Note. Though many readers of this page in the United States may know that their ancestral roots are in Ireland
and their ancestors left Ireland in famine times few in reality really get to know where from exactly in Ireland.
Some may have
been lucky and found links to a county or a town or less likely a townland. The greater
number know their ancestors were "of Ireland". Many who had Irish ancestors who fought in the Civil
War either in the Union blue or the Confederate grey would have the same problem with no exact locations in Ireland.
in many cases were enlisted as they came off the boat or later by need or sense of duty simply enlisted and were recorded
as place of origin "Ireland".
However in the case of the three brother McAtameny soldiers of the Union Army we have a direct trace to their townland of origin, Tirhugh townland close by the village of Swatragh near Maghera Co. Derry. Let us take a very short overview of their short lives and that of their emigrant family.
"Modern" northern Irish history is mostly dated back to the early 1600's when the defeat of
the old Irish clans the O'Neills. O'Donnells, Maguires and O'Cathans by the English Crown forces and the enforcement
of the draconian Penal laws changed
things for ever particularly in the northern part of Ireland the old province of Ulster. As a consequence in many cases
the native population was displaced from the good lands and this was given to settlers from England and Scotland
in particular. The English settlers set up their
the Anglican Protestant church became dominant. The native Irish basically had to make do on the poor land in
the poor lands on the slopes and high ground of the Sperrin hills.
The Scots settlers also came in great numbers with their Presbyterian religion and engaged in trade and farming. However what evolved was basically a three layer society with the English at the top of the pile, then the Scots and finally the Catholic Irish at the bottom. The Anglican church deemed itself to be the power in the land and the "Irish" parliament established in Dublin was really a parliament that rubber stamped what the Anglo Irish society deemed favourable to themselves. The final say would however be with the parliament in London.
The Scots settlers as the years went on generally became disillusioned by the system. They had little control over their own affairs. What to do?. Look west to the newly opening up British N. America and Canada.Thus began the emigrant path of the Ulster Scots to America. However they soon realised that all was not all that different in the new America. Change was what they sought and many fought the English in the Revolutionary or War of Independence. The rest is history and America became the great Republic to the west. Ireland in the 17th and 18th century was totally controlled by the Anglican landlords. They had their massive estates, they had a compliant Irish parliament in Dublin. The native Irish populace had little say on how they were governed. Would this ever change?. Perhaps it might not have but for a small trick of nature.
The main trade route for what was an agricultural producing country like Ireland was for the landlords to export all their produce, cattle, sheep, wool, poultry etc to the markets of England. But what did the local Irish export or trade with. Not a lot really. They had the landlords rents to service and this was not an easy task. If they were seen to be making too much progress the landlord simply noted this and put up the rent. The tenant could not win. What profit he made from selling his pigs cattle etc he had to use for rent payment. The Catholic farmers as well as the Protestant ones also had to subscribe a levy to support the local Church of Ireland parishes. But what did they live on?. The potato grew easily in Ireland, it was nutritious and along with some milk became the staple died for the great proportion of the populace who were heavily reliant on this secure staple food. This is where things started to go badly wrong. We see countless examples of such scenarios on our T.V.'s happening daily in Africa where the population depends on one particular food as a staple diet. if it fails there is instant starvation needing intervention by such bodies as the U.N. and various food agencies. Ireland would not be so lucky in the middle 19th century. They relied on the potato. The potato crop would fail on quite a few occasions at this period. Mass starvation did take place, hundreds of thousands died, millions would emigrate in desperation. America was the best option.
