Showing posts with label Daniel J. Keily. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daniel J. Keily. Show all posts

150 years ago today - Keogh arrives in America

SS Kangaroo
Within days of leaving Italy, Myles Keogh, Dan Keily and Joseph O'Keeffe arrived in Liverpool, England en route to America to fight for the Union Army in a Civil War that had raged for almost a year. In their possession was a letter of endorsement from Archbishop Hughes for presentation to Secretary of State, William Seward.

Water Street, Liverpool, England, circa mid-1850's
At the offices of the Inman Line in 22 Water Street, Liverpool, Keogh and Keily booked passage to New York aboard the Steam Ship, SS Kangaroo. They purchased a first class cabin at the cost of $75 and were registered to sail two days later on Wednesday 19th March. The day they booked passage was March 17th - Saint Patrick's Day - and, Liverpool being one of the more Irish-populated cities in England, the festivities must have been something special for two men long since absent from their homeland.

A report of the evening's celebration in a local newspaper makes reference to Keogh and Keily's contribution to the occasion: Father Nugent...saw also on the platform two men who fought nobly in the Pope's Brigade...The gallant defenders of the Pope, at the request of Father Nugent, advanced to the front of the platform, and were enthusiastically cheered. One of them, Lieutenant Myles William Keogh addressed the meeting, and stated that he had only a few hours since arrived in Liverpool from Rome, and hearing that the festival was being celebrated, he hastened to be present (applause). Ten days before he had the pleasure of having an audience with the Pope...Mr. Keogh referred to the festival they were celebrating, and said that "so long as they cherished the glorious reminiscences which belonged to their country, Ireland would never perish. It might be longer or shorter, but sooner or later Ireland would have her own."

On the 19th of March, the 'Kangaroo' stood ready to sail and was boarded by Keogh and Keily. Joseph O'Keeffe would sail the following week aboard the SS 'Etna'.

The following day, the two Irishmen got as close to Ireland than they had been in two years - the SS 'Kangaroo' docked in Queenstown, County Cork (now called Cobh) to pick up passengers. A ship called Titanic would similarly dock at Queenstown to collect passengers approximately 50 years later.

The local paper reported the SS Kangaroo's arrival along with a 'charming' description of the women who boarded;
Source - The Cork Examiner, 20 March 1862 -
THE steam-ship Kangaroo, outward bound, arrived in the harbour this morning. She took on board 132 passengers, principally females of the humble class in life.

The journey across the Atlantic would take almost two weeks and the vessel docked in New York at 5 p.m. on April 1st, 1862. Keogh and Keily were only among 11 passengers who occupied the first class cabins.

Into Battle with the Union Army - June 1862

"They came directly from Italy, where they were lieutenants in the Pope's service. They went directly to the field in Virginia. They fought, they died--these gallant Irish gentlemen--dear old boys--God bless them"

Colonel John Joseph Coppinger, 1894.

By the beginning of June 1862, the redoubtable Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson and his Confederate command were in retreat, southward up Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. General James Shields, along with his three Irish aides, Keogh (pictured left, dated 1862 - note Papal medals), Keily and O'Keeffe were at Front Royal, coordinating his movements with the 15,000 troops of Major General John C. Frémont.

In reference to Front Royal's capture, on May 30th 1862, Shield's reported;

"GENERAL: The First Brigade of this division, General Kimball commanding, preceded by four companies of Rhode Island cavalry, under Major Nelson, entered this place at 11 o'clock this morning and drove out the enemy, consisting of the Eighth Louisiana and four companies of the Twelfth Georgia and a body of cavalry...... Captured a large amount of transportation, including 2 engines, 11 railroad cars, 5 wagons with teams, much quartermaster stores, and a quantity of small-arms recently captured from us have been recaptured. The loss of the enemy in killed is not yet known. The names of all prisoners captured and recaptured will be forwarded to-morrow.
Your obedient servant,
JAS. SHIELDS, Major-General."

Union Camp at Front Royal 1862

General Shields was becoming confident as Jackson's army, pursued by Frémont, was moving up the valley, along the Staunton turnpike. However, the wily Jackson was destroying all bridges he passed along the Shenandoah river, from Front Royal to Port Republic, rendering it impossible for Shields' division either to strike Jackson or communicate with Frémont.

