Derry-Londonderry links to Philadelphia.

The links between Counties Derry, Tyrone and Donegal to the 69th Pa. Infantry. Many and strong.

Many who visit this website have excellent knowledge of the history of the 69th Pa Infantry with great knowledge of how the regiment formed up from the early militia units in and around Phladelphia evolving into the 69th Pa just prior to the commencement of hostilities in 1861. Many will have great knowledge of the battles the regiment fought in, who were its officers,what were its loses,where it fitted into the greater structure of the Union Army. Many will know that it had a lot of Irish "connections" but don't really have a good understanding of these connections. difficult to do from the other side of the infamous "Pond", the North Atlantic ocean. Let me see if I can add some additional information from this side of the "Pond".
The first time I read the history of the 69th Pa. one of the first things that was immediatley flagged up to me was that this regiment had a very high percentage of Irish born officers and men and an awful lot were from the three counties mentioned. There were much smaller numbers from many other counties and few counties did not have any connections.

The approx "catchment area" for the port of Derry from the 17th century until mid 20th century.

Why Derry-Londonderry?. This is a story that goes into Irish history and politics. It is of course the same place. The original name was the Irish Doire meaning the place of the oakwood. However after the Plantation of the early 17th century after the fall of the old Irish ruling families the O'Neills of Tyrone, the O'Donnells of Donegal and the O'Cathans (O'Kanes) of the Roe valley Co. Derry who fled the country to Continental Europe. In fact some of the O'Neills made it to Rome and are buried there. The English government in London decided that because these families "abandoned" their lands they decided that they would now forfeit their lands and it was for the the English government to settle with people from England and in particular Scotland. Derry was now the state property ie it was now London's Derry hence the name Londonderry. In the mayhem that has happened in N.Ireland over this past 40 years the city has had popultaion "exchange" across the river Foyle, the west bank on the Donegal side now having a more nationalist population and the east side a more loyalist population. Obviously it is seen that the name of the city has taken on two seperate idents Derry from the Irish " Doire for the Nationalist west back and Londonderry for the more loyalist east bank.I will not bore the reader with anything further on this vexed subject!.
Another point that those interested in the 69th Pa should keep in mind is that the majority of its fighting men were from the three counties shown ie Tyrone, Derry and Donegal. Counties Derry and Tyrone are in N. Ireland and Donegal is in the Republic of Ireland. However in the era of the American Civil war 1861-65 Ireland was as one with 32 counties. This said let us look at the N. American connection to N.W Ireland especially the Philadelphia emigrant connection with Derry port. Historically a very important one.
It is seen that the port of Derry is situated up stream at a point where a crossing point and bridge could be established. The Foyle is a very sheltered lough and not greatly affected by the prevailing N. Atlantic weather patterns as it is sheltered by the Inishowen peninsula. It was in centuries past an ideal place for ships to sail to the newly opening up N. American continent and Canada. Even the Vikings on their arrival circa 800 A.D. established a port slightly up stream from Derry.
Those of you who have Scots Irish roots if you can research far enough back will soon find traces to Derry. The Scots Irish the folks who came from Scotland during the plantation time stayed a while and due to a degree of religious persecution and the view of making themselves a better life in the newly opening up N. America headed west. Derry was an obvious choice port of departure. The trickle west started early on when America was referred to as British North America. The main emigrants starting to go west were mainly Scots Irish Presbyterians. One man of note being the Rev Francis Makemi from Ramelton Co. Donegal who established Presbyterian congregations one at Rehoboth in Maryland and others in the Philadelphia area. The emigration volume of the native Irish Catholic population at this time was small.
However from the beginning of the 18th century the numbers of Scots Irish heading west increased greatly.It is recorded that from 1718 onwards some quarter million Scots Irish left from all the 9 counties of Ulster ie Antrim, Derry Tyrone, Down, Armagh, Donegal, Monaghan, Fermanagh and Cavan. Though Derry was a major port of departure. because of the small draft of the sailing ships they could depart from the smaller ports of Coleraine, Newry, Larne and of course Belfast. However Derry would still be the major port of departure for emigrants from Tyrone, Derry and Donegal.

