The 42nd New York Infantry and ‘The Relief of the Destitute Poor of Our Native Land’

The ‘green-flag’ units were not the only Union regiments to contain large numbers of Irish within their ranks. Many others contained a substantial contingent of Irishmen, who were just as concerned with affairs amongst their community and at home in Ireland. One such outfit was the 42nd New York Infantry, known as ‘The Tammany Regiment.’ So many Irish served in this unit that in 1863 they gathered a collection for the relief of Irish people in their native land, and published their motivations for doing so in the Irish-American newspaper.

Colonel James Mallon, 42nd New York 'Tammany Regiment'. Killed in Action on 14th October 1863 at Bristoe Station. (National Archives)

Colonel James Mallon, 42nd New York ‘Tammany Regiment’. Killed in Action on 14th October 1863 at Bristoe Station. (National Archives)

Camp of the “Tammany Regiment.”

Near Falmouth, Va.

April 21, 1863

John O’Mahony, Esq.:

We, of the Tammany Regiment, aware of the present distress existing in Ireland, beg you to transmit to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Keane, Bishop of Cloyne, the following amount. We hope it may contribute, if only in a small degree, to stop the stream of Irish emigration, and to keep our friends from starvation, so that, this war in which we are engaged being ended, there may be some our race left at home whom we can aid in placing beyond fear of recurrence both the miseries of famine and the horrors of landlordism.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Keane being the first to acknowledge, by his reception of the remains of the patriot McManus, the right of the exile to a resting-place with his kindred in the land for which he struggled, and for whose welfare his last sigh was offered, we select him as the dispenser of our contribution towards the immediate relief of our suffering kindred in Ireland.

The soldiers requested that the list of contributors in the regiment who had given towards the ‘relief of the destitute poor of our native land’ be published in the Irish-American as it had such an extensive circulation in the Army of the Potomac. An impressive 176 soldiers in The Tammany Regiment raised a total of $493.50 for their brethren across the Atlantic.

Undoubtedly the organisational skills one might expect of a unit connected with the Tammany political machine played a role in the collection; it would be interesting to know if all the donations were made voluntarily or if any pressure had to be applied for some of the men to feel charitable. It is also notable given the surnames of the donors that some may not have formed a part of the Irish-American community. Whatever the specific details, it is a testament to the 42nd New York that despite being in the midst of a bloody conflict, with a new campaign expected to begin any day, many of the soldiers still found the welfare of those in their homeland a cause of major concern. The names and contributions provided by the Tammany men as recorded by the Irish American are listed below, and provide us with evidence for the strong Irish presence within the unit.

The 42nd New York 'Tammany Regiment' memorial at Gettysburg (Photo: J. Stephen Conn)

The 42nd New York ‘Tammany Regiment’ memorial at Gettysburg (Photo: J. Stephen Conn)

42nd New York Donors

Officers: Colonel J.E. Mallon $25, Lieutenant-Colonel Wm. A. Lynch $20, Captain Patrick J. Downing $25, Captain Wm. O’Shea $20, Captain Robert C. Wright $10, Captain Thomas Wright $10, Lieutenant Maurice Fitzharris $10, Lieutenant  Francis F. Reynolds $5

Company K: Orderly Sergeant J. Coffey $7, Sergeant James Casey $7, James Fennessy $5, Luke Burns $5, Michael Cuddy $5, James McGeever $5, Peter West $5, Eugene Sullivan $5, John Fitzgerald $4, Michael Madden $5, Francis Gaffney $2, John Noonan $2, William Desmond $2, Andrew Clines $2, John McDonough $2, John Maher $2, Wm. Byrne $1, Denis Calahan $1, Patrick McManus $1, James McNeills $1, John Ritter $1.50, Thomas Murray $1, Michael McCormack $1, Adam Hydenhoff $1, Wm. Wallace $1

Company E: Sergeant Arthur Kenney $5, Sergeant Michael Cunningham $5, Sergeant James Kane $5, Daniel O’Shea $5, Arthur Cosgrove $2, Michael McDonough $5, Denis Colligan $5, Michael Reedy $1, Sergeant John Gillen $5, Edward McNally $1, Patrick McNamara $1, Michael Lynch $1, Jeremiah Gerrin $5, Francis Creely $1, Patrick Fitzgerald $1, Felix Connelly $2, Michael Walsh $2, John Molloy $1, Daniel Leddy $2, William Carey $2, Edward Long $1, Francis Curry $1, John Hudson $5, John Burns $5, Wm. Mulcahy $3

Company D: Sergeant John Cardn $2, Sergeant L. Kenny $2, Owen McDermott $8, Thomas Kepple $5, Joseph Murphy $2, Thomas Banon $2, John Bourke $2, Francis Murphy $1, Charles Moore $1, John Mlloy $1, W. Baxendale $1, Hugh Reilly $1, Patrick Flaherty $2, Richard Allen $1, Cornelius Blackburn $2, Richard Murray $2, Edward Kelly $2, Patrick Kane $1, John Smith $1, Sergeant James Moran $2, Sergeant P. Fitzpatrick $2, John Nash $1, Joseph Bennett $1, Luke Kernen $1

