Captain Patrick Clooney of the 88th New York, Irish Brigade, was a native of Waterford. He had served with distinction in the Battalion of St. Patrick during the Papal War in 1860, and travelled to the United States in July 1861. He enlisted as a Private in Company K (Meagher’s Zouaves) of the 69th New York State Militia, with whom he fought at First Bull Run. Returning to New York he raised a company for the 88th New York Volunteers and was commissioned a Captain on 2nd October 1861. This regiment became part of the Irish Brigade, and Captain Clooney fought with it through the battles of the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. On 17th September 1862 at Antietam, Maryland, Clooney advanced with his regiment for the final time. Historian of the Irish Brigade David Power Conyngham tells of what happened to the Waterford native:
On the battle-field of Antietam his commanding form could be seen remarkably conspicuous among his comrades. High above the din of battle, his rich, manly voice could be heard encouraging his men and inspiring them to action. To see him unflinchingly and fearlessly stand, like one of the heroes of Grecian lore, sword in hand, his green plume waving in the wind, whilst the leaden hail flew thick and fast around him, you would perceive a sublimity of person, appearance, and of action no pen can portray nor words express. After receiving a severe gunshot wound in the knee, he would not leave the field, though he was urged and entreated repeatedly by his men to do so. No; he still kept his place, until a rifle-bullet passed through his body, killing him instantly. (1)
News of Patrick Clooney’s death in the Irish Brigade assault on the Bloody Lane at Antietam reached Waterford, and in 1863 locals erected a memorial to him in Ballybricken Churchyard near the place of his birth. The monument survives to this day, although it is in serious need of restoration. Waterford historian James Doherty has started a fund in order to finance this much needed work; if you wish to make a donation you can visit his site here.
(1) Conyngham 1867: 560;
References & Further Reading
Conyngham, David Power 1867. The Irish Brigade and its Campaigns