Michael Corcoran was something of a celebrity in 1860s New York. The Co. Sligo native hit the headlines in 1860 when as Colonel of the 69th New York State Militia he refused to parade during the visit of the Prince of Wales. His court-martial had not occurred by the outbreak of the war, and at First Bull Run he was captured while still in command of the 69th. He was not exchanged, instead being held under threat of retaliatory execution until August 1862. He returned to New York to a rapturous reception and reentered the war at the head of the ‘Irish Legion’. He died on 22nd December 1863 when his horse fell on him while riding with Thomas Francis Meagher. The 28th December edition of the New York Times held an account of his funeral, and clearly demonstrates the deep affection in which he was held.

Col. Michael Corcoran. Digital ID: 1217874. New York Public Library
General Michael Corcoran


At 9 o’clock yesterday morning the remains of the late Gen. Corcoran, which had been lying in state for the past two days in the Governor’s room at the City Hall, were conveyed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Mulberry-street; in order for the Solemn High Mass requiem to be said over them. Long before the hour appointed, the Cathedral was crowded to its utmost limits, in consequence of which the doors had to be closed against the constantly increasing throng. On the arrival of the body at the Mott-street entrance of the Cathedral it was at once borne to the centre of the middle aisle, and placed upon a raised dais, with six candles around it. The solemn and impressive ceremonies – made more so by the Cathedral being draped in black – of the High Mass requiem was then performed by Very Rev. William Starrs. V.G., assisted by Deacon Father Eugene McGuire. Sub-Deacon Rev. Dr. McSweeney, Master of the ceremonies, and Rev. Francis McNiernly, Secretary to Archbishop Hughes. At the conclusion of Mass, Rev. Wm. Starrs delivered an oration, of the most feeling and impressive nature, eulogistic of the deceased.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Digital ID: 1659444. New York Public Library
St. Patrick’s Cathedral 1858

The remains were then removed back to the City Hall, and again laid in state in the Governor’s room, where an opportunity was afforded the public to see the remains. The throng until the hour of 1 o’clock was immense, and large numbers were unable to gain admittance.

A few minutes after 1 o’clock the military escort began to file into the Park, shortly afterward followed by several benevolent societies, who were to take part in the procession. Owing to the necessary delay of getting so large an escort into line the cortege did not commence to move till nigh upon 2 o’clock, being nearly an hour after the appointed time, and was in the following order:

The Twenty-second regiment, N.Y.S.N.G., under command of Col. Aspinwall.

The Sixty-ninth regiment, N.Y.S.N.G., under command of Col. Bagley.

The Fourth Artillery, under command of Col. Teller, Cavalry Troop of Sixty-ninth regiment.

Hearse, drawn by eight iron-gray horses, each decorated with funeral trappings.


Gen. Thos. F. Meagher.

Col. Math. Murphy, Sixty-ninth regiment, N.Y.S.V.

Col. J.R. McIvor, One Hundred and Seventieth regiment, N.Y.S.V.

Ex-Col. W. McCloey, One Hundred and Fifty-fifth regiment, N.Y.S.V.

Gen. Charles C. Dodge.

Col. John O. Mahoney, First regiment, Phoenix Brigade.

Col. Hugh C. Hood, One Hundred and Fifty-fifth regiment N.Y.S.V.

Lieut.-Col. T.M. Reed, Sixty-ninth regiment, N.Y.S.N.G.

Hon. William Walsh, Hon. Joseph Shannon, Hon. Peter Moneghan, Hon. John Healy, Hon. John Kelly, Hon. Elijah F. Purdy, Hon. Morgan Jones, Samuel T. Webster, Esq.

After the hearse and pall-bearers came family and relatives, officers of the Corcoran Legion, officers of the First division, N.Y.S.N.G.

His Honor the Mayor and Common Council, preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

First regiment Phoenix brigade, Twenty-sixth regiment N.Y.S.N.G., under command of Col. John O’Mahoney.

Father Matthew U.T.B.A. Society, under command of Edward L. Carey.

Longshoremen’s Benevolent Society.

Father Matthew U.B.T.A.B. Society, of South Brooklyn, No. 1.

The military, under the command of Gen. Ewing, preceded by their bands, marched with arms reversed, and their colors bound with crape. The benevolent societies had also their banners, with the insignia of mourning upon them. The Police arrangements were under charge of Capt. Thorne, of the Twenty-sixth Precinct, and were excellent. About one hundred and fifty men were on duty, comprising detachments from eight Precincts. Capt. Greer, of the Third Precinct, with a force, had charge of Broadway.

Along the route up Broadway to the foot of Tenth-street, E.R., there was one continuous line of people, our Irish citizens predominating. Arriving at the ferry, the military and civic societies filed off, the respective bands struck up enlivening and secular airs, and the hearse, accompanied by the relatives and friends of the deceased, proceeded to Calvary Cemetery where the interment took place. During the day the flags on the various public buildings were kept at halfmast.


Warner, Ezra J. 1964. Generals in Blue

The New York Times Archive 1851-1980