History of the 69th New York

by Claire Morris


Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher
Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher
Brigade Commander of 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of 2nd
Corps – The Irish Brigade.


BRIG GENERAL T.F. MEAGHER     – 13th March 1862 to 28th June 1862

COLONEL ROBERT NUGENT         - 28th June 1862 to 29th June 1862

BRIG GENERAL T.F. MEAGHER     – 29th June 1862 to 16th July 1862

COLONEL ROBERT NUGENT         - 16th July 1862 to 8th August 1862

BRIG GENERAL T.F. MEAGHER     – 8th August 1862 to 17th September 1862

COLONEL JOHN BURKE                -  17th September 1862 to 18th September 1862

BRIG GENERAL T.F. MEAGHER     – 18th September 1862 to 20th December 1862

COLONEL PATRICK KELLY          - 20th December 1862 to 18th February 1863

BRIG GENERAL T.F. MEAGHER     – 18th February 1863 to 8th May 1863
            (Meagher was absent from command 24th March 1863 to 26th April 1863
            in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and New York, for treatment of a severe attack
            of rheumatism.  He resigned his commission on 5th May 1863).

COLONEL PATRICK KELLY          - 8th May 1863 to 12th January 1864

COLONEL RICHARD BYRNES       - 12th January 1864 to 14th February 1864

MAJOR A.J. LAWLER                       - 14th February 1864 to 25th March 1864

COLONEL T.A. SMYTH                   - 25th March 1864 to 17th May 1864

COLONEL RICHARD BYRNES       - 17th May 1864 to 3rd June 1864
            (Byrnes was wounded in action).

COLONEL PATRICK KELLY          - 3rd June 1864 to 16th June 1864
            (Kelly was killed in action at Petersburg, Virginia).

COLONEL RICHARD BYRNES       - 16th June 1864 to 28th June 1864

On the 27th June 1864, the 2nd Brigade (Irish Brigade) of the 1st Division of the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac was consolidated with the 3rd Brigade, and was essentially no longer an independent command.  The 69th, 88th and 63rd New York regiments stayed together under the command of Major Moroney, as the 28th Massachusetts, and 116th Pennsylvania were transferred to other divisions.  By November 1864 the New York regiments received an influx of new recruits and were reorganised again into a separate command, and the 28th Massachusetts joined them soon after.

LT. COLONEL D.F. BURKE - 2nd November 1864 to 5th November 1864

COLONEL ROBERT NUGENT         - 5th November 1864 to 29th January 1865

COLONEL R.C. DURYEA                 - 29th January 1865 to 17th February 1865

COLONEL ROBERT NUGENT         - 17th February 1865 to 25th June 1865, the end
                                                            of the war.

It was fitting that Colonel Robert Nugent, who was with the 69th New York at the very birth of the Irish Brigade, was its commanding officer at the very end.

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The following information is from Coyningham's book on the Irish Brigade (has been adapted slightly). Here he sketches out profiles of the officers of the 69th New York State Volunteers from 1861 until the wars end.

GENERAL ROBERT NUGENT - Post-civil war brevet-Colonel and Captain 16th Infantry, U. S. A., formerly major and Lieutenant-Colonel of the 69th New York Volunteers, was a native of Kilkeel, county Down; was in all the battles of the Brigade, except Antietam, when he was absent, sick, until Fredericksburg, when he was wounded by a rifle ball in the groin, his pistol, which was shattered, saving his life; was Acting Assistant Provost-Marshal-General of New York for a considerable period, during which he administered a dangerous and important office with dignity and honour. He commanded the Irish Brigade after General Meagher's resignation. He was a very dignified commander and an officer of high executive ability and undoubted gallantry.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JAMES KELLY - He was also a Captain of the 16th Infantry, U. S. A., was a native of Monaghan; was with the regiment up to the battle of Antietam, when he commanded and led the 69th in their famous charge. Here he received two wounds in the face and shoulder.
On the consolidation of the regiment, June, 1863, he was ordered to join his regiment in the regular army, and was subsequently in command of the recruiting depot at Grand Rapids, Michigan, from which at this post he was transferred to his old command as Lieutenant Colonel. He then commanded the Brigade for a short period, at the end of which he rejoined his regular command, and served with renewed distinction and popularity under Sherman in his famous campaigns. No braver or more efficient officer could be found in the service.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JAMES E. McGEE - He succeeded Colonel Kelly, and commanded two brigades of the First Division, Second Corps, for a considerable period during the most active preliminary movements of Grant's campaign, until he was honourably discharged after three years' service, and on account of wounds received at Petersburg, Virginia, June 16, 1864.
Colonel McGee was born in 1830, near the village of Cushendall, in the county of Antrim, Ireland; and was educated at St. Peter's College. Between 1847 and 1848, he was sub-editor of the "Nation", and secretary of a Confederate club. After the failure of the Young Ireland movement he emmigrated to the United States, and was for several years connected with the Irish American Press. He finally joined the volunteer service of the United States; commanded Company F, 69th until 1865, when, after reorganizing the regiment, he was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel.
Colonel McGee was very popular in the army, on account of his agreeable, social, manly demeanour; for gallantry and great executive ability and military tact, he had few superiors.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JAMES J. SMITH - He was for a long period the adjutant of the " Old Sixty-ninth," entered into active service with that command in the early months of the rebellion. He was with the Brigade in that capacity in every engagement, except Fredericksburg, when he was absent, detailed on recruiting service. Colonel Smith was a fine executive officer, and remarkable for coolness, intrepidity, and almost excessive modesty. He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel, February 16th, 1865. He was a native of Monaghan.

