Dependent Father: How one Irish Brigade Soldier’s Service Helped an Elderly Man in Rural Tipperary

Each month for much of the 1880s the octogenarian Timothy Durick travelled from his home in Lackamore, Castletownarra, Co. Tipperary to the nearby town of Nenagh. He made the journey to visit the Post Office and collect his pension, which was worth $8 U.S. Dollars. In order to secure the pension the elderly man had made a long journey across the Atlantic; the service which earned it had been that of his son, Jeremiah- a soldier of the Irish Brigade who’s story came to an end on the bloodiest day in American history. (1)

The Irish Brigade Monument at Antietam (Andrew Bossi- Wikimedia Commons)

The Irish Brigade Monument at Antietam (Andrew Bossi- Wikimedia Commons)

Timothy Durick had been born around the year 1801. He married Mary Hogan in 1827 and the couple went on to have five children together. The dangers of childbirth were everpresent in this period, and Mary did not long survive the birth of their fifth child- Timothy became a widower at sometime during the early 1840s. The family were poor and there were few prospects in Ireland for the children. Timothy and Mary’s son Jeremiah had been born around 1835, and by the mid-1850s had decided that his future lay in the United States. (2)

As was so often the case with Irish emigrants, when Jeremiah went to America he chose to join people whom he already knew and who were originally from the Nenagh area. He settled in the town of West Rutland, Rutland County, Vermont, where he boarded with John Barrett, who had known him since he was a boy and had attended his mother’s funeral. There Jeremiah worked in the marble quarries, making sure to send his father in Ireland money whenever he could. (3)

Marble Mills in West Rutland, Vermont as they appeared c. 1915 (Wikipedia)

Marble Mills in West Rutland, Vermont as they appeared c. 1915 (Wikipedia)

With the outbreak of the war, Jeremiah, who had found work sporadic in Vermont, decided to enlist in the army. The regiment he chose was the 88th New York Infantry, one of the units of the Irish Brigade. He mustered in as a Private in Company C on 28th September 1861, aged 26 years. A steady wage seems to have been one of Jeremiah’s key motivating factors in joining up, and his father back in Nenagh remained in his thoughts- at one point he sent $30 of his pay to Ireland via his brother John. (4)

Jeremiah served with the Brigade through the Peninsula before marching onto the field at Antietam on 17th September 1862. Captain William O’Grady of the 88th later described that regiments part in the action:

‘We forded the creek, by General Meagher’s orders, taking off our shoes (those who could, many were barefoot, and some, like the writer, were so footsore that they had not been able to take off their shoes, or what remained of them, for a week), to wring out their socks, so as not to incumber the men in active movements, and every man was required to fill his canteen…The bullets were whistling over us as we hurried past the general in fours, and at the double-quick formed right into line behind a fence. We were ordered to lie down while volunteers tore down the fence…Then, up on our feet, we charged. The Bloody Lane was witness of the efficacy of buck-and-ball at close quarters. We cleared that and away beyond…When our ammunition was exhausted, Caldwell’s Brigade relieved us, the companies breaking into fours for the passage as if on parade…By some misunderstanding, part of the Sixty-third New York with their colors were massed on our right for a few minutes, during which our two right companies, C and F, were simply slaughtered, suffering a third of the entire casualties of the regiment. (5)

Jeremiah Durick was one of the unfortunate members of Company C caught in this exposed position. He was killed on the field, one of 35 men of the regiment who lost their lives as a result of Antietam. Another 67 were wounded as the 88th New York lost, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Kelly, ‘one-third of our men.’ (6)

Confederate Dead in the Bloody Lane, Antietam, the Target of the Irish Brigade Attack (Library of Congress)

Confederate Dead in the Bloody Lane, Antietam, the Target of the Irish Brigade Attack (Library of Congress)

In April 1867 Jeremiah’s father Timothy, now 66-years-old, sought to secure a pension based on his son’s service. His previous efforts in this regard had been unsuccessful, and so  he made the journey across the Atlantic to Vermont to press his claim. Old friends from Nenagh who lived in Vermont, 40-year-old John Barrett (with whom Jeremiah had boarded) and 50-year-old John Gleason, gave evidence that Timothy had received upwards of $100 a year in financial support from his son. They also revealed that Timothy was very poor, had no property of any kind except his personal clothing and had no income or means of support except what he earned by manual labour. Timothy was reported to be in poor health and was unable to earn a living due to physical disability. A Dr. Backer Haynes in the town of Rutland also provided a statement to say he had examined Timothy, and found that he suffered from long-standing hypertrophy of the heart which had caused rheumatism in the back, right arm and right shoulder. These ailments rendered him ‘entirely incapable of earning a subsistence by manual labor’ and had done so for at least five or six years. Timothy’s pension application was approved in March 1868. (7)