This little background cameo really sets the scene for the emigration pattern and necessity for the small farmers of south Derry in this case. Thousands would emigrate to the developing cities of the American east coast and the eastern states such as Pennsylvania, New York and others. It was against this background that we have this most interesting and quite complete story of emigration of the McAtameny's, small farmers from from the townland of Tirhugh near Swatragh close by Maghera in Co. Derry. Tirhugh is about 765 acres in area. The 1833 Tithe Applotment lists some 44 small farmers living there. The majority were Catholic. The average acreage of each farm was about 17 acres which ties up with other groups of farmers in the area in mid/late 19th century S. Derry. However though it appears the average acreage was about 17. Be aware that in many cases families could exist in much smaller areas. They basically depended upon potatoes perhaps some flax or corn and a couple of pigs and cattle. Also that in this part of Co. Derry the landlord was one of the Trades Guilds of London in this case the Mercers Co. The landlords to the west from Maghera towards what was the Irish named town of Ballinascreen was the Drapers Co. of London. Hence the renaming of the town to Draperstown ie the town belonging to the Drapers Company.
As our story is about the soldiers of the Civil War let us examine what happened to the three sons of the family of Hugh McAtamney and his wife Mary Bradley who emigrated with their young family in 1848. Three of their sons Bernard, Francis and Hugh emigrated as children but as young men in 1860 joined up to fight the good cause in the Union Blue. We will also look briefly at two of their sisters who chose to marry two other Union soldiers. If one drives from Belfast to Swatragh as now it takes about an hour on good roads through south Co. Antrim, then swing north west acoss the northern shore of Lough Neagh crossing the River Bann at Toome then west towards Magherafelt then turn north close to Maghera northward along the east slopes of the Sperrin hills to Swatragh. The countryside is prosperous the towns neat and tidy with an air of wealth and well being, an Irish society economically probably as now at its best in all its long history. What if the journey was was being made in the mid 19th century?. It would be a countryside with cart tracks as roads, a much higher population density, massive poverty, small farmers trying to exist and feed their families and pay the dreaded rents. Many houses in many cases no more than hovels, a fairly dreadful scene. A subsistence existence at best provided the staple diet the potato crop remained healthy. It failed in 1845 and 1847 with disasterous consequences. Thousands starved dieing where they fell. The death rate was so high in and around Maghera pits were dug to bury the dead. These are clearly identifiable in the graveyard at the Glen chaple near Maghera town and in many other graveyards. Thousands upon thousands of Irish all over the island died, millions would emigrate. To have the fare to America could be the difference between life and death.So bad was the scenario in 1847 it is often referred to as "black 47" the year when the potato crop failed with disasterous consequences. This is where we pick up on the history of a family of McAtamneys living on the townland of Tighugh close to Swatragh. Their's is an interesting story primarily due to the fact that uniquely we have good family history from descendants in America as now and the ability to match what they knew to the geography of the area as now. In 1805 a Hugh McAtamney was born in the townland of Tirhugh. Tirhugh as will be seen on the map is close to the chaple at Granaghan near Swatragh. St. John the Baptist church at Granaghan was constructed between 1838 and 1842. In modern times it was given a fairly limited upgrade so the image down the page is basically the building the McAtamneys would have attended after 1842 until they left for America in 1848. Most certainly some of the younger children would have been baptised there and family attend Mass there. Hugh McAtamney was probably the son of a small hill farmer mostly involved in subsistence farming. Somewhere in perhaps the same townland or more likely a neighboring townland a young lady called Mary Bradley was born circa 1811, probably the daughter of another small farmer or labourer. The acerage of the Catholic tenant farmer varied in most cases between 15 to 30 acres. The cottage images to the left would be fairly accurate images of the sort of dwellings in Tirhugh at the time. The farmer with better land had probably a dwelling as shown on the top image and the poorer labourers or farmers that shown underneath. There would be thousands and thousands of such dwellings all over Ireland. Hugh and Mary were married about 1833. They were married by Father John McKenna probably at the old post penal chapel on Granaghan Hill predating the current 1838 church shown below. They started to raise their family, Margaret born in Sept. 1834, Francis born 1836, Mary Ann born 1838, Hugh born 1840, Bernard born 1843, Rose born 1846. Rose would be the last of the Irish born family. By 1845 the famine would be at its worst. Though there had