MAJOR JAMES CAVANAGH - He was popularly known as " the little Major;' he was a native of Tipperary, and a gallant soldier. He was severely wounded at Fredericksburg, and was obliged to resign after that disastrous battle.

MAJOR JOHN GARRET - comes next on the roster. He, Coynningham believes, was born in Ireland, served in the Mexican war, and then in the 15th New York Volunteers, under J. McLeod Murphy, as Captain of a company. He was wounded in the shoulder at Cold Harbor.

SURGEON J. PASCAL SMITH - resigned from ill health.

ASSISTANT-SURGEON HURLEY - was unhappily killed by a fall from his horse. He was a very able, popular officer, and universally regretted.

ASSISTANT-SURGEON REED - a gentlemanly medical practitioner of New York.

SURGEON WILLIAM O'MEAGHER - a native of Killenaule, county Tipperary. He first joined the gallant 37th New York as surgeon, in which he distinguished himself by his coolness in action, his unwearied attention to his patients, and his affable, gentlemanly demeanour. He subsequently joined the 69th New York Volunteers as surgeon, and became popular in the Brigade, both as a clever surgeon and polished gentleman. The doctor was frequently under fire, and on three occasions a prisoner, but was immediately released. He was principally engaged as operator, brigade surgeon, or in charge of hospitals.

DR. JAMES PURCELL - (whose father, Dr. Purcell, of Henry-street, New York-a native of Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary-had to emigrate to this country on account of his connection with the '48 business), was born in Ireland, and after taking out his diploma, joined the Irish Brigade as assistant-surgeon, with which he served all through the war. He was a great favourite, and a young man of much promise in his profession.

ASSISTANT-SURGEON CROSBY - Was a native of New York State, was obliged to resign from ill health.

CHAPLAIN - THE REV. THOMAS OUELLET - Was a native of Lower Canada; a most zealous and indefatigable priest, universally respected.

QUARTERMASTER RICHARD MAYBURY - Was a native of Brooklyn, graduated from the ranks. An intelligent and energetic officer.

MAJOR RICHARD MORONY - He served in the First New York Volunteers during the Mexican war, then in the old 69th next as 1st Lieutenant in the new 69th, promoted Captain and finally Major. He was a brave, active, and efficient officer; witty, genial, and a universal favourite. Mustered out with the regiment. He was a native of New York State.

CAPTAIN B. S. O'NEILL - He left Ireland for the purpose of joining the Brigade, and very early distinguished himself by bravery and gentlemanly conduct; was promoted from the ranks, step by step, until at times he commanded the regiment. He was killed in front of Petersburg, June 16th, 1864.

CAPTAIN R. H. MILLIKEN - Was born in Newburg, New York, of Irish parents, served in the Ninth New York Militia,. A brave, prompt, and careful officer, always ready for duty. He was severely wounded at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864, from which he recovered with a slight lameness.

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM O'DONOHUE - entered the service as Sergeant Company K (Meagher's Zouaves); taken prisoner with Corcoran at Bull Run; escaped from Richmond, and enlisted with the 4th United States Artillery; rose to rank of Lieutenant, and was killed at Chancellorsville.

