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tempts were made to rally the militia, but they were not only scat-
tered but confused at this sudden and unexpected resumption
of hostilities.




(CHARLES THOMSON,
Sbckbtajcy of the Continental Congress)



458



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOI.UTION. 459

counters of the war occurred, in which many of the Americans
were killed and the brave General Herkimer mortally wounded.

Before St. Leger's forces were scattered, however, thy suc-
ceeded in inflicting terrible injury on the country through which
they passed, both the British and the Indians vieing with each
other in the barbarity of their depredations.

There was now no hope for Burgoyne except through Corn-
wallis, and even that soon faded away. The American army
was strongly reinforced from all quarters, and though Gates suc-
ceeded Schuyler in the command, which was one of the badly
advised changes of Congress against the wishes of Washington,
it stood like a rock between Burgoyne and Albany.

Finding his progress stopped by the American intrenchments
at Bemis's Heights, nine miles south of Saratoga village, Bur-
goyne endeavored to extricate himself from his perilous position
by fighting. Two battles were fought on nearly the same ground,
one on the 19th of September and the other on the 7th of Oc-
tober. These encounters are variously called the battles of Bemis's
Heights, Stillwater, and Saratoga, but they were both fought at
Bemis's Heights, so called from being owned by a man narned
Bemis, who kept a noted tavern on the Albany road, four miles
north of the village of Stillwater in the County of Saratoga.

The first battle was indecisive, but the second resulted in so
complete a rout for the British that, leaving his sick and wounded
to the care and compassion of the Americans, Burgoyne retreated
to the village of Saratoga. Here, finding that his provisions were
giving out, with his retreat cut oflf, and that there was no chance
of escape, he capitulated with his entire army on October 17, 1777.

This event was the turning-point in the American Revolu-
tion. It secured the alliance with France and lifted the clouds of
moral and financial gloom that were crushing the American lead-
ers. And of the soldiers who brought it about it may be truly
stated that the great majority of them were men of the Irish race.
This is especially true of the men who won the battle of Ben-
nington.

Of Colonel Dan Morgan and his regiment of Irish sharp-
shooters Appleton's American Biography has this to say of their
services in the Northern Army :

"During July the progress of Burgoyne, in his descent into
Northern New York, made it desirable to effect as strong a con-
centration as possible to oppose him, and on August 16 Morgan
was sent with his regiment to join the army near Stillwater, of
which Gates had lately taken command. 'From this force of
about five hundred picked men,' said Washington in a letter to



460 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

Governor George Clinton, 'I expect the most eminent services,'
and he was not disappointed.

"In the bloody battle of September 19. in which Arnold frus-
trated Burgoyne's attempt to dislodge the American left wing
from Bemis's Heights. Morgan played a principal part ; and in the
final conflict of October 7th, in which the British army was
wrecked, his services were equally eminent. It is said that when
Burgoyne was introduced to Morgan, after the surrender at Sara-
toga, he seized him by the hand and exclaimed, 'My dear sir, you
command the finest regiment in the world !' In the great work
of overthrowing Burgoyne, the highest credit is due to jMorgan,
along with Arnold, Herkimer, and Stark.

"After the victory Gates was unwilling to send Morgan and
his regiment back to Washington, and it was only with some dif-
ficulty that the sorely tried commander-in-chief succeeded in ob-
taining them."

Richard Butler, of the Kilkenny family of that name, was
lieutenant-colonel of Morgan's regiment at this time and played
a distinguished part in the campaign, as did also his brother
Pierce, v.-ho commanded one of the companies.

Of the second battle of Bemis's Heights Lossing writes : "Ar-
nold and Morgan were the ruling spirits that controlled the storm
on the part of the Americans, and General Fraser was the direct-
ing soul of the British. It was evident that the fate of the battle
rested upon him, and this the keen eye and sure judgment of
Morgan perceived. In an instant his purpose was conceived,
and calling a file of his best men around him, he said, as he point-
ed toward the British right, 'That gallant officer is General
Fraser. I admire and honor him, but it is necessary that he
should die ; victory for the enemy depends upon him. Take your
stations in that clump of bushes and do your duty.' Within five
minutes Fraser fell mortally wounded and was carried to the
camp by two grenadiers.