Shields' division continued its progress and reached the town of Luray on June 4th, after having marched 1150 miles in forty-three days, fighting one severe battle and many lesser engagements. On that date, Colonel Nathan Kimball (right) commanding one of Shields' brigades wrote;
"Forty per cent. of the command were now without shoes, two per cent. without trousers, and other clothing was deficient. And now, without any supplies, officers and men were well-nigh worn out."

Despite the wavering moral of his troops, General Shields felt that the time had come to entrap 'Stonewall' by severing his line of retreat and catch him between a number of Union brigades. Shields later described the plan he had hoped would be successful;

"The enemy had an impassable river in his front; Frémont's can
non were in his rear. This river could not become fordable in less than three days. It was only necessary to place him between Frémont's artillery and mine, with an impassable river in his front, to insure his destruction, and to prevent him from effecting his escape by any by-road. It was only necessary to cut the railroad at Waynesborough, 18 miles distant, to burn the bridge and depot at that place, and he would be compelled to lay down his arms."

To facilitate this ambitious maneuver, the General was required to disperse his force and on the 5th, Colonel Samuel Carroll's brigade, now partially supplied, moved with only 1200 men and 1 battery, for the village of Port Republic, to secure and hold the bridge at that crossing, if it should not already be destroyed - his order was; "go forward at once with the cavalry and guns to save the bridge at Port Republic." Sam Carroll (left) was only given command of the brigade in May on the basis of his obvious ability and his performance at the battle of Kernstown - this was to be his first time to lead his new brigade in combat. After securing the village, he was to advance a further 18 miles to the town of Waynesborough (as per Shields plan), cutting off Jackson.

On the morning of the 6th, Brig. Gen. Erastus Tyler's (pictured right) brigade of 2000 men, including a small detachment of cavalry, and 1 battery was ordered to follow and support Carroll. Myles Keogh went with them, bearing an order that urged Carroll to strike the flank of Jackson's army;

To Brigadier-General CARROLL,
Commanding Advance, Conrad's Store:

I have received your very instructive communication, and kept the orderly until this morning. We are at work building a bridge. The progress is satisfactory. I have ordered the rest of your brigade to join you. Can you prepare for a spring on Waynesborough to burn the bridge, depot, cars, and tear up the railroad? Will this be practicable? I fear the enemy will escape if it is not done. I will send you all the cavalry I have if you can do it, but they are very few. I will send Captain Keogh to lead them. If you can cut the road at Waynesborough it will be a splendid exploit, and end Jackson, if we can thunder on his rear and you can take a good position to assail his flank. This, I think, you can safely do by keeping the river between you and them and getting into one of the angles you will see on the river above Long Meadow Creek. There is a bridge across the Middle River on the turnpike. That would destroy him. Let me know your opinion. We will soon send infantry across the river and cavalry too, to reconnoiter and cut their telegraph.
Major-General, Commanding Division.
FRONT ROYAL, June 6, 1862.

This Shields dispatch is most interesting. He's not just sending Keogh to Carroll with a message, but in command of "all the cavalry I have" -- quite something for a lad who's barely been in the country two months, and whose only previous training was as infantry. Shields must have had great faith in him.

At 2 a.m. the following morning, Shields sent Dan Keily galloping after Carroll with a dispatch urging him to attack "a broken, retreating enemy......your cavalry will capture them by the thousands". Shields, who judged Captain Keily "an able officer," designated him as his deputy and instructed Colonel Carroll, in this dispatch, to "confer with him on all occasions."

On Sunday, June 8th at 6.30 a.m, Keily, now in the company of Colonel Carroll, arrived at Port Republic. With them were 150 troopers of the First Virginia Federal Cavalry and the four guns of Battery L, First Ohio Artillery. Keogh was a little way behind, hastening forward the four infantry regiments that comprised the bulk of Carroll's brigade. General Tyler's brigade was another 15 miles away from the village.

What Carroll found was Jackson's army on the opposite side of an impassable river and the bridge across it still standing. However, the rebel wagon train was unsupported and separated from the main body of Jackson's army by the village and the flood swollen river. By seizing the bridge, Carroll could cut off the supply train and leave Jackson trapped between Frémont and Shields without the need to advance on Waynesborough. What followed was daring and should have gone down as one of the great exploits of the Civil War...