Keogh's Medals and the Galt House Fire

Galt House Hotel, Louisville, as it looked before the 1865 fire.

Stoneman's command trooped wearily into Knoxville, Tennessee, on 29 December 1864, having fulfilled a large part of the mission they began nineteen days earlier. By now, Sherman had completed his famed march to the sea, and Grant was tightening his stranglehold on Lee's army at Richmond and Petersburg. It was now becoming clear to Myles Keogh that the upcoming spring campaign would see the final actions of the war.

Soon after returning to Knoxville, Keogh, possibly in the company of General Stoneman, journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky, arriving in the early days of 1865. While in the city, the Irish officer boarded at the famous Galt House Hotel on the northeast corner of Second and Main streets. Acclaimed as Louisville's best hotel at that time, Galt House was originally the residence of Dr. W.C. Galt but by 1835, had been refurbished and opened as a 60-room hotel. Prior to Keogh's stay, Galt House had already quite a history. In 1842, the English author, Charles Dickens, wrote of his time as a guest at the hotel when he described himself "as handsomely lodged as though we had been in Paris."

Two decades later, the controversial killing of Major General William "Bull" Nelson in the foyer of this Louisville hotel would make headlines around the nation. Wounded in defeat at the Battle of Richmond, Nelson convalesced in Louisville while holding command of its defences when Confederate General Braxton Bragg threatened the city. On 29 September, 1862, Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis confronted General Nelson in the foyer of the hotel in an ongoing row over military authority. Their argument escalated and Nelson slapped Davis in the face, challenging him to a duel. Within a few minutes, Davis had returned with a pistol he had borrowed, and shot and killed Nelson. The General whispered, "It's all over," and died fifteen minutes later. The controversy arose as Davis was arrested but never tried for killing Nelson.

During the Civil War, the Galt House was commonly used for meetings of Union generals. In March 1864, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman met at the hotel to plan the invasion that led to the successful capture of Atlanta, Georgia and Sherman's March to the Sea.

Keogh's presence in Louisville, a city that he would visit regularly in the future, was likely related to organising the various Kentucky regiments under General Stoneman's command. The United States Subsistence Department was just at the back of the hotel which might offer another reason for Keogh/Stoneman to be there, kitting the command out for the forthcoming campaign.

In the early hours of 11 January, 1865, a fire took hold in the hotel and seems to have swept through the building at frightening speed. According to newspaper reports of the day, by 3.30 a.m. that Wednesday morning, Galt House was almost entirely in ruins. 'The New York Times' reported that the aggregate loss was "nearly a million of dollars." The remains of two bodies were discovered among the debris, one of whom was identified as "William Hanna, of Shelby County, Kentucky."

The suddenness of the event seems to have caught Myles Keogh by surprise as he had to escape from the flames leaving behind his cherished papal medals, the Pro Petri Sede and the Cross of St. Gregory, and some important personal papers. All were lost in the inferno and it would be two and half years later before Keogh had the medals replaced. On 30 September, 1867, Myles wrote home telling his brother Tom:
"My decorations that I lost in the fire in 64 [actually 1865] have been forwarded to me from Paris by a kind friend."
Keogh did indeed receive a full-sized set of replacements and replica miniatures from Paris through his "kind friend", Mr. Dexter Bradford of New York. This "Dexter Bradford" is presumably S. Dexter Bradford Jr., son of acclaimed Massachusetts writer, Samuel Dexter Bradford. Once described by 'The New York Times' as a "noted turfman and New-York society clubman", Bradford Jr. was a wealthy playboy who would have had the necessary contacts to arrange for the reproduction of Keogh's papal war medals in Paris. How Myles became acquainted with Bradford Jr., or the extent of their friendship, is yet unknown.

In this 1870 photograph, Keogh can be seen posing with an assortment of papal medals, including the miniature replacements as well as a Fifteenth Corps badge.

As for Galt House - within weeks, noted architect R. Whitestone began plans for the construction of a new hotel a block away from the original site, at First and Main. The project cost $1.5 million, an extraordinary sum considering the country was still recovering from the Civil War. The new Galt, which opened in 1869, was once again the centre of Louisville's community. However, after falling on hard times at the end of the century, Galt House II was closed in 1919 due to financial difficulties and soon after, in 1921, the building was demolished. 