"^iorgan has been censured for this order by those who
profess to understand the rules of war, and others, who gloat
over the details of the slaying of thousands of humble rank and
file men as deeds worthy of a shout for glory, afifect to shudder
at such a cold-blooded murder of an officer upon the battlefield.
But if it is right to kill at all upon the field of battle I can per-
ceive no greater wrong in slaying a general than a private. His
life is no dearer to himself and wife and children and friends than
that of the humblest private who obeys his commands. If Daniel
Morgan was guilty of no sin, no dishonor, in ordering his men to
fall upon and slay those under the command of Fraser, he was also
guiltless of sin and dishonor in ordering the sacrifice of their



THE IRISH IN The; AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 461

chief. Indeed, it is probable that the sacrifice of his Hfe saved
that of hundreds, for the slaughter was stayed."

In Simm's history of Schoharie County it is stated that the
name of the soldier who killed General Fraser was Timothy
Murphy, an Irishman. He took sure aim from a small tree in
which he was posted, and saw Fraser fall on the discharge of his
rifle. Fraser told his friends before he died that he saw the man
who shot him, and that he was in a tree. Murphy afterward ac-
companied General Sullivan in his expedition in Western New
York, where he had a narrow escape from death. In the fall of
1778, while stationed in Schoharie County, he became enamored
of a young girl of sixteen, who reciprocated his affection, though
he was twelve years her senior. Her parents opposed the union,
but they were married and lived happily together for many years.
Though a man of little education. Murphy possessed a strong
intellect and wielded a great influence among the people. He
became a terror to the Indians and Tories in Schoharie County.
He used a double-barreled rifle, and the Indians, seeing him fire
twice without stopping to load, supposed that he could fire as
often as he pleased in the same manner.

George Reid, one of the Londonderry, N. H., Irish, com-
manded a regiment of that State at Bemis's Heights and was pres-
ent at the surrender of Burgoyne. He had already distinguished
himself at Bunker Hill and elsewhere, and was made brigadier-
general of New Hampshire militia in 1785.

Colonel Gregg, who made the first advance on Colonel Baum
at Bennington, was the son of James Gregg, who emigrated from
Ireland to Londonderry, N. H., and was the founder of the

family. r t • u

Captain William Scott, of the Northern Army, was of Irish
descent. His father, Alexander Scott, emigrated from Ireland
and was one of the first settlers in Peterborough, N. H. In 1775
William was a lieutenant in one of the Massachusetts regiments
and fought with great courage at Bunker Hill. His leg was frac-
tured early in the battle, but he continued fighting until, receiving
other wounds, he fell and was taken prisoner. He was taken to
Halifax upon the evacuation of Boston, but escaped from there
by undermining the walls of his prison. He was in Fort Wash-
ington at the time of its surrender and was the only person who
escaped— gaining his liberty by swimming the Hudson, a mile m
width at night. Preferring a position in the New Hampshire
line he accepted a captaincy in Colonel Cilley's regiment and
fought with it from Ticonderoga to the surrender of P.urgoync.
He served in General Sullivan's army in Rhode Island till 17S1,
when he entered the naval service on board the frigate Dane and



462 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

continued in that service until the close of the war. He died at
Litchfield, N. Y., in 1796, aged fifty-six years.

Colonel Daniel Moore commanded the Ninth Regiment of
New Hampshire Militia. He led the regiment at Bennington and
participated in the stormy scenes prior to and at the surrender
of Burgoyne. He was the son of John Moore, who emigrated
from Ireland and settled in Londonderry.

Colonel Michael Jackson, with his Eighth Regiment of the
Massachusetts Line, took a prominent part in both battles at
Bemis's Heights and well earned the privilege of witnessing Bur-
goyne give up his sword.

From the prominence of Dutch names as commanding of-
ficers of the regular soldiers and militia in New York State dur-
ing the Revolution, and the frequent mention made of Van
Schaick's Regiment, Gansevoort's Regiment, etc., the casual
reader might come to the conclusion that the soldiers of liberty
in New York were nearly all Dutch. Such, however, is far from
being the case.

John D. Crimmins, in his Irish Historical Miscellany, prints
the following list of commissioned officers, with distinctively Irish
names, who served in the militia and line regiments of New
York, nearly all of whom distinguished themselves in the North-
ern Army and>in defense of the towns and forts along the Hud-
son:

Barrett, Quartermaster James, Fourth Regiment of the Line.

Burns, Captain Francis, Third Regiment, Ulster County
Militia.

Campbell, Lieutenant Patrick, Fourth Regiment, Tryon
County Militia.

Cannon, Captain James, the Levies (Colonel Marinus Wil-
lett).