been previous famines and indeed later famines eg 1847 the memory of the 1845 famine seems to be the deepest embedded in the Irish psyche. By 1845 Hugh McAtamney and his wife Mary and their children would be facing very bad times. The deaths amongst their neighboures would be increasing rapidly, food would be very scarce the dreaded communal burial pit at Glen chapel in Maghera would be in use. What could the family do?. They could try and hang on and survive, not a good option there was little if any State aid from the Mercer landlords though even some landlords were well intentioned they could not deal with the sheer numbers in starvation. America beckoned. This was their escape. It is very interesting to see that this family went as a unit. This is an important point. Generally this flags up that the family had some wealth or were able to sell off their farm and with what money they got for it were able to afford their passage to America. It is possible the Mercer Co. bought their farm from them, a kind of benine system to lower the number of small Irish farms and Irish looking to them for aid. It is also very likely that earlier "straggler" relatives had made it to America and were able to at least provide guidance to the travelling family and who knows provide them with a place to stay until they got organised in their new country. Whatever the exact circumstances Hugh McAtamney and his family took the fairly dreadful journey by road from Swatragh, roads that mere cart tracks at the time, to Belfast probably a full days journey. In Belfast they would pay their fares and join the British owned barque Arab for the jouney to America. It is noted that this barque of some 356 tons was owned by the Herdman family a well known Belfast business family of the time. It is also noted looking at the ships manifest the captains name was Samuel Simpson. There were 141 souls on board. The vessel is noted as arriving in Philadelphia in May 11th 1848 suggests that the vessel departed Belfast in early April. This is a classic Spring sailing by the ships of the time to avoid the N. Atlantic winter a very dangerous place for small barques. Also it also suggests the family had given some thought to when they would go to America. I feel that at the latest they planned in 1846-47 was to take a spring 1848 sailing to America. Their minds were made up by the autum 1847. As to the state of the barque Arab I feel that is was a ship in good repair not a classic coffin ship that one often hears about in the famine emigration stories. The Herdman family would have some moral integrity on these matters. It is interesting to note the passenger manifest mix. A high proportion of the passengers would be from a Presbyterian background. There was a mix of trades people and private emigants. It is also interesting to note what baggage they had with them Eg John Cunningham states he is aged 24 and it is noted he had 4 boxes and 1 barrel as goods. A James McClelland a farmer is noted as having 3 boxes and 2 barrels with him. The McAtamneys are listed as having 6 boxes and 1 bag. Overall it can be deduced that this was a well organised voyage on a vessel that was fit for purpose at the time. it was certainly not a coffin ship, unseaworthy and full of penniless emigrants. The barque shown on the left is probably very similar in size and shape to the Arab.
Having reached Philadelphia one wonders what was the families plan. I have the feeling from information on hand that the family had already planned to go west to the coal mines in Cambria Co.in west Pennsylvania where it is known there was already a sizeable population of early Co. Derry emigrants already established and no doubt with accommodation and work connections. This is where the family headed. A long journey but shortened by the use of the numerous canal networks running west between Philadelphia and Cambria Co. It is thought that the journey would take about 5 or 6 days. They finally settle in Washingtown Township Summit Cambria Co. This would become their longtime home. Their local chaple would be St Aloysius Gonzaga at Summit (Cresson) Cambria Co. This where Hugh and Mary McAtamney would have their American born children baptised, married from St. Aloysius and many buried in its associated cemetery. It is of interest to note that this chaple was establishd in 1838 the same year as their chapel at home, St John the Baptist at Granaghan Swatragh was being built. The first child born in America to Hugh and Mary was Sarah born in 1848 the year they arrived. Their next child Bridget was born June 1850 and John born Nov 1852. There may have been a final child.
It would appear the family settled into and embraced their new life and country quite quickly. The children would appear to have been given opportunities for basic education as later documentation would show. I feel that the family soon had pride in their "American dream", three sons would later join the Union Army in the Civil War and two sisters would later marry Irish Union soldiers. By 1853 Hugh McAtamney the father had been in America the 5 years necessary for applying for naturalisation papers to become an American citizen. By being granted this his whole family would be automatically granted citizenship. This is granted.
