Monday, May 10, 2021

Two Wounded Irishmen, One Medal of Honor and Very American Wives

“As I lay alone that night, near my guns, in expectation of renewal of the conflict in the early morning … I involuntarily exclaimed: “Great God of the universe, can not this causeless fratricidal strife be compromised?” In reply a tearful voice came out of the stillness … “Compromise what? Can right be compromised with wrong and justice remain among men? Can freedom be compromised with slavery and either master or slave be free?”

– Willliam Patrick Hogarty, Antietam.

When people think about the Irish at Antietam, New York’s Irish Brigade comes to mind. In the bloody fighting at the Antietam’s sunken road that broke the center of the Confederate army, the Irish Brigade suffered 500 casualties. However, most Irish Americans who served in the Civil war didn’t serve in ethnic regiments like the Irish Brigade. William Patrick Hogarty was one of them.

Hogarty enlisted in the 23rd New York volunteers from Corning, New York in 1861. The 23rd arrived just in time to take up a defensive position outside Washington, D.C. after the Union army was defeated at Bull Run. Subsequently, Hogarty volunteered to join Battery B, 4th, US artillery attached to the Iron Brigade, a western unit that earned its name for its famous stands at Antietam and Gettysburg.

At Antietam Battery B rushed into the front lines ahead of the Iron Brigade and immediately deployed for battle. First there was a crackle of musket fire from Union skirmishers then Stonewall Jackson’s Confederates in full strength came yelling and charging at Battery B.

“In battery!” An officer shouted.

The artillerymen and their horses raced their guns into position for a fight and swung their guns at the charging Confederates.

“With canister load!

Hogarty and the men loaded their six 12-pounder Napoleon cannons with triple-shotted canister, 50 iron balls to a canister, turning the Napoleon’s into giant shot guns.

Commence fire!”

The conical hail of canister fire shredded the Confederate lines, but the Confederates kept coming, leveling the Battery B cannoneers with fire from their rifled muskets, as the rest of the Iron Brigade raced into the fight. By the time the bloodbath of fire played itself out and the guns fell silent, 44 of the battery’s 60 soldiers and 33 of their horses were dead or wounded. The battle ended, the survivors tended to the wounded and began shooting the wounded horses, their gallant and beloved horses.

Three months later Hogarty’s war would end at Fredericksburg when a Confederate cannon ball blew his arm off. The Iron Brigade did not take part in the futile charges at the stonewall where the Irish Brigade was decimated. It was on the far left of the Union lines where 25,000 Union soldiers waited for an order to attack the vulnerable Confederate flank. For some inexplicable reason only a lone division of 4,500

men led by Irish-American George Gordon Meade was ordered to attack. Hogarty was among the wounded and his injury was so severe that his arm had to be amputated at the shoulder. He was discharged for disability.

For valor at Antietam and Fredericksburg, William Hogarty was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The commanding Union generals in charge the battles got sacked.

In the last year of the war, Hogarty re-enlisted, served in a reserve capacity and was promoted to captain for merit. When the war ended, he stayed in the army and helped run the Freedman’s Bureau in Tennessee and Kentucky along with operations to suppress the Ku Klux Klan. He was at Leavenworth, Kansas, running recruiting operations when he retired in 1870. He built a home and ran a fruit orchard outside Kansas City near the Freedman’s University at Quindaro. He and his wife are buried at the cemetery nearby.

Hogarty’s American story illustrates its hard life and the power of assimilation especially on the frontiers beyond the ethnic, sectarian and political strife of the big eastern cities.

Hogarty’s parents – Patrick Hogarty and Honora Barry -- were married in the Catholic parish at Monasterevin, County Kildare, in 1834. They left Ireland sometime in the late 1830s or early 1840s probably just before the worst of the Famine hit.

William was born in the US in 1840 and his older brother Michael was born in 1835 in Ireland. William’s records aren’t consistent with Micheal’s which indicate Michael immigrated to the US in 1844 or ’47. This ambiguity is something William shares with General Phil Sheridan and West Point “faculty dean” Dennis Hart Mahan. Perhaps it’s the Irish who first invented the “anchor baby” claim on American citizenship.

In 1849 Hogarty and his parents were living in central New York State when both parents died within days of each other, probably due to the cholera epidemic that swept New York that year. Patrick and Michael moved in with local families, earning their keep. At ten, Patrick worked and lived with Victor Warren owner of a hammer factory in New Lisbon, New York. Michael was a farm worker in the Thadeus Cattin household at Catherine, New York. By the late 1850s, both brothers were at Alfred University affiliated with the Seventh Day Baptists at Alfred, New York. Someone was watching over the orphaned Hogarty boys, perhaps Cattin or Warren.

Michael like his brother joined the Union army. Fighting with the 141st New York Infantry during Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, he was wounded and lost an eye at the battle near Resaca, Georgia. Like William, Michael was discharged for disability and re-enlisted again when he could.

Following the war Michael and his wife Sara took Horace Greeley’s advice “Go West, Young Man, Go West” and joined Greeley’s Union Temperance Colony at what became Greeley, Colorado. Their daughter married Colorado’s “Silver Fox”, Delph Carpenter, father of the Colorado River Water Compact which governed water sharing among the western states. Carpenter was a Mason and Methodist and like Ms. Hogarty, a child of the original settlers of the Union Temperance Colony.

The Hogarty women and The Daughters of the American Revolution are responsible for keeping the records that connect the two Irish orphans, William and Michael. The orphans married the Carr sisters of north central Pennsylvania who trace their family roots all the way back to Revolutionary war soldier Samuel Granger of Connecticut who in turn was a distant relative of the Adams family.


The Cannoneer: Recollections of Service in the Army of the Potomac, Augustus Buell

Histoy of Kansas, “William P Hogarty”, William G. Cutler

War Talks in Kansas, “A Medal of Honor”, William P. Hogarty, cemetery records, biographical extracts, and DAR notes, census, marriage, military and passport records

Lineage Book, NSDAR, Volume 023: 1898, Daughters of the American Revolution