Plaque at the site of the original Galt House, Louisville
Plaque at the site of the original Galt House, Louisville

Almost half a century later, in 1973, the Galt House was re-established by developer Al Schneider as part of Louisville's Riverfront Urban Renewal Project. An east tower was added in 1984, and the hotel is now one of the largest hotels in the Southeast United States.

Over the first months of 1865, Stoneman refitted his command in the hope that he would have one more chance to conduct a raid. By March, Stoneman's cavalry was finally prepared to drive old Dixie down...

Lest We Forget

JUNE 25-26, 1876

 7th U.S. Cavalry Killed in Action  

Commissioned Officers
Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, Commanding Regiment
Captain Myles Walter Keogh, Commanding Company I
1st Lieutenant William Winer Cooke, Regimental Adjutant
Captain George W. Yates, Commanding Company F
Captain Thomas Ward Custer, Commanding Company C
1st Lieutenant Donald McIntosh, Commanding Company G
1st Lieutenant James Calhoun, Commanding Company L
1st Lieutenant Algernon E. Smith, Commanding Company E
1st Lieutenant James E. Porter, Second-in-command, Company I
2nd Lieutenant Benjamin Hubert Hodgson, Adjutant to Major Marcus A. Reno
2nd Lieutenant Henry Moore Harrington, Second-in-command, Company C
2nd Lieutenant James Garland Sturgis, Second-in-command, Company E
2nd Lieutenant William Van W. Reily, Second-in-command, Company F
2nd Lieutenant John J. Crittenden, (20th U.S. Inf.), Second-in-command, Company L
Assistant Surgeon George E. Lord
Acting Assistant Surgeon James M. DeWolf

Non-Commissioned Staff
 Sergeant Major William H. Sharrow
Chief Trumpeter Henry Voss

Company A
 Corporal James Dalious
Private John E. Armstrong
Private James Drinan
Private James McDonald
Private William Moodie
Private Richard Rollins
Private John Sullivan
Private Thomas P. Sweetser

Company B
Private Richard Dorn
Private George B. Mask

Company C
1st Sergeant Edwin Bobo
Sergeant Jeremiah Finley
Sergeant George August Finckle
Corporal Henry E. French
Corporal John Foley
Corporal Daniel Ryan
Trumpeter Thomas J. Bucknell
Trumpeter William Kramer
Saddler George Howell
Blacksmith John King
Private Fred E. Allan
Private John Brightfield
Private Christopher Criddle
Private George Eiseman
Private Gustave Engle
Private James Farrand
Private Patrick Griffin
Private James Hathersall
Private John Lewis
Private Frederick Meier
Private August Meyer
Private Edgar Phillips
Private John Rauter
Private Edward Rix
Private James H. Russell
Private Ludwick St. John
Private Samuel S. Shade
Private Jeremiah Shea
Private Nathan Short
Private Alpheus Stuart
Private Ygnatz Stungewitz
Private John Thadus
Private Garrett Van Allen
Private Oscar L. Warner
Private Willis B. Wright
Private Henry Wyman

Company D
Farrier Vincent Charley
Private Patrick M. Golden
Private Edward Housen

Company E
1st Sergeant Frederick Hohmeyer
Sergeant John S. Ogden
Sergeant William B. James
Corporal Thomas Eagan
Corporal Henry S. Mason
Corporal George C. Brown
Corporal Albert H. Meyer
Trumpeter Thomas McElroy
Trumpeter George A. Moonie
Private William H. Baker
Private Robert Barth
Private Owen Boyle
Private James Brogan
Private Edward Conner
Private John Darris
Private William Davis
Private Richard Farrell
Private John S. S. Forbes
Private John Heim
Private John Henderson
Private Sykes Henderson
Private William Hiuber
Private Andrew Knecht
Private Herod T. Liddiard
Private Patrick O'Connor
Private William H. Rees
Private Edward Rood
Private Henry Schele
Private William Smallwood
Private Albert A. Smith
Private James Smith, 1st
Private James Smith, 2nd
Private Benjamin Stafford
Private Alexander Stella
Private William A. Torrey
Private Cornelius Van Sant
Private George Walker