CAPTAIN D. S. SHANLEY - He was formerly Lieutenant in the Chicago Shields Guard, which, under the gallant Mulligan, took a distinguished part in the famous siege of Lexington. After being exchanged, he joined General Meagher, as Captain in the 69th, amongst whose officers he was beloved, and served in every hard-fought battle in which the green flag was borne against the enemy. He was wounded at the battle of Malvern Hill, but had again taken command of his company before the evacuation of Harrison's Landing. He was a thoroughly brave young officer, of the most cheerful disposition and unblemished reputation, who would feel a stain deeper than a wound. He fell at Antietam, while bravely leading on his company. His remains were interred in the Catholic Cemetery at Frederick.

CAPTAIN FELIX DUFFY - commanding Company G, 69th, was a brave and experienced officer, and had already served his adopted country in the Mexican war, receiving the strongest marks of approbation from his commanding officers. He was for many years connected with the First Division of New York State Militia, and for some time before the breaking out of the rebellion held the post of Captain of Co. G., 69th Regiment N. Y. S. M., which corps he accompanied to the defence of the National Capitol in 1861. He transferred to the 69th New York State Volunteers on its formation. He was killed at Antietam.

LIEUT. JASON E. BYRNE - a native of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, was educated for the priesthood, emigrated and joined the Brigade, and bravely served until he fell at Cold Harbor.

LIEUTENANT R. A. KELLY - was a native of Athy Co Kildare, Ireland, and was a splendid specimen of manhood, being, though only twenty-one years of age, fully six feet three inches in height. A soldier, almost by instinct, he accompanied the Sixty-ninth Regiment, under Colonel Corcoran, to Virginia at the outbreak of the rebellion, and at the first battle of Bull Run was wounded in the right hand. When the Irish Brigade was commenced, he at once joined its ranks, and served with his regiment all through the desperate struggles in which it has borne so distinguished a part. No braver man has given his life for the cause of the Union, or no better soldier fell on the bloody plain of Antietam.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT LUKE BRENNAN - He promoted from the ranks.

CAPTAIN Wm. BENSON - (Company E), resigned.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT CHARLES M. LUCKY - No information available.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT PETER CONLON - No information available.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT MICHAEL J. BRENNAN - He was promoted from the ranks; received four wounds at Fredericksburg; resigned in consequence. Had service later in Veteran Reserve Corps.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT JOSEPH M. BURNS - He was a native of Scotland, of Irish descent, wounded at White Oak Swamp. Later an officer in the navy.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT PATRICK BUCKLEY - He was promoted from the ranks. Killed at Fredericksburg.

CAPTAIN FELIX DUFFY - He served in the Mexican war. Killed on the field at Antietam while acting as Major.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT PATRICK J. KELLY - Killed on the field at Antietam.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT TERENCE DUFFY - He resigned after the battle of Fredericksburg, from disability.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT PATRICK CALLAHAN - He was promoted from the ranks. Served twenty-three years in the U. S. regular army; wounded at Fredericksburg in four places. He later had service as an officer in Veteran Reserve Corps.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT DAVID BURKE - promoted from the ranks of Captain McGee's company; wounded at Fredericksburg. Mustered out on the consolidation of regiment.

CAPTAIN JAMES LOWRY - (Company H), resigned from ill health.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT PHILIP CARR - He was wounded at Malvern Hill. Resigned from disability.

CAPTAIN JOHN T. TOAL - He was wounded at Fredericksburg. Resigned in consequence. Was successively promoted to 1st Lieutenant and Captain for distinguished service.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT JOHN D. MULHALL - He was formerly a 1st Lieutenant in the Brigade of St. Patrick, in the Papal service. Distinguished himself in Lamoriciere's campaign against the French, and received the medal of St. Peter and two other decorations.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT PATRICK CARNEY - He was promoted from the ranks. Received nine wounds at the battle of Fredericksburg, from the effects of which he was obliged to resign. Later had service in the Veteran Reserve Corps.

CAPTAIN THOMAS SCANLAN - He resigned from ill health.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT PATRICK MORRIS - No information available.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT JAMES COLLINS - He was promoted from the ranks of Captain McGee's company. Wounded at Fredericksburg.