Sketch of Derry by artist J.Nixon just prior 1790. Note St. Columbs Cathedral on the hill and houses running down to river's edge. Note small ferry. Most important the ship to the right was probably preparing to set sail for America and probably Philadelphia. No doubt many many Scots Irish on board. This vista clearly seen to this day. This is where the sailing ships anchored right up until the development of the bigger metal steam ships when the passengers were conveyed by paddle tenders to the deeper water port at Moville. This is where Moses Granlees (later of the 69th Pa.) would have joined in the Spring of 1847 to head to America. No doubt numerous young men destined for the 69th Pa and other regiments did likewise.

As the politics of the British N. American colonies started to change and as the War of Independence loomed many of the Scots who had emigrated and initially were pro-British changed their loyalty and many became main players in this war. One such man was Colonel John Haslet a Presbyterian minister from near Dungiven who was farming in the Mispillion Hundred in Delaware who threw in his lot with Caesar Rodney of Delaware, formed up the Delaware Regt. for Washington. Though little credit is given to Haslet in American history it should be. Haslet was a most amazing man who played a major part in motivating Rodney to persue the war by his correspondence and his regiment's fighting ability. Delaware the 1st state of the Union owes a lot to both men. Sadly Haslet was killed at the battled of Princeton while Rodney went on to sign the Declaration of Independence. Haslet is buried in the Old Presbyterian church cemetery at Dover Del. It was from Strabane Co. Tyrone that another man of note James Dunlop a printer and an Ulster Scot emigrated. With his printing skills he was the one charged with printing the Declaration of Independence. Another man of note that will interest 69th researchers is that the man who led the Confederates in the later Civil War 1861-65 was one General Robert E Lee whose ancestors left Derry on the ship The Faithful Stewart in 1795. This ship left for Philadelphia with a James Lee and his extended family in July 1785 hoping to set up a better life in America. Alas the The Faithful Stewart did not make it and floundered on a Delaware beach with a great loss of life. James Lee survived with a few others of his extended family. A descendant of this man would be General Robert E. Lee well known to the men of the 69th in 1861-65. After the success of the War of Independence as the "new" Americans saw it or as the war of the "rebellion" through British eyes events politically stabilised and trade exchange increased between Derry and Philadelphia. The number of emigrants travelling to America also generally increased but varied quite a bit due to crop failure, famines and work available in what was a very agricultural dependent Ireland. After the War of Independencs America had to build a society and contruct its future. It needed people. It had only to look to Europe. There would be willing millions ready to treck west. However let us focus on Ireland. It is generally assumed that the famine era mid 19th century was "the" era of Irish emigration especially the Irish Catholic population. In fact emigration of the Irish Catholic (in the main Catholic) had started to increase early in the 19th century. The end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 saw an economic downturn in the Irish economy and emigration started to soar.
The window of emigration of young men from Derry, Tyrone and Donegal (and some adjacent counties with Derry as a viable emigration point) was between 1830 and 1860 if they were to enlist in the 69th Pa. and noted as Irish born irrespective of the year they left in this window or what age they left Ireland.They would be of a correct age bracket to enlist. Researching them as now it is seen that for example a young Moses Granlees aged about 18 and born in Fermanagh in 1830 passed through Derry port in the Spring of 1847 for Philadelphia. Many more men destined for the 69th would follow in his heels as well as many destined for other regiments of the Civil War. Many would later find their way into the Cavalry regiments that went west to fight in the Indian wars as the frontier went west.
Let us look again at this 1830-60 window and see what travel facilities existed from Derry to Philadelphia or other N. American and Canadian ports. The rail system as such in the northern part of Ireland developed in a fragmented way and as such would have been little use in gaining access to Derry. What lines there were did not really develop into a linked rail system to post 1860. Yes there few usefull links available by the early 1850's but places like Donegal had nothing rail wise until well after the Civil War era. A lot of travel by walking, perhaps being left to Derry by a neighbours horse and cart,or on whatever stage coaches available in the mail routes between towns. The likes of Capt Charles McAnally M.O.H from Glenviggen in the heart of the Sperrin hills had to do a lot of walking or travel by horse and cart to his nearest town Draperstown and hope for a seat on the mail coach heading to Derry. These men of the 69th Pa. by the time they reached Phildelphiia had little need for boot camp. What was their choice of ships available at Derry?.
Two major companies were established in Derry catering for the N. Atlantic passenger trade. Again looking at the 1830-60 window we find that the important shipping company established in Derry was by a local man William McCorkell, who developed the noted William McCorkell & Co. shipping company.This company started off life as a shipping agency servicing the American passenger ships on the N. Atlantic trade. By 1815 McCorkell's spotted as they say a niche in the market and purchased their first ship the Marcus Hill. The company thrived and at a time had some 25 ships. However by 1897 the company trading fell off and the ships were gradually sold the last being the well noted Hiawathha. During the same period a 2nd shipping company started up (needless to say passenger trade was good) a company called J & J Cooke Ltd. developed a similar company to McCorkells, had its own ships and also chartered ships for the trade. In the famine year of 1847 nearly 13,000 emigrants left from Derry for America. 40% of these were carried by the ships of J & J Cooke in 20 ships. 8 ships for Philadelphia, 7 for St Johns New Brunswick, and 5 for Quebec. However not all the emigrants left from Derry and as coastal trade on small ships developed with connection to both Glasgow and Liverpool it was possible for emigrants to leave for America via these ports. In fact Liverpool soon became the preferred port of departure. They were also ports where ships bound for Australia and New Zealand could be boarded if the emigrants choice was to those parts of the world. Thus if you happen to have interest in the history of the 69th Pa. and the emigrant path of its Irish born soldiers to America be aware that not all would have gone directly from Derry but could have gone to work in Glasgow or Liverpool make some money and head to America. This is why both Glasgow and indeed Liverpool have to this day an affinity with this part of Ireland Donegal in particular in the case of Glasgow.
Where did the passengers get the money for their passage?. Looking at the fares of the time they were relatively expensive. If say a whole family decided to stay together and emigrate and hundreds did they would have great difficulty raising the fares. What did happen in many cases was that a member of the family would emigrate say a year or two earlier and accumulate enough money to bring his or her family to America. Banking was in its infancy and the person in America would pay an agent in say Philadelphia (a firm by the name of Arthur Catherwood) who would issue pre-paid passage certificates which would be sent back to in this case the office of J & J.Cooke in Derry who then gave authority to the ships captain to allow them on board at Derry, and off to "Amerikay" they would go.
The two images above are of interest. The one on the right I have generated taking samples from file references to their county of origin in the 69th files. Sadly only in a small number of cases is their town, village or townland mentioned. It will be clearly seen that the greater percentage of soldiers Irish born are from counties Derry, Tyrone and Donegal and two smaller pockets linked to the ports of Dublin and Cork. Overall as regards the three main counties Tyrone had most men in the regiment, secondly Derry and thirdly Donegal. I feel that this point has been overlooked in the history of the 69th and hopefully this will clarify. The image on the left is a poster for a J.& J Cooke sailing for their ship Superior due to leave Derry for Quebec on Tuesday July 13th 1847. This was at the height of the 1847 famine and no doubt disease was brought aboard the ship by some starving diseased passengers. The outcome was that of the 360 passengers way way too many for a vessel of about 700 tons some 60 were reported dead by the captain on arrival at Quebec, no doubt at the quarantine stop at Grosse Isle, a place no stranger to disease and death on Irish emigrant ships.
It is also of interest to note that the ships agent in Dungiven Mr David Mitchell would have been a blood relation of the infamous John Mitchel(l) the noted Irish Nationalist much lauded by the officers of the 69th. Pa. and ladies when his name was mentioned at their balls in pre-war Philadelphia. That would all change when Mitchel and his sons threw in their lot with the Confederates. Mitchel's eldest son also John at one time being involved in the initial bombardment of Sumter and later appointed as commander there. Another son the youngest William Mitchel as a colour bearer aged just 17 was killed in Confederate uniform at Picketts charge at Gettysburg. Colonel Dennis O'Kane would have most certainly known of Mitchel(l).