An Extract of the Statements Provided by John Barrett and John Gleason for Timothy Durick (John Barrett could sign his name, John Gleason was illiterate so made his mark- Image via Fold3)

An Extract of the Statements Provided by John Barrett and John Gleason for Timothy Durick (John Barrett could sign his name, John Gleason was illiterate so made his mark- Image via Fold3)

Timothy remained in Vermont for some time after securing his pension, living in Castleton. In November 1868 he sought to have the pension back-dated to the time of his son’s death in 1862, although it is unclear if he was successful. Timothy eventually made the journey back to his home in Tipperary and by 1883 was collecting his pension from Nenagh Post Office. Despite his ailments he lived well into his 80s, eventually passing away near Nenagh in 1887 at the age of 86. His son’s service, which had ended in Maryland on America’s bloodiest day, helped to provide vital financial assistance for an elderly man living out his final years a world away, in rural Co. Tipperary. (8)

Timothy Durick's Mark from his November 1868 Application (Image via Fold3)

Timothy Durick’s Mark from his November 1868 Application (Image via Fold3)

(1) Griffiths Valuation, Pensioners on the Roll:640; (2) Jeremiah Durick Widow’s Pension File; (3) Ibid. (4) Adjutant General Report: 42; Jeremiah Durick Wodow’s Pension File; (5) O’Grady 1902; (6) Phisterer 1912, Official Records: 298; (7) Jeremiah Durick Widow’s Pension File; (8) Ibid., Civil Registrations;

References & Further Reading

Government Printing Office 1883. List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883. Volume 5

Ireland Civil Registration Deaths Index, 1864-1958; Nenagh Registration District

Ireland Griffith’s Valuation, 1848-1864; Owney and Arra, Co. Tipperary

Jeremiah Durick Widow’s Pension File WC109831

New York Adjutant-General 1893. Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York, Volume 31

Official Records of the War of Rebellion Series 1, Volume 19 (Part 1). Report of Lieut. Col. Patrick Kelly, Eighty-eighth New York Infantry, of the battle of Antietam

O’Grady, William 1902. ‘Historical Sketch of the 88th New York’ in New York Monuments Commission, Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg.

Phisterer, Frederick 1912. New York in the War of the Rebellion

New York State Military Museum

Civil War Trust Battle of Antietam Page

Antietam National Battlefield Park


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Categories: 88th New York, Irish Brigade, Tipperary, Vermont

Author:Damian Shiels

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

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15 Comments on “Dependent Father: How one Irish Brigade Soldier’s Service Helped an Elderly Man in Rural Tipperary”

  1. December 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Great Story Thank You

    • December 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Hi Harry,

      Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

      Kind Regards,


  2. Joseph M. doran
    January 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    I appreciate bringing this story to my attention. I include local history topics in my instruction of middle school students at Castleton Village School in Castleton, Vermont. Joseph M. Doran

    • January 5, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Hi Joseph,

      Many thanks for the comment I am glad it is of use. Peter Patten has been a great friend of the site as well in indicating Irish connections to Vermont, some others of which appear on the site and may be of interest!

      Kind Regards,


  3. July 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    More transatlantic communication mentioning Duricks and Barretts and my follow up interpretation of the letter.

    • July 15, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Hey Peter,

      I couldnt get that to load properly can you send the link again?

      Kind Regards,


  4. July 12, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    oops! Another FAIL. Such is life.

  5. peter patten
    August 14, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Damian: if it is worth your time go to my message (left column) on the Portroe Gathering Facebook Page. You should be able to access the letter there.

    • August 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for letting me know about that, I read it there- it is quite remarkable the wealth of material relating to these families. It also shows how common tragedies were for all families in this period too- Timothy certainly bore witness to plenty of it.

      Talk soon,


  6. April 4, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

  7. April 6, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    Great stuff Peter thanks for sharing! Jeremiah’s story is in the new book. I think I found him involved in a local dispute in Tipperary before he emigrated as well.

    • April 7, 2016 at 5:21 am #

      The Garrykennedy branch was feuding with the local landlord over some crops in the 1840s , they had a Jeremiah too.

      • May 6, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

        Brilliant information as ever Peter!

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