Company F
1st Sergeant Michael Kenney
Sergeant Frederick Nursey
Sergeant John Vickory
Sergeant John R. Wilkinson
Corporal Charles Coleman
Corporal William Teeman
Corporal John Briody
Trumpeter Thomas N. Way
Farrier Benjamin Brandon
Blacksmith James R. Manning
Private Thomas Atcheson
Private William Brady
Private Benjamin F. Brown
Private William Brown
Private Patrick Bruce
Private Lucien Burnham
Private James Carney
Private Armantheus D. Cather
Private Anton Dohman
Private Timothy Donnelly
Private John Gardiner
Private George W. Hammon
Private John P. Kelly
Private Gustave Klein
Private Herman Knauth
Private William H. Lerock
Private Werner L. Liemann
Private William A. Lossee
Private Christian Madsen
Private Francis E. Milton
Private Joseph Monroe
Private Sebastian Omling
Private Patrick Rudden
Private Richard Saunders
Private Francis W. Sicfous
Private George A. Warren

Company G
Sergeant Edward Botzer
Sergeant Martin Considine
Corporal James Martin
Corporal Otto Hagemann
Trumpeter Henry Dose
Farrier Benjamin Wells
Saddler Crawford Selby
Private John J. McGinniss
Private Andrew J. Moore
Private John Rapp
Private Benjamin F. Rogers
Private Henry Seafferman
Private Edward Stanley

Company H
Corporal George Lell
Private Juilien D. Jones
Private Thomas E. Meador

Company I
1st Sergeant Frank E. Varden
Sergeant James Bustard
Corporal John Wild
Corporal George C. Morris
Corporal Samuel F. Staples
Trumpeter John McGucker
Trumpeter John W. Patton
Saddler Henry A. Bailey
Private John Barry
Private Joseph F. Broadhurst
Private Thomas Connors
Private David Cooney
Private Thomas P. Downing
Private Edward Driscoll
Private David C. Gillette
Private George H. Gross
Private Adam Hetesimer
Private Edward P. Holcomb
Private Marion E. Horn
Private Patrick Kelly
Private Henry Lehman
Private Edward W. Lloyd
Private Archibald McIlhargey
Private John Mitchell
Private Jacob Noshang
Private John O'Bryan
Private John Parker
Private Felix James Pitter
Private George Post
Private James Quinn
Private William Reed
Private John W. Rossbury
Private Darwin L. Symms
Private James E. Troy
Private Charles Von Bramer
Private William B. Whaley

Company K
1st Sergeant Dewitt Winney
Sergeant Robert M. Hughes
Corporal John J. Callahan
Trumpeter Julius Helmer
Private Elihu F. Clear

1st Sgt. Butler's Battlefield Marker

Company L
1st Sergeant James Butler
Sergeant William Cashan
Sergeant Amos B. Warren
Corporal William H. Harrison
Corporal John Seiler
Corporal William H. Gilbert
Trumpeter Frederick Walsh
Blacksmith Charles Siemon
Saddler Charles Perkins
Private George E. Adams
Private William Andrews
Private Anthony Assadaly
Private Elmer Babcock
Private Ami Cheever
Private William B. Crisfield
Private John L. Crowley
Private William Dye
Private James J. Galvan
Private Charles Graham
Private Henry Hamilton
Private Weston Harrington
Private Louis Haugge
Private Francis T. Hughes
Private Thomas G. Kavanagh
Private Louis Lobering
Private Charles McCarthy
Private Peter McGue
Private Bartholomew Mahoney
Private Thomas E. Maxwell
Private John Miller
Private David J. O'Connell
Private Oscar F. Pardee
Private Christian Reibold
Private Henry Roberts
Private Walter B. Rogers
Private Charles Schmidt
Private Charles Scott
Private Bent Siemonson
Private Andrew Snow
Private Byron Tarbox
Private Edmond D. Tessier
Private Thomas S. Tweed
Private Johann Michael Vetter

Company M
Sergeant Miles F. O'Hara
Corporal Henry M. Cody
Corporal Frederick Stressinger
Private Frank Braun
Private Henry Gordon
Private Jacob Gebhart
Private Henry Klotzbucher
Private George Lorentz
Private William D. Meyer
Private George E. Smith
Private David Summers
Private Henry Turley
Private Henry C. Voight

Boston Custer, brother of George and Thomas
Henry Armstrong Reed, nephew of George
Mark Kellogg, Newspaper Reporter for the Bismarck Tribune
Frank C. Mann, Chief Packer
Charley Reynolds, Chief Scout
Isaiah Dorman, Negro-Indian Interpreter
Mitch Bouyer, half-breed
Bloody Knife
Bob-Tailed Bull
Little Brave
Battlefield Monument

Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Myles Keogh

Myles Walter Keogh (March 25, 1840 – June 25, 1876) was an Irishman who fought in Italy during the 1860 Papal War before volunteering for the Union side in the American Civil War (1861 to 1865). During the war years, he was promoted from the rank of Captain to that of Major, finally being awarded the brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After the Civil War ended, Keogh received a permanent commission as Captain of Company I, 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment commanded by George Armstrong Custer during the Indian Wars of the 1870s. Myles Keogh was killed with Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25th 1876.