Crane, Colonel Thaddeus, Fourth Regiment, Westchester
County Militia.

Crane, Lieutenant William, Fourth Regiment, the Line.

Clinton, Colonel James, Third Regiment, the Line.

Crane, Surgeon Joseph, Jr., Third Regiment, Dutchess
County Militia.

Cochran, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert, Second Regiment, the
Line.

Coleman, Lieutenant Timothy, the Levies (Colonel Albert
Pawling).

Connolly, Captain Michael, Second Regiment, the Line.

Connor, Quartermaster Edward, the Levies (Colonel Albert
Pawling).



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOI^UTION. 463

Cullin, Lieutenant Charles, Seventh Regiment, Dutchess
County Militia.

Dunn, Ensign John, Colonel C. D. Wynkoop's Regiment of
Militia.

Fleming, Captain Peter, Second Regiment, Westchester
County Militia,

Gillespy, Major John, Fourth Regiment, Ulster County
Militia.

Griffin, Lieutenant Stephen, Second Regiment, the Line.

Hicks, Captain Thomas, Twelfth Regiment, Albany County
Militia.

Hicks, Ensign Thomas, First Regiment, the Line.

Hogan, Captain Jarivan, Third Regiment, Albany County
Militia.

Hogan, Lieutenant Henry, First Regiment, Albany County
Militia.

Hughes, Captain Timothy, Additional Regiment, the Line.

Hughes, Major James M., the Levies (Colonel John Harper).

Kane, Lieutenant James, Fourth Regiment, Ulster County
Militia.

Kelly, Ensign Zebedee, Seventh Regiment, Dutchess County
Militia.

Leonard, Lieutenant John, Fifth Regiment, Albany County
Militia.

Logan, Major Samuel, Fifth Regiment, the Line.

Lyon, Captain David, First Regiment, the Line.

Lyon, Lieutenant James, Fourth Regiment, Ulster County
Militia.

Magee, Captain James, the Levies (Colonel Morris Graham).

Magee, Lieutenant Peter, First Regiment, the Line.

Mahoney, Ensign John, Thirteenth Regiment, Albany County
Militia.

Martin, Captain Daniel, Sixth Regiment, Dutchess County
Militia.

Martin, Lieutenant Peter, Fourteenth Regiment, Albany
County Militia.

Martin, Lieutenant, Third Regiment, the Line.

McBride, Captain James, Second Regiment, Ulster County

Militia. . tn t • n

McBride, Captain John, the Levies (Colonel Lewis Dubois).
McClaghry, Colonel James, Second Regiment, Ulster County

Militia. . , r •

McClaughry, Lieutenant John, Second Regiment, the Line.
McConnell, Adjutant Hugh, the Levies (Colonel Lewis Du-
bois). , T •
McCracken, Major Joseph, First Regiment, the Line.



464 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

McCreary, Ensign John, Third Regiment, Westchester
County Militia.

McCune, Lieutenant William, Second Regiment, the Line.

McDonald, Quartermaster James, Second Regiment, West-
chester County Militia.

McManus, Lieutenant Hugh, Sixth Regiment, Albany Coun-
ty Militia.

McRea, Colonel John, Thirteenth Regiment, Albany County
Militia.

Mead, Surgeon William, First Regiment, the Line.

Moore, Ensign James, First Regiment, the Line.

Neely, Lieutenant Matthew, Second Regiment, Ulster
County Militia.

O'Mara, Captain Henry, Colonel C. D. Wynkoop's Regiment
of Militia.

Reilay, Captain John, of Reilay's Rangers.

Riley, Lieutenant John, Sixth Regiment, Albany County
Militia.

Ryan, Lieutenant Michael, First Regiment, the Line.

Sullivan, Lieutenant Jacob, Second Regiment, Albany Coun-
ty Militia.

Welch, Lieutenant John, Third Regiment, the Line.

Welsh, Major Peter, the Levies (Colonel F. WeissenfeJs).

In the first three Regiments of the Line, for instance, com-
manded by Van Schaick, Van Courtland, and Gansevoort, there
were 415 men with Irish names, while it is safe to say that there
were as many more of that nationality who bore such Penal Day
names as Black, White, Green, etc.

The Third Regiment of the Line bravely defended Fort Stan-
wix against St. Leger and his white and red savages, scattering
them in all directions in a gallant sortie, and were present at the
battles in Saratoga County. The Second Regiment of the Line
was also present in the latter engagements, and among its Irish
commissioned officers were Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Cochran,
Captain Michael Connolly, and Lieutenants Stephen Griffin, John
McClaughry, and William McCune.