Derry port sketch 1790 by J.Nixon courtesy British Museum.

The 69th Pa. Vol. Inf. Some Background Militia Notes.

To understand how the 69th. Penn Vol. Infantry regiment was formed it will be necessary to read in some detail the political and social history of the city of Philadelphia and its environs from pre, through and post Irish famine times and the affect the incoming Irish had on the city. To understand its politics and development and the interaction of the incoming poor and in many cases illiterate Irish with the American population already in the city deeming themselves to be "real" native American citizens, "nativists". Perhaps not too many realised that they themselves were immigrants from an earlier period of American immigration. Perhaps the main "difference" lay in their religion mainly their Protestantism.
Like all emigrant groups there would be safety in making links and forming alliances. This the Irish and indeed many other groups such as the Germans did in pre Civil War Philadelphia. There would be Irish militias formed up and indeed some German ones. However the "real" native Americans of the city would set up their own militias. There would be strained relations. Some of the Irish militias named their units after the more noteable Irish patriots for example The Meagher Guards, Emmet Guards, Shields Guards. Montgomery Guards, Patterson Guards. However others seemed to choose more general names for example The Hibernian Greens, The Irish Volunteers, names simply indicating an obvious Irish connection etc.
These militia units would go on to form what was to become backbone of the 69th. Penn Vol. Inf.