We will be analysing Keogh's life and career in chronological order - scroll down the opening page or click on the black triangles under 'Previous Articles' to access past research. If you wish to have an quick overview, watch the video below or visit the following recommended articles:

The Civil War Battles of Myles Walter Keogh

From 1862 to the end of the American Civil War, Myles Keogh fought in almost 80 separate engagements. He was never wounded in combat until the day he died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, 1876.


Keogh & Comanche - New Painting

Commissioned for the National Museum of the Morgan Horse, this original oil painting is now on display at that museum in Middlebury, Vermont. It was the artist's intention that the details relating to period, uniform, accessories and horse tack were accurately represented in the painting. The artist, signed as Lazarus, even modeled a horse in similar tack to get the posture correct.

Behind Captain Keogh and 'Comanche' are
Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and, left to right, Crow King, Rain In The Face, Gall & Sitting Bull.

It is expected that prints in two sizes will be commercially available in the near future.

Ireland & the American Civil War

A new and noble cause. More Irish fought in the American Civil War than in WWI and WWII combined. It's time for Ireland to recognise their sacrifice...

A number of like-minded individuals, who wish to promote Irish involvement in the American Civil War, have begun to commemorate this iconic conflict in Ireland. The aim is to develop a Civil War Trail and Memorial to those from the entire island who were caught up in the conflict. A site has now been developed to further this goal, called the Irish American Civil War Trail. It provides the project’s mission statement, and also a drop down list of potential trail locations within Ireland categorized by county.

The site is still under development and there are many images and locations to be added, particularly concerning the birthplaces of Colonels and Medal of Honor recipients. However, it will be added to over time and it is hoped it will act as a catalyst for the development of local interest at these locations. Please drop by and have a look at the site, and feel free to make suggestions as to potential additions, clarifications or to provide further detail on entries. We would also welcome any photographs of sites in Ireland that could be added. If you would like to contact the group you can do so on the Civil War Trail site or by emailing

Kildare's James Martin May Be Garryowen's Unknown Soldier

Story and Photos By Robert Doyle

The Peace Memorial at Garryowen.
In 1895, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad established a tiny station on the edge of the Little Bighorn battlefield and called it "Garryowen," after the Seventh's regimental marching song. By the mid-1920s, Garryowen was in private hands and was little more than a small market town. In May 1926, almost 50 years after "Custer's Last Stand," construction work was being carried out on an irrigation ditch just east of this station, along the line of retreat Major Marcus Reno's men took early in the battle. While digging, workmen discovered a near complete set of skeletal remains, accompanied by 7th Cavalry uniform buttons. The dead soldier appeared to be have been decapitated after death as no skull or skull fragments were ever found.

Looking down on Reno's retreat route from the area he defended.
The remains were buried in Garryowen with full military honors that year and overlain with a granite memorial inscribed: "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." But was this dead trooper American-born? Possibly not. It's likely, in fact, he was a native of Ireland. James Martin was born just outside Kildare Town in 1847. He enlisted in the 7th Cavalry on February 6, 1872, at age 24, and is recorded as having gray eyes, brown hair, fair complexion, standing at 5'5" tall. He met his end during Major Reno's retreat when he was shot from his horse and killed by a group of warriors.
At the time of the battle, the Santee Sioux still ritually practiced decapitation instead of scalping, and Martin may have encountered them. His remains were never identified, but Private John Foley from Dublin made the grisly discovery of a head under a kettle in the Indian village days after the battle. Foley went on record as stating that it belonged to a corporal from G Company.
Battlefield monument on the spot of a mass grave of 7th Cavalry troopers.
As only two corporals from Co. G were killed during the battle — Martin and a German called Otto Hagemann — Foley's identification of the head probably stems from his recognition of James Martin's facial features and his knowledge that this fellow Irishman was a corporal in the Seventh's Company G. The intriguing possibility is that the skeletal remains uncovered in 1926 and buried in Garryowen as the "soldier known but to God" could, in fact, be Martin's. The bones were discovered near the spot of his death, and the lack of a skull with the skeleton further suggests that the remains could be those of the Kildare man, one of only a few soldiers whose severed heads were found in the abandoned Indian village. Certainty might be established by an exhumation and the use of DNA evidence, but it is probably more fitting that this soldier rests with honors near the monument to the fight in which he gave his life.