Colonel Cochran was a brave officer and warmly attached to
the American cause. In 1778 he was sent on a secret mission to
Canada, where a large reward was offered for his head. While
concealing himself in some brushwood be was taken dangerously
ill and was obliged to apply for help to a near-by log cabin. As
he approached the door he heard three men and a woman discus-
sing plans for his capture in order to obtain the reward. When the
men left to pursue him he crept into the presence of the woman,
disclosed himself and besought her protection. Her heart wa*



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 465

touched at his misfortune. She directed him to a place of safety,
not far from her own cabin, where she fed and nourished him
until he was able to travel and escape beyond the British lines.
Several years after, while living at Ticonderoga, the Colonel
met his deliverer and suitably rewarded her for her kindness and
charity.

Another anecdote of Colonel Cochran is told by Lossing
which shows the great privations he suffered for his country and
also illustrates the generous character of Baron Steuben, who, as
he said himself, came to this country from Prussia to "serve a na-
tion engaged in the noble work of defending its rights and lib-
erties." At the time of the disbanding of the patriot army, when
independence was won by the great sacrifices of true men like
him, Colonel Cochran was standing in the street at Newburgh,
penniless, when Steuben tried to comfort him with the hope that
better times would soon come. "For myself," said the brave
Cochran, "I can stand it; but my wife and daughters are in the
garret of that wretched tavern and I have nowhere to carry them,
nor even money to remove them."

The baron's generous heart was touched, and though poor
himself, he hastened to the family of Cochran, poured the whole
contents of his purse upon the table, and left as suddenly as he
had entered.

Major John Armstrong, son of General John, of both of
whom we have already spoken at length, also distinguished himself
in the Northern Army and was chief aid to General Gates. He
did his best to bring that treacherous officer to a sense of his
duty, though he never succeeded in enticing him to the scene of
actual conflict. Gates always slunk in the background, saturated
with liquor, and was a hindrance rather than a help to the com-
manders under him. To the personal bravery of Morgan and
Arnold, and not to Gates, may the surrender of Burgoync be
attributed.

At the battles in Saratoga County Morgan and his riflemen
fought nobly and wrought terrible havoc among the enemy, but
Gates never mentioned them in his dispatches.

After the surrender Gates endeavored to corrupt Morgan
and prejudice him against Washington, saying that the reputa-
tion of the commander-in-chief was on the decline and a change
was needed. To this infamous attack on his integrity the fear-
less rifleman replied: "Sir, I have one favor to ask; never men-
tion to me again this hateful subject; under no other man but
General Washington as commander-in-chief will I ever serve.
This severe rebuff so enraged Gates that afterward, when he gave
the captured English officers a dinner, Morgan was not invited.



466 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

It was not until the 4th of October that Sir Henry Clinton
left New York to go up the Hudson to the assistance of Bur-
goyne. He was then in chief command of the British forces in
that city, in the absence of General Howe, who had taken the field
against Washington.

The patriot forts along the Hudson, though strong positions
if properly manned, were at this time sorely enfeebled through
lack of soldiers. General Putnam was in command of the army
in the Highlands, with headquarters at Peekskill, and the broth-
ers, Generals George and James Clinton, had charge of Forts
Montgomery and Clinton, situated side by side forty-three miles
from New York on the west bank of the Hudson.

Putnam's army had been reduced by the levees made upon
it by Washington to oppose the advance of the British on Phila-
delphia, while the defenders of the two forts did not amount to
more than six hundred men. Moreover, General George Clinton
was absent from Fort Montgomery, presiding over a meeting at
Kingston of the Legislature of the State, of which he was then
Governor, but he hastened back as quickly as possible when he
heard of the advance of the British up the Hudson.

By landing his forces at Tarrytown and then at Verplanck's
Point Sir Henry Clinton led Putnam to believe that his object
was to attack his own position at Peekskill, and he made arrange-
ments accordingly. He sent to the Clintons for all the men they
could spare and called the militia of Connecticut to his assistance.

While Putnam was thus waiting for the enemy to attack
him at Peekskill Sir Henry, with two thousand of his men, leav-
ing one thousand behind him on Verplanck's Point, crossed the
Hudson at Stony Point and marched around the Dunderberg
Mountain to the back of Forts Montgomery and Clinton. Both
the patriot Clintons were taken by surprise, and when Putnam
learned the real situation it was too late to render them any as-
sistance.