CAPTAIN JAMES McMAHON - He was formerly on General Meagher's and General Richardson's staffs, then Colonel of the 164th N. Y. Vols. Killed at Cold Harbor, June 5th, 1864.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT JOHN CONWAY - He was killed at Antietam.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT PETER KELLY - He was wounded at the first battle of Bull Run, taken prisoner, and escaped from Richmond; resigned.

CAPTAIN LYNCH - He was a native of the town of Limerick, joined the 69th as private, and soon rose to a captaincy. He was captured twice, and was a good and faithful officer. Colour-bearer Henry Croker, who gallantly carried the colours of his regiment at Cold Harbor, belonged to his company.

CAPTAIN M. H. MURPHY - Co. A, also graduated from the ranks; was severely wounded in front of Petersburg. A brave, intelligent, soldierly officer, and a native of Tipperary.

LIEUTENANT R. H. MURPHY - He originally belonged to the Corcoran Legion, in which he served with credit until commissioned in the 69th. He was mortally wounded at Amelia Springs, and died subsequently in hospital.

CAPTAIN DAVID LYNCH - He was a thorough soldier and excellent officer, was promoted from the ranks, having served throughout the war. Was severely wounded at Fredericksburg, transferred to the Veteran Corps, but again returned to his old command at his own request; was taken prisoner at Reams' Station, exchanged, and then promoted to a Captain.

CAPTAIN HARRY MCQUADE - He graduated from the ranks; was severely wounded at Deep Bottom, taken prisoner at Reams' Station, exchanged, and then promoted to a Captain.

LIEUTENANT JOHN NUGENT - He served with Corcoran; re-enlisted in the new regiment, was promoted from the ranks for bravery and good conduct.

LIEUTENANT JOHN MEAGHER - He entered the service August, 1862, promoted sergeant, then lieutenant. He was wounded severely on two or three occasions.

QUARTERMASTER DENIS SULLIVAN - Was a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, of Irish parentage. He was always with the regiment, and was instrumental in rallying the 20th N. Y. V. when panic-stricken at White Oak Swamp. Mustered out at expiration of term of service.

CAPTAIN JAMES SAUNDERS - (Company A), native of Cavan; in every action with his regiment except Chancellorsville. Mustered out on consolidation of service.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT ANDREW BIRMINGHAM - He died of wounds received at Fredericksburg, December, 1862.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT THOMAS REYNOLDS - He was killed at Malvern Hill, July 1st, 1862.

CAPTAIN RICHARD A. KELLY - He was promoted from the ranks for distinguished bravery at Malvern Hill, having personally taken prisoner the Lieutenant-Colonel of the 10th Louisiana Vols, and two others. Mustered out on the consolidation of the regiment; afterwards commissioned as Captain of Company A, on the reorganization of regiment, and died of wounds received at Spotsylvania, May, 1865, while a prisoner in the hands of the enemy.

CAPTAIN LEDDY - (Company B), wounded dangerously at Malvern Hill and Fredericksburg. Later had service in Veteran Reserve Corps.

LIEUTENANT M. LEDDY - a brother of the above. He was promoted from the ranks for bravery and long service. He was wounded on two or three occasions.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT LAURENCE CAHILL - He was wounded badly at Malvern Hill, and obliged to resign in consequence. Later had service in Veteran Reserve Corps.

JOHN J. GOSSON - Captain Company C, 69th N. Y. S. M., and First A. D. C. Staff of General Meagher; was with him in the above capacity in all the battles of the Irish Brigade. Son of J. Gosson, Esq., formerly of Swords, county Dublin. Entered the Austrian service through the influence of Daniel O'Connell, and served under his friend, General Count Nugent, as Lieutenant, in Syria, and subsequently, through the introduction of the Count, joined the Seventh Hussars of Austria (Prince Reuss' Hussars), a Hungarian regiment, commanded by Prince Frederick Liechtenstein.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT ROBERT LAFFAN - He lost his arm at Antietam, September 17th, 1862. Promoted from Captain McGee's company for gallant service. Later he had service in Veteran Reserve Corps.

CAPTAIN JASPER WHITTY - (Company C), wounded at the first battle of Bull Run while with the 69th N. Y. S. M. ; lost an eye at White Oak Swamp, and was wounded at Antietam. In consequence obliged to resign.

FIRST-LIEUTENANT NAGLE - (a descendant of the celebrated Edmund Burke, who was a cousin of his german grandfather)-wounded seriously at Antietam, in the right shoulder. He was later made a Captain. Later had service in Veteran Reserve Corps.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT CHARLES WILLIAMS - He was killed on the field at Antietam.