The first disaster to befall the family was in Jan. 1854 was when Hugh's wife Mary died at a relatively young age. There would be other deaths in the years ahead. Mary was buried in St Aloysius cemetery at Summit near Cresson. However the family hung in and as the three sons Bernard, Hugh and Frank grew into their late teens they would get employment as miners or labourers. The Civil war would see all three sons volunteer for the Union Army.
Note; As will be seen on some of the old documents the name McAtamney has varient spellings. McAtamney, McTamney,McTammaney etc etc. This will be found in numerous examples of Irish immigrant names into America. Don't forget that the names of such folks as the McAtamneys had their original Irish name Mac an Tiompanaigh ( a Tympanist or musician). This is a rare name fom Co Down and there are as now a few Anglified versions such as Tempany or Tenpenny still around there.The name derived from this Irish name has in Co. Derry evolved into McAtamney which seems to be concentrated in the greater Maghera area as now. The Irish name used way back in Co. Derry was basically Anglified by the English census takers into basically to what they thought they heard, this was further complicated by the emigrant giving his name when he arrived in America and remember he may well not have been able to write his name but had a sound in his head of what he thought was his name. This would be further corrupted by what the already established Americans thought they heard!. This is the reason why as now Irish people looking at American names can identify an Irishness about some of them though the spelling varies greatly.
Bernard was born in the townland of Tirhugh close by Swatragh sometime in 1843. We do not know the exact date but what
we do know
is that he was either baptised by the parish priest Fr. John Dempsey or the curate Fr. Patrick Hasson. Bernard arrived
in America from Ireland aged about 6 years. No doubt he had few memories of his old home but was
wide eyed with the experience of his recent journey across the great ocean in a very small sailing ship
cramped together with many others.
He would soon be introduced to a very different world. He would soon start school in America. He would meet children from all nationalities. He would mix with children of different skin colour and native languages. He may well have attended for a short period one of the small local hedge schools in the Tirhugh area prior to his going to America. However it really all depended on the fact that his parents would have to subscribe a small sum each week to help pay the teacher and the upkeep of the school. Another consideration at the time was the fact that children would be very valuable around the farmstead helping with farm chores. This was especially true in the spring sewing season and the late harvest period. This lead in many cases to school only being attended in winter. If there was choice money would only be spent on educating males. However pupil's families were also required if possible to supply fuel for the schoolhouse fire. It is likely his parents would have had a very positive attitude to education though they themselves as later documentation showed could not read or write. Many people look down on this and deem it a social failing. Not so some of the most successful and efficient farmers of the era could not read write but they could count!. I suppose in 100 years time when the history of rural Ireland is being written some clever person will make statements that some farmers in rural Co. Derry were shock horror computer illiterate in 2008! The education system in rural Co. Derry was fairly good with many small semi private schools partially supported by parents but also generally well supported by the local landlords. It is known that there were three small schools in the Tirhugh area in 1837 catering for both Catholic and Protestants and generally educating them together. This was an era when the National School system was evolving.
The years after 1848 when Bernard arrived in America would pass quickly. He would finish his schooling, develop an American way of life. Doubtless he heard many sad tales coming from Ireland and see thousands more famine Irish pour into the fast expanding cities of east coast America. He would see the storm clouds of civil war gathering across America. Did he understand what was happening and the reasons?. Unlikely. The politicans and the young officers at West Point from leading elitist American families would decide who were the the "good" guys and who were the "bad" guys.
Bernard probably got employment as his father and other brothers did in the coal mines around Washingtown Township in Cambria Co. But war and patriotism or the thought of a bounty payment, sense of duty, a spur of the moment decision in the company of his brothers or buddies in his mine team or whatever seems to have steered him to joining up. This he does.