The British thus passed above Putnam without giving him a
single chance to strike a blow in opposition to their advance.

During the preceding August Putnam captured a British spy
at Peekskill named Edmund Palmer, whose surrender was rather
roughly demanded by Sir Henry Clinton.

"Edmund Palmer," promptly replied Putnam, "an officer in
the enemy's service, was taken as a spy lurking within our lines.
He has been tried as a spy, condemned as a spy, and shall be ex-
ecuted as a spy, and the flag is ordered to depart immediately.
P. S. He has, accordingly, been executed."

Sir Henry held a grudge against "Old Put" for this testy



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 467

letter, and he was glad to square the account by out-maneuvering
him.

The British army, guided by a Tory, traversed the rugged
defiles of the Dunderberg in single column, and at its northern
base separated into two divisions of nine hundred men each, one
of which, under Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, was to attack Fort
Montgomery, and the other, under Sir Henry himself, was to
storm Fort Clinton, the British General being anxious to per-
sonally wipe out the disgrace of having a rebel fort called after
his own name.

The moment Governor Clinton heard of the approach of the
British he sent out two detachments to oppose them under Col-
onels McClaghry and Bruyn, who kept up a galling fire on the
enemy, but were obliged to retreat before their superior numbers.

Sir Henry CHnton gave the garrison only five minutes to
surrender or tiiey would be all put to the sword, but the patriot
general answered back that the Americans were determined to
defend the forts to the last extremity. The fight was then prose-
cuted with great vigor on both sides, the forts being invested by
land and water, and as darkness approached the patriots were
forced to give way, but they did not surrender. Most of them cut
their way out through the British ranks, and the loyal brothers
who commanded the forts escaped.

General James Clinton was severely wounded in the thigh,
but reached his residence in Orange County, sixteen miles distant,
the next day, where he was joined by his brother George and about
two hundred of the survivors of the battle. Among the prisoners
captured by the English were two brave Irishmen — Colonel James
McClaghry, of the Second Ulster County Militia, and Major Sam-
uel Logan, of the Fifth Regiment of the Line. Both fought to
the last ditch and only gave up when completely overpowered.
McClaghry was taken to New York and conficed in the hospital
in the room beneath that in which Colonel Ethan Allen was im-
prisoned. The floor between them was full of cracks, through
one of which McClaghry, who had heard of the capture of Bur-
goyne, passed a scrap of paper to Allen on which he had written
the information. Allen immediately went to the window and
called out to some British officers passing in the street, "Burgoyne
has marched to Boston to the tune of Yankee Doodle."

J. T. Steadley, in his Washington and His Generals, thus
describes the battle of Fort Montgomery and the escape of General
James Clinton : "For two hours that little band gallantly with-
stood the onset of the overwhelming force which pressed so fierce-
ly upon them. The two Clintons stood like lions at bay, and rally-
ing their diminished numbers around them, presented a living wall



468 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

against which the tide of British valor rolled in vain. In the
meantime the English ships of war had arrived and began to thun-
der on the forts from the river. Against this united attack these
noble brothers defended themselves with a heroism worthy of a
better fate and struggled desperately to maintain their posts.

"The sun went down on the fight and darkness gathered
slowly over the forest and the river — and then it was a constant
blaze around those dark structures, and standards were seen wav-
ing and swords flashing in the light of the incessant volleys. Grad-
ually bearing down all obstacles, the English at length advanced
to the storm — and sweeping with loud shouts over the works,
drove everything before them.

"Disdaining still to surrender, Clinton, whose strong soul
was now fully aroused, continued to fight, and, gathering his brave
men around him, boldly attempted to cut his way out. Reaching
the river, he came upon a small boat, in which he urged his brother
George to embark and make his escape. The latter firmly refused
to go unless he accompanied him. But this was impossible, and
to end the dispute James pushed his brother into the boat and
shoved it from the shore before he had time to offer any resist-
ance ; then, springing on a horse nearby, he galloped away.

"It was dark, and as he came to a bridge which he must
cross he saw it occupied with English soldiers. They challenged
him, but, ordering them to clear the way, he drove the spurs into
his horse and dashed through the bayonets, one of which pierced
his leg. Knowing that his safety lay in reaching the mountains,
he flung himself from the horse, and, snatching the bridle fromits
head, plunged into the woods. His remarkable presence of mind
did not forsake him in this critical moment. He knew that un-
less he could catch another horse he should perish in the moun-



Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 49 of 67)