CAPTAIN MAURICE W. WALL - He was a native of Tipperary; entered the service in the old Sixty-ninth, Co. K ; was next commissioned in the 88th . He was an excellent staff officer, being equally brave, reliable, and intelligent.

CAPTAIN TIMOTHY L. SHANLEY - He fought with Mulligan at Lexington, Missouri, afterwards joined the 69th with his company. Died in Frederick City, Maryland. October 2nd, in consequence of wounds received at Antietam.

CAPTAIN JOHN H. DONOVAN - He lost an eye at Malvern Hill, July 1st, 1862. He was later a Major in the Veteran Reserve Corps.

SECOND-LIEUTENANT MARTIN SCULLY - He was wounded at Fredericksburg, December 13th, 1862 ; also with Mulligan at Lexington.

CAPTAIN MURTHA MURPHY - Company C, a native of gallant Wexford, graduated from the ranks of the old Sixty-ninth. He was in twenty-eight or thirty engagements; was wounded only twice. His last achievement was the capture of thirteen rebels, including an officer, in front of Petersburg, by a little personal strategy worthy of note, for which he should have received the compliment of a general order, and at least a brevet appointment. But our gallant friend was too modest, and such acts were not very uncommon in the command.

CAPTAIN JOHN C. FOLEY - Was a native of Tipperary. He entered the 88th NYSV as 1st Lieutenant at the formation of the Irish Brigade. He afterwards raised a company and joined the 69th NYSV and acted as Assisstant Acting Adjutant General. He was wounded at Mine Run. He was mustered out at the end of the war.

CAPTAIN MAURICE W. WALL - Mustered out of the 88th NYSV on consolidation of the regiment, he then joined the 69th NYSV as a Captain on its veteran enlistment. He served until the end of the war. He was a native of Tipperary, who entered the army in Meagher's Zouaves Co K 69th NYSM. He was a staff officer who was considered brave, reliable and intelligent.

CAPTAIN EDWARD F. O'CONNOR - He was a fine, intelligent young officer, who also sprang from the ranks through merit and bravery; was wounded at Fredericksburg and Spottsylvania; taken prisoner at Reams' Station; exchanged, and then promoted captain Company F.

ADJUTANT DANIEL DOLAN - He was a native of Tipperary; was originally hospital steward, in which position he showed unusual tact, discretion, and capacity; but being ambitious he was promoted into the line, and then to the staff. In this position, for which be was very well fitted, he acquitted himself with distinction, and maintained the previous character of the regiment for order and discipline. He was in almost every engagement with the regiment.

LIEUTENANT JOHN NUGENT - He graduated from the ranks of the old 69th, taken prisoner at Bull Run and released; he then joined the new regiment; was wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg; participated in all the other battles of the Brigade up to the end of the war. He was a good, reliable officer.

LIEUTENANT JAMES MCCANN - He was promoted from the ranks. A steady, reliable officer.

LIEUTENANT OWEN MCNULTY - He was also from the ranks. A good disciplinarian.

LIEUTENANT PATRICK WARD - He was also from the ranks. A steady, well-conducted officer.

LIEUTENANT JAMES CONWAY - He was a good soldier and officer, promoted from the ranks.

LIEUTENANT GEORGE M. BELDING - He was a native of New York State, Served in the 32nd New York Volunteers, then in the 6th Cavalry, from which he was promoted to the 69th New York, in which he was quite a favourite, by his gentlemanly conduct and rigid performance of duty.

LIEUTENANT TERENCE SCANLON - He was a graduate of the old 69th; was wounded at the battle of Malvern Hill; taken prisoner and released; promoted from the ranks for good conduct, long and gallant services.

LIEUTENANT THOMAS MCGRATH - He was with the Brigade from its first organization; wounded at Gettysburg; taken prisoner at Reams' Station; released, and promoted for gallant services.

LIEUTENANT GEORGE NEVINS - He was promoted from the ranks. An intelligent, brave soldier.

LIEUTENANT ROBERT MCKINLEY - He was a native of Scotland; served three months in the 79th New York, also in the 1st New York Cavalry; promoted from the ranks of the 69th for bravery and good conduct; was taken prisoner before Petersburg.

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM HERBERT - He was also promoted from the ranks; was in every battle with the regiment.

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1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 OTHER INFORMATION