The Shields Guards
General James Shields Altmore Cappagh Dungannon Co.Tyrone Ireland

This militia unit was formed up in Philadelphia circa 1851 and named after General James Shields from Altmore close to the village of Cappagh N.W. of Dungannon Co.Tyrone. Finding a militia unit naming itself as The Shields Guards in pre-war Philadelphia is understandable. Looking at the names of the soldiers in the various companies of the 69th one sees numerous names associated with Co. Tyrone names such as Bradley, McAnally, McHugh, Devlin, McWilliams and many more. Would these men know of Shields as well as Meagher and Emmet. Of Shields most certainly. Many would have known of him and his family prior to emigrating.They would have great kinship with him a fellow Tyrone man. Perhaps a link to the following website will give the reader a quick overview of this remarkable man. Click on icon below for additional information.

The Meagher Guards
General Thomas Francis Meagher
Born Co.Waterford Ireland

The Militia unit named after General Thomas Francis Meagher "Meagher of the Sword" who would be reasonably well now to the soldiers of the 69th as he had been arrested and deported from Ireland along with other members of the Young Irelander party amongst whose members was John Mitchel who for many reasons threw his lot in with the Confederate cause and had his sons join Confedarate units. One son Capt John C. Mitchel would at a time command Fort Sumter and die there, a second son James would survive the war and the youngest William would be killed aged 17 in Picketts charge at Gettysburg facing no doubt men of the 69th.
Meagher and Shields would in fact be the two Irish born Catholic soldiers in the Union Army linked to the Philadelphia militia names. Click on icon below for additional information.

The Emmet Guards.
Robert Emmet
Born Clonakilty Co.Cork Ireland

Named after Robert Emmet a political actvist in the late 18th century.Shields and Meagher were both Catholic and Irish born. However as those of you who have studied Irish history know not all those who took on the Anglo Irish establishment were Catholic and would have different ethnic roots. Many of the landed gentry ie the Anglo Irish from "The Big Houses" or estates would throw in their lot with the struggling Catholic Irish in many cases to the displeasure of their families. Robert Emmet was one such man. Irish history has many examples. Click on icon below for additional information.

The Patterson Guards.
General Robert Patterson
Born Cappagh Co.Tyrone Ireland

Named after a Robert Patterson born in Cappagh Co.Tyrone in an earlier generation. This man would see his name linked to a militia formed up in pre Civil War Philadelphia.
The alignment to Patterson would be on the basis that his father a Presbyterian had gone against the State in the 1798 rebellion era where both Presbyterians and Catholics rebelled against being treated as 2nd and 3rd class citizens respectively. The Presbyterians due to their political and financial clout were really the force behind the 1798 rebellion. They lost their struggle and many escaped to America and took their bitterness with them. General Robert Patterson had been born in Ireland and left a young man. He would no doubt have had some idea of his Irish roots and what had happened to his father.Like Shields he would take part in the Mexican war and no doubt this was known to the men in the Philadelphia militias.One wonders if Shields and Patterson ever met. It would be an interesting meeting as they could discuss a lot about their homeland. Hence the alignment with the name Patterson as a name for a Philadelphia militia. Click on icon below for additional information.

The Montgomery Guards

Major General Richard Montgomery
Born Raphoe Co.Donegal Ireland

Named after Richard Montgomery a British officer who changed sides just before the Revolutionary War. To me this mans affinity to his Irishness would be at least questionable. The basis that my best friend is an enemy of my enemy would ring true to some extent I should think in the case of Montgomery. He came from a landed and very pro-British establishment family at Convoy close to Raphoe in Co.Donegal. Reading his history and knowing some of the history of some of these families it was in their interest to have a family member a high ranking officer in the British Army. Many commissions could be bought indeed if an Anglo Irish Establishment family had something of an errant or troublesome son the Army was the place for him. I do generalise but some truth in what I say. It would appear that Montgomerys army career seemed to stall in the late 1700's for whatever reason and he seemed to have decided to go to America and throw in his lot with the Continental army in the War of Independence. It did not work out too well. However he did oppose the British in North America which was I suppose good enough for an Irish Militia unit to name itself in pre war Philadelphia!. Click on icon below for additional information.