Company F: Sergeant-Major Nllon $1, James Cullen $5, John Raap $1, Hugh Craig $1, Edward Blake $1, John Scanlon $5, John Fallon $2, Patrick Gorman $1, Charles Beck $0.50, Sergeant Quinn $1

Company G: Patrick Kehoe $5, Sergeant Standford $1, Michael McDonnell $1, Michael Flood $1, A. McLoughlan $2, Sergeant Murphy $1, John Nevill $2, Hugh Murphy $2, Patrick Fitzpatrick $5, Peter Flynn $5, Sergeant Daley $2, Bernard Quinn $1, John Quirke $2, Thomas Ramsden $1, Christpher Stone $1, Michael O’Meara $2, Francis Connelly $1, Quartermaster-Sergeant G.B. Ruddy $5, C. Mulholland $2, Francis Kennedy $2, H. Lippincott $2

Company H: Sergeant Wm. Flinn $2.50, Sergeant B. Dolan $2.50, Sergeant John Nugent $2.50, John P. Kelley $2, Richard McGreal $2, Patrick Crosby $1, James Byron $2, Jeremiah McCarthy $1.50, Michael Lynch $2, James Merrick $1, James Boyce $1, Corporal Wm. O’Neill $1, Richard McAuliffe $1, Bernard Reynold $1, Wm. Bushell $5, Edward Kelly $5, Philip Craighton $1, James McNamara $3, John Smithwick $2, Richard Quinan $1, Bernard Menton $2

Company C: Sergeant Molloy $2, Michael Kenney $1, Timothy Horogan $1, Thomas Curly $1, James H. Dougherty $5, Thomas Dunnigan $1, Wm. McKiheny $1, Michael Hayes $1, Wm. Cheeseman $1, Wm. Strip $1, Lewis Peters $1, Daniel Barrett $1, John Moriarty $1, Michael Donovan $1, Thomas Somerville $1, James H. Walsh $2, Garrett Hyde $1, G. Maley $2, Francis Campbell $2, Wm. Jameson $1, Wm. Church $1

Company B: John Smyth $2, John Downs $1, John Boyd $1, John Doyle $1, Edward McDermott $1, Sergeant John Mullin $2, James Scott $1, Joseph Edwards $1, Wm. Curran $1, Wm. Dunkinson $5, Hiram Manton $2

Company I: Sergeant Brandt $1, James Kilduff $2, Thomas Ryan $2, Wm. Lynch $1, Matthew McNally $1, Henry Bird $1, Michael Hickey $1, James Shilton $2, Daniel Kelly $1, Peter Sawer $1

Company A: Thomas James $2, Edward Brice $1, Bernard Hanlon $2, Neil McIvor $2, Thomas Griffin $1, Wm. Rutledge $1

*Names have been transcribed using spellings as they appeared in the Irish-American. Given the vagaries of print in 1863 some of the names and sums donated were difficult to discern, making some errors unavoidable.

References

New York Irish American 9th May 1863: Relief From the Tammany Regiment

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Categories: 42nd New York, The Civil War and Ireland

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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4 Comments on “The 42nd New York Infantry and ‘The Relief of the Destitute Poor of Our Native Land’”

  1. January 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Notice that Mallon sent the money thru John O’Mahony, the head of the Fenian Brotherhood in America. With this kind of poverty floating arounf Ireland, one can see why James Stephens was screaming to O’Mahony for more money! Was there really an economic and personnel base large enough to start a revolution with the help of the FBA in Ireland in 1865?

  2. March 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    What is startling about the Irish in NYC and Boston for that matter is the level of poverty that they endured in this country. And the poverty was harsh. As the Irish flooded North and South during worst of Famine, they were given most dangerous jobs because the Irish were considered expendable. In the South plantation owners would not allow their slaves to work any of these jobs for extra income – canal and railroad work – because the slaves were commodity and too valuable to lose to death or injury. Post Civil War, the Irish used their whiteness to continue to secure these miserable jobs — dangerous and no pay.

    Yet, in spite of their continued poverty – pre and post Civil War- the Irish were willing to send whatever amount they could to their countrymen — from the moment they set foot in America.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. An Image of Union Donors to the 1863 Irish Relief Fund, Fifty Years On | Irish in the American Civil War - July 14, 2013

    […] of Union troops in 1863 towards the relief of the suffering poor in Ireland (see here, here, here and an overview here). These men were about to embark on campaigns that would leave many dead, […]

  2. An Image of Union Donors to the 1863 Irish Relief Fund, Forty Years On | Irish in the American Civil War - July 14, 2013

    […] of Union troops in 1863 towards the relief of the suffering poor in Ireland (see here, here, here and an overview here). These men were about to embark on campaigns that would leave many dead, […]

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