J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Patrick Cleburne”

Civil War Celts: The Fighting Irish

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Because I’m Irish, I think it is only fitting to pay homage to some of the many Irishmen who fought in the War Between the States. The Irish played an enormous role in both armies during the Civil War, and many famous soldiers were Irish. Nearly everyone has heard of the infamous Irish Brigade, the 69th New York Infantry “Fighting Irish,” which still exists today. The Irish Brigade, led by Thomas Francis Meagher, played a significant role in many major battles, and there have been documented accounts of the Confederates hearing the approaching Irish Brigade chant, “Erin Go Bragh!” as the Irishmen marched toward them with the Union army. The 2,500 Irish soldiers stuck green sprigs in their caps to remind them of the “old sod.”

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On the Confederate side, six of the 425 generals were Irish. Patrick Cleburne saw the South’s plight as that of Ireland’s, in that the Union refused to allow secession, just as Britain disallowed Irish independence. General Cleburne, who would be celebrating his birthday today if he was alive, distinguished himself as a brave and innovative leader. Other notable Irish commanders included General Philip Sheridan, General George Armstrong Custer, John Barry, father of the American Navy, and the Reverend Abram Joseph Ryan, who served as a chaplain to Confederate troops and went against Union authorities to do so.

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During the course of the War Between the States, approximately 2.2 million men fought for the Union, 150,000 of which were Irish. In comparison, around 900,000 enlisted for the Confederacy, with 20,000 to 40,000 of these men being of Irish decent. The Irish influenced Civil War music as well. A popular song of the time, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” was written by Patrick Gilmore, who was, of course, an Irishman.

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How Could They Have Known?

After the War Between the States ended, many scholars predicted what was to come, and what the national climate would be like. Even during the war, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne was quoted as saying:

“Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late… It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision… It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.”

How interesting that, 150 years later, all things representing the Confederacy are under attack. The social climate in America has become too engrossed in what some view as political correctness, instead of paying respect to those who died for a cause and country they believed in. Another interesting quote is as follows:

“History, as written, if accepted in future years, will consign the South to infamy,” says Honorable J. L. M. Curry. The truth, the only antidote for the poison of falsehood, should be set to work at once, or the evil effects will become incurable. No time is to be lost. Soon the cemetery will hold us all. What shall be then thought of our cause and conduct will depend upon what we leave in the books of our era. Books live on. They should not misrepresent us or our dead. But think of the stream pouring from the press, a stream so strong and so full of ignorance of us, and of prejudice against us-think of the political interests, and sectional rivalries, and financial superiority, and numerical preponderance, and commercial advantages, and the immense Governmental influence, all combined upon the successful side-will posterity ever know who we were, or why we fought?”                             – John R Deering, Lee and His Cause,1907

Instead of being concerned about erasing history by deeming certain things as “offensive,” we should embrace them as part of our nation’s heritage. I only hope this turnaround takes place before everything is gone.

Southern Duty

When Lincoln called up 75 thousand men to invade the Independent Southern States on April 15, 1861, his unconstitutional act prompted the states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas to secede, joining the newly formed country, the Confederate States of America. Thus, with the invasion of the South, this began the bloodiest war in our American history.

When the South was invaded, Southern States called upon their sons to do their duty to defend their state, homes and family from invasion. These men went to do their duty, not as aggressors or in the spirit of conquest, but to protect their homeland from an unjust invasion.

More than half of all the casualties on both sides were from the hardships and disease found in camp life. This was especially true for the Southern troops who nearly always lacked the basic necessities of food, clothing and medical supplies, unlike the Northern troops, who had plenty.

The sacrifices made by the Confederate soldier are incomprehensible today. They would march for days with little or no rest, very little food, some with no shoes and in the heat of summer and the frigid cold of winter. Fatigue, hunger and sickness were common place for these soldiers.

Despite the hardships endured by the Confederate soldiers they pressed on to perform their duty. In nearly every conflict these soldiers were typically outnumbered and out gunned 3 to 1.