The Hibernia Greens.

The Hibernia Greens were the oldest Irish militia company unit in Pennsylvania.The unit was formed up to welcome the Marquis de Lafayette for his final visit to America. May well have started organising as far back as 1823/24.
From a French aristocratic family Layfayette studied and became a high ranking officer in the French army. At the time France and Britain had very bad relations and it would appear he saw an opportunity to confront the British again this time in N. America.
In 1777, Lafayette purchased a ship, and with a crew of adventurers set sail for America to fight in the revolution against the British. Lafayette joined the ranks as a major general, assigned to the staff of George Washington. He served with distinction, leading America forces to several victories. On a return visit to France in 1779, Lafayette persuaded the French government to send aid to the Americans. After the British surrender at Yorktown, Lafayette returned to Paris. He had become a hero in the new United States of America.

Missing in Action - M.I.A.

Private James Skinneder Co. G. Born Co. Monaghan Ireland 1827 died Gettysburg Va. 3rd.July 1863.
Has no known grave.

The headstone/marker images above represent those of the very few soldiers who have recorded graves or on which we have burial information. Hundreds of the 69th Pa. soldiers have no known graves. No doubt they are mainly buried in mass battlefield graves or unmarked and unrecorded graves not only in the United States but in countries to which they returned or migrated to. Probably after their relatives passed on memories and information on them generally passed into oblivion. Many of these men were simply said to be "missing in action"- MIA. However here is a small memorial to one such man. Let this information be a memorial to all those with no known graves.
James Skinneder was born in Co. Monaghan Ireland in 1827. His name does not really fit into the "usual" name patterns associated with Ireland. At first glance the name suggests Skinnader was from Scots planter or Huguenot stock. However further investigation and with some knowledge of the history of Co. Monaghan its source can be determined. It is known that many census were carried out in Ireland mostly by the British military at various times. As both the Irish place names and names of people were difficult if not impossible for the English census takers to understand they simply wrote down what sounded correct to them resulting in "Anglicised" place and people names.
Such was the case of the name Skinnadar. The name is most probably the Anglicised version of the Irish name "scianadoir" a person associated with the use of knives. But for what purpose?. It is probably that the Skinnaders were an extended family or group of inter- related families who were perhaps employed by some of the ruling hunting families perhaps the McKennas, as skinners of animals hunted in the area of what is now Co. Monaghan. The name seems to be very unique and seems to be mostly in the Emyvale area of Co. Monaghan. The name is also found in parts of Scotland where the name turns up in the Scots Gaelic form as "seicheadair" a skinner of animals. Like so many poor familes or family members James Skinneder hits the emigrant trail probably in the post famine era and the next recorded information we have on him is in 1851. He was recorded as having married Elizabeth Quinn in St. Malachys Catholic church Philadelphia the 2nd Nov. 1851. It is noted that their daughter Mary Elizabeth was baptised at St Malachy's church in Philadelphia by a Father Kelly. At the relatively old age 37 years of age James enlisted in Co. G. of the 27th Pa. Infantry on May 5th 1861. It is possible that he had been a member of the Montgomery Guard militia prior to enlisting in the 27th. Pa. Regt. However by Sept. 6th of the same year this Irish Co. within a very Germanic 27th. Pa. transferred to the 69th Pa.
On July 3rd. 1863 James Skinnedar found himself fighting at Gettysburg. He received wounds that would prove fatal. He was probably killed by "friendly" fire by Cowans battery of artillery to the rear of the 69th at the famous Wall at Gettysburg. On July 7th 1863 an entry in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin lists his name amongst the casualties at Gettysburg. In a later muster out roll it is stated that he is "absent since wounded July 3rd 1863 at Gettysburg".The last military record on him. But what of his wife?. Records show that in 1866 Lieut. Bernard Sherry a most honourable man stated in Elizabeth's pension claim that at Gettysburg "Skinneder was mortally wounded and carried from the line". His wife subsequently received a pension of $8 a month. No record would ever be found of her husband. He was truly missing in action a fate that befell scores of his comrades. He was probably buried in an unmarked grave somewhere either on the battlefield or environs of Gettysburg.

