legislative debates, Carey acting as
his own reporter. Mathew Carey was the father of the protec-
tive system in America — not the tariff s}'stem we have now,
which fosters the power and accumulation of wealth to the injury
of the masses, but that intended to protect struggling industries
against foreign competition and enable them to pay decent wages
to American workingmen. He was also the founder of a pub-
lishing house which afterwards became, under the management
of his son, Henry Charles Carey, the largest in the United States.
The son also advocated protection, but only as a means to free
trade when the industries were firmly established. Had his ideas
of protection been carried out there would now be no trusts or
unscrupulous combinations threatening the very existence of our
political system.

Without the Irish and the French there could have been no
successful revolution in America. The colonists might have in-
dignantly endeavored to throw off their slavery, but, having
no Irish to bear the brunt of the battle or starve through long and
hopeless campaigns, they would have been crushed into submis-
sion by the overpowering forces of England.

In this regard we have received a most interesting docu-
ment from Mr. Patrick Tiemey, of Litchfield, Conn., as to the
origin of the Revolutionary generals. As Mr. Tierney is a Gaelic
scholar of abilit>' and well versed in the ancient and modern his-
tory of Ireland, he is qualified to speak of the derivation of Irish
names and the early migrations of his people. We are not so
radical in our claims as Mr. Tierney, nor do we go so far back
in our researches, but his conclusions are founded on truth and
are well worthy of being included in these records :


Litchfield, Conn., March 5, 1906.
P. J. Haltigan, Editor of the National Hibernian.

Dear Sir: — In the last issue of the National Hibernian, in
your Revolutionary history, I see no reference to the treason of
General Charles Lee, who was born in Dernhall, Cheshire, Eng-
land, nor of the treason of Dumont, in the capture of Fort Wash-

There were about twenty generals in the Revolution who
were English, or of English descent, and about half of these were
tainted with treason. There were fourteen Welsh generals, the
people of that gallant little nation being haters of tyranny and
more bitter against the English than even the Irish. Their his-
toric family names prove they were Irish originally, and settled
in Wales and Cornuba (Cornwall^ in the second, third, and fourth
centuries. During the reign 01 Carbery LifiFecar, A. D. 267,
Caransius, a native of Menapie (Mona or Munster) in Ireland,
became the King of Britain for seven years. He was an Irish ad-
miral in the Roman navy. The Menapians of North Wales were,
of course, Fir-mona or Munster men, and were also called
Caransii from his name.

In A. D. 300 a part of the powerful tribe of Deisi, now Tip-
perary and Waterford, then called North and South Deisi, set-
tled in Wales. In a recent volume of Y. Cymaroder, Professor
Kuno Meyer points out that in the Irish history of the expulsion
of the Deisi we have an account of an Irish settlement in Wales
during the third century, as follows : "Eochaidh, son of Art
Cobb, went over the sea with his descendants into the territory
of Demed, and it is there that his sons and grandsons died, and
from them is the race of Crimthawn (Griffin, Craven, etc.) over
there." The history gives a succession of fourteen generations,
descended in the male line from E/Dchaidh, now Called Hues,
Hewes, or Hughes, etc.

There was a Castle Hoel or Hailey in County Mayo. Now
I find that Hoel or Howel is the same name as Hailey, Healey,
Hawley, Halv, Howley, Soley, Foley, Kelvey, or Kelway, etc.,
and was originally Mac Ua Chaluigh, O'Foghluigh, of O'Fhaigh-
luigh. The crest on the arms of most of those families is the
red dragon of Wales. The Hoels were originally Irish. Hoel,
the Good, married an Irish girl; Uter Pen Dragons' real name
was Mulgown. St. David's grandfather was Irish or of Irish
parents. His name was Caradig, hence the name Cardiganshire.
The first of the Cath-moladers or Cadwaladers were Irish. Cad-
walader or the good St. Cedd was probably Irish born, and was
buried in Litchfield, in Stafford. There were two more of that


name, one bom in Wales and one in Brittany, but were all of
Irish or Leinster stock.

The Leinster arms is a harp and a green field. It is said the
Welsh also used the harp and green banner. The Saxons gave
Wales its proper name, Walisch or Gaelisch. The Prince of
Wales is in French still called Le Prince de Gaulos. That is also
evidence that they were Irish.

You may ask what all this has to do with the Revolution?
My answer is — Hades would freeze over before this country
would be independent if it were not for the Irish and the Welsh.
Nearly all the Signers were Irish and Welsh. There were only
a few English and two Scotch Signers. The Irish and Welsh
generals of the Revolution, or their ancestors, including those
who became generals before the War of 1812, numbered about
eighty-four. Even then, if it were not for the timely aid of
France, Old Glory might have gone down in defeat.

I should also state that there were about eight Scotch, ten
German, or Dutch, two Polish, and about twenty-five French
generals. The worst enemies of the patriots were the Tories.
They nimibered about 50,000 and had some of the best generals,
as Delancey, who was the general who afterwards defeated Na-
poleon, Wellington and Napoleon being both sick at the time.
There were also 29,000 Hessians and 12,000 Indians paid for.

The Tories included those of English Puritan descent, those
now called Scotch-Irish or Orangemen, and those of French
Hugenot descent who came from England. The Hugenots who
came from Ireland were mostly on the American side. Cromwell
was the great head of the Puritans and those who were dispos-
sessed of their lands in Ireland by the Puritans, were the most
bitter against the English in America.

Most of our histories are written by enemies of our race,
who are well paid for it, while others copy them, believing with-
out investigating. I cannot here give the Gaelic origfin of all our
Revolutionary generals, but I will give you a few of their orig-
inal clan or religious names. In my opinion the battle of Ben-
nington was the decisive battle of the Revolution. The hero was
General Stark, and his parents were Sharkeys, O'Searchaigh,
from St. Searca, of Rossercia and Rosserk Abbey, County Mayo.

General Wayne — Mac Giolla Bhain or Macgillwayne.

General Mefflin — Mac Goilla na Bhflainn.

Generals Reed, Reade, or Reid— St. Creade, O'Mulcrede or

Generals Lee or Leigh (not Charles)— O'Mac Liag or Giolla
Mac Laig, in Latin Gillesius.


General and Admiral Roane or Rowen — St. Rudhair or Ro-
dir; hence Mac Giolla Rudhair, Gillrone, Elrone, etc.

General Glover — St. Labradha, hence Mac Gillover, Lover,
Lever, etc.

Generals Clark, Clarke, Clery, Clair— O'Mul Clearaich, Mul-

Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 45 of 67)