Bernard McAtamney enrolled in the Union Army as a private 28th August 1861 at Hemlock Pa. for three years and was mustered in 30th. Oct. 1861 in the 55th Regt.Co. A. Pa Vol. Infantry as a private soldier. This muster in takes place at Harrisburg Pa. He is recorded as being aged 18, had a fair complexion, blue eyes, light hair is 5ft. 8ins. in height. He had worked as as a miner in Cambria Co.
After basic training no doubt Bernard got involved in the many campaigns the regiment took part in. Sometime between late 1861 and early 1864 he had been promoted to corporal rank. He would not be promoted without his having proven his ability on the field of battle and ability to lead men so I think promotion more likely late 1862 onwards. There may be clues here in the history of the regiments engagements.
However the young man from Tirhugh would see his end aged just 21 at the battle at Drewrys Bluff Va on May 16th 1864 where he was wounded and taken prisoner by the Confederates. The 55th lost many men in this battle as many as 300 on the day. On May 18th. 1864 The Daily Dispatch of Richmond Va. in the Confederate heartland stated that.
The last of our wounded from the battlefield at Drurys Bluff were brought to this city this evening. It is roughly estimated that our wounded from this field since Butler landed at Bermuda. Casualties will reach as high as twelve or fifteen hundred. There has been no time yet to ascertain the number exactly. Last night there were still at Fort Drewry about two hundred wounded Yankees.
More than likely Bernard McAtamney would be one of these "Yankees". All we really know is that he died at Libby prison Richmond Va. May 31st 1864 some twelve days after his being wounded. In reality a dreadful and painful slow death as medical care for wounded Yankee prisoners was not a priority!. Dead prisoners were simply collected up and when enough collected their bodies were interred in Oakwood cemetery in mass graves. Few graves would be marked. After the war Federal remains were reinterred in Richmond National Cemetery. Most of the markers simply said "Unknown". Somewhere in either Oakwood or Richmond lies the mortal remains of Bernard McAtamney.
Like his two brothers Bernard never married. His name appears on panel 5 of the Ebensburg War Memorial in Cambria Co.
Hugh like his brother Bernard was born in Tirhugh Swatragh Ireland in 1840. When the war started he was a labourer.
Like Bernard he decided to enlist in the Union cause. He enrolled at Hemlock (Lilly) Pa on the
17th Sept. 1861 and was mustered in at Harrisburg Pa. the same day as his brother Bernard on the 30th Oct. 1861.
His records state that
he was aged 22 was 5ft 9ins in height, had brown eyes and a sandy complexion and been a labourer in Cambria Co.
Hugh served as a private soldier in the war but was killed at the battle of Pocotaligo S. Carolina on Oct. 22nd Oct 1862. His remains were not recovered.The 55th were attached to Shermans S. Carolina Expedition from Feb 1861 until Jan. 1864. Hugh was probably killed in combat in the marshes and swamps around Pocotaligio until they were forced to withdraw. Probably initially buried in a narrow battlefield grave then reinterred in the Beaufort National Cemetery at Beaufort S. Carolina. His name does not appear on the Union Soldiers Monument or Potter Monument. He is probably one of some 4,000 Union soldiers buried there in unmarked graves.
Hugh's name is on the Ebensburg Memorial plaque 15 as Hugh McAtamany.
In the media of the period much use was made of letter writing to the newspapers of the day. Many soldiers in the front
would appear to have no problem doing this either using their own name (not too often!!) but with nom de plumes in most
Here is one such letter.
Dear Banner—I thought some time ago of writing a letter for your columns, but being frequently subject to bad spells and knowing almost nothing about composion I conclude to leave writing with those who are better gift
We are well, jolly and contented. We have almost none sick—fewer at least than any time since we left Washington City the 10th of last October.
Our brethren of the Eight Michigan, who are connected with us in this Brigade, have not been so fortunate. In a brush battle or skirmish on Wilmington Island, a few weeks ago, in which two hundred of them met and beat back eighty hundred Georgians, they lost twelve killed and thirty five wounded….The dead were brought to Beaufort and buried the next day…..