General Alexander Webb, a friend of the 69th?.

Though my research into the 69th. Pa. Infantry has concentrated on its officers and men I have been taken aback by the number of negative comments made by fellow researchers about Brigadier General Alexander Webb Commanding the Regiments of the Army of the Potomac and his relationship with the 69th. Pa. in particular and with Irish soldiers in general. Rather than rush to conclusions about this I have done some limited research on him. I have some knowledge of the Irish or Scots Irish generals of the Civil War and I found none seemed to carry baggage or bias against any particular ethnic grouping. Perhaps as a European knowing the psyche of these men I am in a reasonably good position to get a balanced perspective on this.
Two letters written by Gen Webb soon gave me some insight into the man. The battle of Gettysburg on peaking on July 3rd 1863 was really the high water mark of the Confederate efforts for supremacy. After Gettysburg the war was effectively over. It was at Gettysburg where the 69th Pa. played a major part in stemming the advance at the Wall below the famous clump of trees.
One would have thought that a General in charge would have been fullsome in his praise for the 69th and the other regiments. Two weeks later however on July 17th 1863 General Webb penned the following letter to his father about Gettysburg. In it he states that though the 69th had lost all its officers its men when asked by him agreed to a man they would carry on their task and that he could count on them. They did obviously and won the day. However though acknowledging their gallantery to his father his father was asked not to make public any praise given to the 69th. by Webb himself.

Letter from General Webb to his father.

Head Quarters 2nd Brigade
2nd Division 2nd Army Corps
July 17, 1863
My Dear Father,
You left us all behind you I know but Genl Webb is still spoken of by the newspapers as being present. After sending you the copy of Genl Hooker's letter I'd not think the appointment will be unexpected to you. I am proud of having done everything for myself without the knowledge of a political friend.
At Gettysburg I forgot my brigade - and I won their confidence. The Rebels give me more credit for pretty good fighting. - I lost 452 men and 42 comd officers out of a little less than 900 men and 74 officers present with me at the assault. I think the fight must be considered a severe one. Of the 492 men only 47 are missing and 20 of those missing I think were taken out of the lines as prisoners. The Rebels were determined to break through and they actually took from me nearly one third of my fence and wall. Genl Armistead was mortally wounded after he passed me. I was a few paces in front of my men and he jumped the wall with about 150 of his men. Himself and 42 men died suddenly. I took six battle flags and more than double my number prisoners. The statement in the papers that I piled up the dead is correct. A Reb Col. when brought in my lines said "pshaw" when he saw my numbers. This boasting I write to YOU not the public. I will get credit officially I know. No men ever fought better than my men. I was just 39 paces from thousands of Rebs. Their officers desired to have me shot and yet they only got one little wound on the inside of my right thigh. It is well already. My Ass was truly fearful and I was almost disgraced. But all my command know that - to never leave that hill or mound. The 69th lost all its field officers. They obeyed orders After the Rebs were inside the fence I went to them and told them to fire to the front and rear and to a man they replied that I could count on them. Recollect father this is all in the family Do not let anyone read this but our own family then all facts and well known to thousands. Let them be alluded by them not by us.....Good bye my dear father. Write me soon I am to leave again tomorrow or the next day and look out for another terrible battle. Rely on Meade. He is the man we have been looking for.
The best we have discovered. Andy

It would be expected and indeed it would be normal for an army general on being victorious in battle to show appreciation of his troops. Even though the troops he led had perhaps caused him some discipilinary problems and misdeameanours these would soon be brushed under the carpet and his troops praised. General Montgomery one of WW2's quality generals with roots in Donegal took time out when finding some of his tank commanders had taken to wearing top hats or Trilbys for shade when operating in the deserts of N. Africa simply issued an order that "top hats were not to be worn during the N. African compaign"! a classic aside that ensured his men would fight with even more fervour for him. What he was saying really "look chaps I am amongst you, I see you first hand, great idea but I have to keep the armchair generals back in London thinking that I am a very strick on disciplin as per army regulations".He himself wore a rather shoddy beret in most theatres he fought in. He would be commanding mainly English, Scots, Irish, Welsh and Commonwealth soldiers of the 8th Army. Did he ever show dis-favour to any of their Nationalities?. Did he write letters to Winston Churchill after victories in N. Africa disparaging any of the nationalities that fought for him and were victorious over Rommel. I think not. He was a man of intellect, nouse and ablility.
Here is the transcript of a letter General Webb wrote to Andrew Curtin the Governor of Pennsylvania on August 11th 1863 about a month after the success of Gettysburg. I find it incredible that a Brigadier General would be so small minded that he took it upon himself to name three men of much lower ranks and be of the opinion that the officers of the 69th were of a lower intelligence. Also it was impossible "to govern Irish regiments".