Artilce first appeared on

History Ireland and the Pope's Irish Battalion

In the latest edition of the bi-monthly publication - 'History Ireland' - an article recounts the brief history of the Pope's Irish Battalion, marking the 150th anniversary of the 28 day long 1860 Papal War. Garrisoned in Ancona on the east coast of Italy, the conflict was to be Myles Keogh's first taste of military life.

A copy of the magazine can be sourced here

Myles Keogh in 'Military Illustrated'

Renowned UK historical magazine, 'Military Illustrated' has published an article on the life of Myles Keogh in its July 2010 issue. Titled "Custer's Irish Officer", the article is a synopsis of Keogh's remarkable military career through the three wars he fought in.

A copy of the magazine can be sourced here.

Myths & Legends about Myles Keogh

In the hundreds of books, papers and articles that have been written about Custer's Last Stand, the same misstatements about Keogh turn up again and again. (These can be quite useful in their way; once you are on the alert for them, you have a pointer as to the likely accuracy of the rest of the work in which they appear.) The "Wild I" myth is just one example. There are many more. Here are some of the recurring favourites:

1. Keogh was a "soldier of fortune"
WRONG. This phrase is irritating enough even when applied to his earliest years in America, since it implies he was in the army solely for the money; but as, technically, he meets the definition -- a foreigner serving in another country's army for pay -- it cannot be argued with in that context. That is not where we usually see it, however. Any number of writers cheerfully describe him as a "soldier of fortune" at the time of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Since he had become a U.S. citizen in 1869, this is plainly an absurdity. He was serving in his own country's army. From 1869 onwards, therefore, he was no more a "soldier of fortune" than any American-born officer in the 7th Cavalry.

2. Keogh was a member of the "Custer Clan"
WRONG. A common misapprehension born of two things: a few photographs showing Keogh in social gatherings with the Custers, and his presence in Custer's immediate command on June 25th 1876. The reality was somewhat different. While Keogh and Custer had been on moderately friendly terms during the Civil War, their relationship took on an edgier tone in the first year of the 7th Cavalry's existence. When Custer was court-martialled in 1867, and the regiment split into supporters and opponents, Keogh was among those reported as being in the "not friendly" camp. In the years that followed, spells of reasonably amicable relations alternated with times of considerable friction. So it is a mistake to include Keogh in the close-knit band of unquestioning "Custer loyalists". His relationship with Custer was far more complex and more thorny than that.

3. Keogh's horse, Comanche, was the sole survivor of Custer's Last Stand

WRONG. Leaving aside the thousands of Indians who of course survived the battle, Comanche was not even the sole cavalry survivor. While many wounded cavalry mounts lived only long enough to be put out of their misery by the relief party, one other horse, a grey named "Nap", returned like Comanche to Fort Lincoln to enjoy a long and happy life as a popular pet. Other horses from Custer's command were captured by the Indians, one at least being recovered by the Mounties after Sitting Bull went to Canada. And there are several reports of a dog belonging to Keogh's Co. I who escaped the fate of his comrades, lived with the Indians for a while, and was eventually returned to his troop. (Human claimants to the role of "sole survivor" are also myriad, but all have been successfully exploded -- most recently and exhaustively, in Michael Nunnally's book, I Survived Custer's Last Stand.)

4. The horse conferred fame on its rider, rather than the other way around
That is how it may look to us today. However, there is ample evidence that Comanche was spared the fate of other wounded horses on the battlefield solely because he had been Keogh's mount. As the Army and Navy Journal put it at the time, "there were those present who had a tenderness for anything associated with Keogh", and this was the reason the horse was rescued and nursed back to health. Some accounts from enlisted men confirm this. Early poems about Comanche, by G. T. Lanigan and John Hay respectively, put Keogh very much at the forefront. It is only in comparatively recent times that the horse has come to overshadow his rider.