The “Rebel Yell” made these brave soldiers famous. It demonstrated a fighting spirit, courage, tenacity and gallantry allowing them to prevail in most of the major conflicts of the war. Sadly they fought an invader with unlimited reserves and resources, making victory impossible.

Even during the last year of the war when they knew that victory was impossible, the Confederate soldier continued to fight courageously to protect their homes and families, to the very end.

They received no great bounty or pay for their service nor did they ask for any monuments or special attention. They wished only to be remembered with the truth behind their heroic and noble struggle, in America’s second War for Independence.

April is Confederate History Month and commemorates the men and women of the Confederate States of America who came from all races and religions that include: Irish-born General Patrick R. Cleburne, Black Confederate drummer Bill Yopp, Mexican born Colonel Santos Benavides, Cherokee born General Stand Watie and Jewish born Confederate Nurse Phoebe Pember who was the first female administrator of Chimboraza Hospital in Richmond, Virginia where she served until the end of War Between the States.

Nearly 258 thousand Confederate soldiers died protecting their homes, families and our Constitution. They fought bravely and nobly against overwhelming forces and odds. They suffered incomprehensible hardships to the very end. They were called to their duty as Americans….as fathers and as sons. They served without hesitation and we owe each of them to make sure the truth be told about them and the War. These soldiers are our ancestors and without hesitation or question, deserve respect, honor and dignity from each of us.

Deo Vindice!

(This article courtesy of the “Southern Comfort,” Samuel A. Hughey Camp #1452 SVC, Hernando, MS)

Civil War Fighting Irish

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Most Civil War buffs know about the infamous Irish Brigade, the 69th New York Infantry Regiment that fought at Gettysburg and numerous other battles. The brigade was led by Colonel Joseph Kelly. “Kelly’s Brigade,” the “Fighting 69th,” still exists to this day. But many Irish immigrants fought for the South as well. It is estimated that 30,000 Irishmen fought for the Confederacy.

On September 1, 1861, the 10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment enlisted. Known as the “Rebel Sons of Erin,” these men consisted primarily of Irish-Americans. Some of their surnames included Brennan, Brien, Conley, Dougherty, Fitzgerald, Haley, Kelly, McKenny, McNichols, Murphy, O’Sullivan, Riley, Ryan, and Sullivan, to name a few. The regiment was led by Colonel Randall McGavock, whose parents emigrated from Ireland in the 1820’s. McGavock was killed at the Battle of Raymond.

Patrick Cleburne, who was probably the most recognizable Irishman to fight for the Southern cause, died during the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee. Cleburne, an Irish immigrant who was born in County Cork, was known as the “Stonewall of the West.” Robert E. Lee referred to him as “a meteor shining from a clouded sky.” Other famous Irishmen who served for the South included Reverend Abram Ryan and Chaplain John Bannon.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Because I am Irish, we always make a big deal out of St. Paddy’s Day by going to the parade, playing Irish music, and of course, cooking corned beef and cabbage. During the Civil War, the Irish played an enormous role in both armies, and many famous soldiers were Irish. Everyone no doubt has heard of the infamous Irish Brigade, which still exists today. The Irish Brigade, led my Thomas Francis Meagher, played a significant role in many major battles, and there have been documented accounts of the Confederates hearing the approaching Irish Brigade chant “Erin Go Braugh!” as the marched toward them with the Union army. The 2,500 Irish soldiers stuck green sprigs in their caps to remind them of the “old sod.”

On the Confederate side, six of the 425 generals were Irish. Patrick Cleburne saw the South’s plight as that of Ireland’s in that the Union refused to allow secession, just as Britain disallowed Irish independence. General Cleburne, who would be celebrating his birthday today if he were alive, distinguished himself as a brave and innovative leader. Other notable Irish commanders included General Philip Sheridan, General George Armstrong Custer, and John Barry, father of the American Navy.

During the course of the War Between the States, approximately 2.2 million men fought for the Union, 150,000 of which were Irish. In comparison, around 900,000 enlisted for the Confederacy, with 20,000 to 40,000 of these men being of Irish decent. The Irish played an important part in music as well. A popular song of the time, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” was written by Patrick Gilmore, an Irishman.

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