About 11 o’clock the Brigade, headed by our brass band passed by me and formed a hollow square around a large hole,
which was to be the last resting place of the bodies of ten of our brave companions—victims in this unholy and wicked rebellion, and martyrs to the cause of liberty; Republicanism and right. O it was a solemn scene to see these mangled bodies, enclosed in the rough board coffins and laid side by side in a strange land far away from home, far away from friends. ….their graves were not wholly without tears. Nearly every eye might be seen to glisten, nearly every cheek was moistened with a falling tear when their chaplain, who had been with them in the fight, attempted to say a few words. ….three volleys of musketry were sent over their graves, and we left them to rest.
J. C. Stevenson, Co. E., Roundhead Rgt. Beaufort S.C.
Source: The Presbyterian Banner, Saturday, June 21, 1862
From THE PRESS, Thursday, October 30, 1862,
Front page headline: Important From The Army of the South.
The land and naval forces participating in the movement sailed from Hilton Head at about eleven o’clock on the night of the 21st. The following is a list of vessels and troops comprising the expedition. Transport "Ben Deford", Captain Hallett with 600 men of the 47th Pennsylvania volunteers, under Captain Good and 400 of the 55th Pennsylvania under Colonel White.
MacKay’s Point, which we reached shortly before daylight is at the confluence of the Broad and Pocatilogo rivers and has been for several months occupied by a strong picket of the enemy.
Over this road, at an early hour, the brigade of General Brannan took up its march, the artillery of Lt. Henry in advance, supported by the 47th Pennsylvania and followed by the 55th Pennsylvania, the 6th Connecticut and the 4th New Hampshire.
Early all Wednesday night was passed in bringing the wounded from the battlefield and placing them upon the transports. Surgeon Bailey of the 47th, the medical director at Beaufort accompanied the Pocotaligo expedition with Surgeon Merritt of the 55th Pa. and McClellan of the 6th Connecticut.
Company A: Killed—Sergeant Samuel Hester. Wounded—Orderly Sergeant Abraham Alstead, Sergeant Patrick Hodge, Sergeant Harry Marlett, Privates James Litzinger, James H. Wagoner, Wm. Gallagher, Hugh McAtamany.
Here are more notes on the war from an Ebensburg newspaper at the time.
The Alleghanian, Ebensburg, Pa.
Thursday, November 6. 1862
Volume 4, Number 6
Co. A, 55th Penna. Vols., in the late Battle in South Carolina---Full List of Killed, Wounded and Missing, etc. etc. [We are permitted through favor of E. F. Lytle, Esq., to take the following extracts from a private letter, giving full and interesting details concerning the participation of Co. A., 55th Penna. Vols., in the late bloody battle near Pocotaligo, South Carolina.] Beaufort, S.C., Oct. 24, 1862 After advancing with skirmishing, some five or six miles from Mackay’s Point we found a battery very advantageously posted to rake the road. The first shot was fired at three minutes after 12. Our brigade was formed in column, closed in mass, and the 47th P.V. formed in the line of battle. The shells and round shot, meanwhile, were flying in all directions, and men were falling all around us. Here Wm. Gallagher was wounded. The 47th P.V. then charged bayonets on the battery, when it fell back through the wood and crossed a swamp some 80 or 100 yards wide, over a causeway, tore up the small bridge, and coming into position on the other side, again opened on us. We closed in to the edge of the woods and lay down in a cotton field, while our battery was engaging that of the enemy. We lay for about fifteen minutes, being at the time under the fire of both the artillery and the musketry of the enemy, when we were order to advance through the woods. We did so and got out of the range of the grape and shell. Sergeant Harry Marlett, James Reilly and J. H. Wagner were wounded as we advanced through the wood. We had not yet fired a shot. We got through the woods considerably scattered, but got together again and lay down for about an hour when the enemy’s battery was silenced. They fell back some three miles to a stronger position where they had entrenchments and a marsh about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards wide and impassable only by the causeway and over the bridge. The later they had destroyed. We heard them open fire on the second line of battle when we were nearly