5. Before the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Keogh's experience of Indian fighting was "virtually nil"
WRONG. This assumption is based on the fact that Keogh was not present either at the Washita (1868) or on the Yellowstone Expedition (1873), Custer's only previous encounters of substance with hostile Indians. Keogh had, however, had sole responsibility for defending the Smoky Hill route against Indian raids from late 1866 to the summer of 1867. When Sheridan took over from Hancock in 1868, there is evidence that it was to Keogh he turned for first-hand information on conditions on the front line. And while with Sully's expedition later that year, Keogh was fighting Indians almost every day -- indeed, it was in one such fight that Comanche received his first wound and, as the story goes, his name. Any interpretation of the Little Big Horn battle that hinges on Keogh's supposed "inexperience", therefore, should be treated with due caution.

6. Keogh was a "drunken brute" who was "hated by his men"
WRONG. That Keogh drank is not in dispute; almost everyone did in those post-Civil-War days. That he sometimes drank to excess is not disputed either. Mrs. Custer, in her book Following the Guidon, fixed that image of him for all time with her anecdote about the Irish officer who "sometimes became so hopelessly boozy" that he had thought it wisest to turn all his worldly goods over to his striker [his soldier-servant] for safe-keeping. But it was the indefatigable Fred Dustin, purveyor of the "Wild I" myth, who added in the "brute" element, with a story about a drunken Keogh chasing offending troopers and beating them with his cane. His source for this is dubious -- a self-confessed deserter -- and the conclusions that others have drawn from it ("hated") are at variance with much evidence that in fact Keogh was uncommonly well-liked by the men. A C. Rallya, in Winners of the West: "Every man in our troop idolised Captain Keogh". Sergeant John Ryan: "a good-hearted officer". Blacksmith Henry Bailey: "a nice man". Lt. Henry Nowlan (pictured right): "… his brave troopers, who dearly loved him …". An unnamed former 7th Cavalry private: "The names of most of the leading men of the 7th have left me. But a few can still be recalled. There was Captain Gillette of C Troop, a wild reckless officer who had little regard for God, Man or the Devil. Capt. Keho [sic] was just the opposite. He acted as chaplin [sic] and called all the men 'my boys'". Keogh's first biographer, Edward S. Luce, was deeply suspicious of the Dustin story, having had the privilege of asking Mrs. Custer herself about the truth of the matter. She dispelled for Luce any notion that Keogh was "a mean drunk"; she said he was never belligerent "in his cups", but always benign, happy, and inclined towards singing. She went on to describe him as unfailingly gentle by nature. She knew him; Dustin did not; we can draw our own conclusions.

7. Keogh struggled with bouts of depression
WRONG. Or probably wrong, in any clinical sense. This belief is founded on certain expressions of gloom and despondency that appear in some of his surviving letters. It is true that these are extreme at times ("wrecked life … hopeless aspirations …") and that he comes across, very touchingly, as a sensitive man who lives through his emotions. However, in almost every case his unhappiness can be traced to an objective cause. The most striking example is the death, in 1866, of the woman he had hoped to marry -- something that would make anyone somewhat downcast, one would think. Perhaps those who say there was a streak of melancholy in his nature are not wholly wrong; but before using his letters alone as proof of this, it is necessary to look at what was going on in his life when they were written. It was certainly not a characteristic that appeared to those who knew him. For them, words like "jovial" and "genial" were the ones that sprang to mind.

8. Keogh was a rough, tough, John-Ford-Irishman stereotype
WRONG. This turns up all too often both in non-fiction and in novels, sabotaging credibility wherever it appears. (Even the otherwise peerless Frederick Chiaventone, in A Road We Do Not Know, could not resist the temptation to saddle Keogh with "brogue" dialogue.) Snobbish as it may seem to use such a word today, Keogh was a gentleman in the full 19th-century understanding of that term: well-bred, well-educated, well-mannered, cultivated, at ease in the highest of society. His writings demonstrate an elegant use of the English language. The notion that, in speech, he would suddenly transform himself into a Victor McLaglen figure spouting "begorrahs" is patently silly, and any portrayal that suggests as much is flawed.

It is strange indeed that so well-documented a man should have received so much misrepresentation over the years. Perhaps it is because no-one knows for sure what part he played in the famous last battle; its historians have not felt the need to investigate him further, and have been content simply to pick up whatever the last writer said. Perhaps a certain amount of ethnic stereotyping, the McLaglen syndrome, has gone on. Perhaps, even, we who like and admire the real Keogh are being over-fussy in objecting to the mythical versions. But the further the myths stray from the truth, the further we all are from understanding the essence of history: how things were. It has, then, to be worth opposing these myths with the reality.