Letter from General Webb to Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania.

Head Quarters 2nd Brigade
2nd Division 2nd Corps
August 11, 1863
His Excellency
Andrew Curtin
Governor of Penna.
I have the honor to inform you that discovering that Murdock Campbell holding a commission as lieutenant in the 69th Regt. P.V; but not yet mustered in the United States Service, has been guilty of challenging an enlisted man, a private in his regiment to fight him with his fists. I have forwarded an application to the mustering officer of this corps, requesting that he be not mustered into the United States Service. I would especially call the attention of your excellency to the fact, that it is impossible to govern "Irish Regiments," when its officers do not belong to a more intelligent class than that of Murdock Campbell, Lieutenant McAnally and Lieutenant Fitzpatrick 69th Regt. P. V; are type. I shall do all in my power to get rid of these disorganizing stumbling blocks. Lieutenant Fitzpatrick has tendered his resignation. I remain Sir
with all respect
Very Truly
Your Obed' Servt.
Alex Webb
Brig. Genl. Vols.
Commanding Brigade

The above letter penned to the State Governeot of Pennsylvania is quite unbelieveable. A Brigadier General in the army going to the trouble about a month after victory at Gettysburg to express such a generalised bigoted opinion on the Irish Regiments and by association reflective on all Irishmen in the Army of the Potomac. I doubt if Governor Curtin took too much noice of this vitrolic outburst.
Why was Webb of such a mindset?. I have read a little about him and some thoughts come to mind. I feel that perhaps he was a prisoner of his own background. Born in New York in 1835 to a fairly prestigious family whose history went back to participation the the War of Independence (real rebels with hundreds of Irish and Scots Irish soldiers in the ranks!). No doubt growing up in New York between 1835 until his graduation from West Point in 1855 he would have witnesssed thousand upon thousand of immigrant Catholic Irish flooding into the city. Illiterate and poor on the whole. They would be equated with the immigrant slave Africans from a slightly earlier period. The Irish were a sub class to what was developing to be a "nativist" mindset in a society that considered themselves "real" Americans, a mindset that the soldiers of the 69th and the Philadelphia Irish would experience prior to and at the start of the Civil War. I am of the opinion that this period between 1835 and 1855 when he graduated from West Point would set his mindset on the Irish. Reading about his progress in the promotion stakes in his army career it seems to suggest that initially promontion was good but at some stage seems to have stalled when some of his students that he had taught at West Point were being promoted above him. He had taken up the post of teaching mathmatices at West Point and Florida between 1855 and 1860 some five years.
Was he prepared to take command of such a regiment as the 69th Pa or other more Irish regiments of the army of the Potomac. I don't think so. On two counts. Firstly the army was on the whole a volunteer army, and secondly Irish soldiers fight with agreement with their superior officers not compulsion by, a subtle difference. Was he ever given any training at West Point on handling newly arrived immigrant soldiers from various mostly European countries. Little or nothing I think. Many did not even speak English.
Perhaps the most humiliating aspect for him was at Gettysburg after the 69th's principal officers such as O'Kane were killed having to go cap in hand to the lower rank soldiers such as Charles McAnally and get their committment to fight on which they did and very successfully, a psychological blow to Webb no doubt. If they had refused or fought poorly then he had a case to put blame in the public domain about them. They did the opposite and compounded Webbs situation. Just maybe it was the performance of the 69th Pa on the day ensured he later got a Medal of Honour. It is worth noting that Capt Charles McAnally the son of a small tenant farmer from the Sperrin hills of Co. Derry also received a Medal of Honour. Probably both men knew each other or their paths would have crossed as I have no doubt that like McAnally one would expect Webb to be leading his regiments from the front. These in my opinion are some of the factors shading Webbs opinions of Irish Regiments and by association Irish soldiers. After the war Webb went back to his academic career to which he was probably more suited and died in New York in 1911. McAnally after the war went south into Louisiana and Texas and had a life of some adventure. He died in Wash D.C. Aug 1905.

The famous Copse of Trees at Gettysburg.