two miles back. We came up on quick and double quick time, close after the 6th Connecticut. This regiment was ordered up on double quick, but they failed to get forward. They then came back to me—I was in the front—and ordered me forward at double quick, past the 6th Connecticut and 4th N.H., and form a line of battle with our right resting on the road. I did so and had formed our company on the right by file on the line when I was hit by a spent grape shot, causing a severe bruise on my right leg. At this time and before the regiment had time to all get on the line, one of the General’s aids came back hunting sharpshooters to pick off the cannoniers from the enemy’s battery. I told him we were ready to go anywhere we were needed, when he order us to go and engage them. We went forward along the road, the grape shot, shell and musket balls falling about us like hail but the Mountain boys never flinching, until we got into position and opened fire on the battery. At our second fire, the battery left the field, the enemy having no men to man their guns, as soon as they any showed themselves, they being shot down. At this time they were reinforced by ten thousand fresh troops, and formed a line of battle on our front, protected by rifle pits and embankments and opened fire on us with musketry. Companies B, D. E. and K were on my left and a few companies of the 76th P.V. on my right. We kept up a fire of musketry and artillery for some two hours, when our cartridges becoming exhausted, I sent for a fresh supply. None coming, we fired our last ball and then laid down under a most galling fire for some twenty minutes. By this time, it was growing dark and the firing had begun to slacken, so we fell back out of range in good order, halting twice to form parties coming up and marched off. Just was we were getting on the road, Orderly Sergeant Alstead, Sergt. Hodge and James Litzinger were wounded.
The loss in Co. A is as follows:
Killed: Sergt. Samuel Hester,
Wounded: Sergt. Alstead, right shoulder
Sergt. Hodge, left leg, flesh wound
Sergt Marlett, right arm, slightly.
Hugh M’Atamany, severely wounded in groin, missing
William Gallagher, severely
James Reilly, left side, severely
J. H. Wagner, slightly
James Litzinger, severely, right thigh, flesh wound
Col. White had considerable praise. Major Filler is brave to a fault. We had advanced about ten miles and were within one and a half miles of the railroad, but were forced to retire without accomplishing our object. We marched back to the landing and lay all night in the field. Went on board the Flora and arrived at Beaufort last night at ten o’clock and came direct to camp. So closes our first hard fight of the war.
D. W. Fox
First Lieut. Com’dg Co. A., 55th P.V.
The War in South Carolina
On our outside today we print full details of a recent battle near Pocotaligo, South Carolina, in which several Pennsylvania regiments participated and behaved with the utmost gallantry. Among these was the 55th, commanded by Col. White of this county. Company A of this regiment is composed of Cambria county men, one of whom was killed and seven wounded in the fight. A letter on this page also gives a graphic description of the fight p align=justify>
Note: Seems that Hugh, with his injuries was dying as he was moved from the battleground to the transport; he either died while in transit or immediately upon reaching Beaufort on the 22nd day of October. Burials were performed at Beaufort, so this may be where his body was initially buried, but we shall never know for sure.
Like his brothers Bernard and Hugh, Francis also decided to join the Union cause. His career would take him into three
Like them he was also Irish born in 1836.
Aged 25 he enrolled into service for three years on July 1st 1861 at Elizabeth Pa. not too far from his home area.
He was mustered in as a private on 6th July 1861
at Philadelphia. He was assigned to the 28th Regt. Pa. Infantry Co. F. operating out
On the 3rd Oct. 1861 some three months after enlisting he was ordered by Colonel Geary to be transferred to Capt. Joseph M. Knapps 28th Pa. light artillery battery. Colonel Geary was a well to do ex Mexican war veteran who had been governor of Kansas at a time. However by the outbreak of the Civil Geary had found his way back to Philadelphia where he raised both the 28th Pa Infantry and Knapps Artillery Battery. It is of interest to note that the 28th included companies from Philadelphia and eastern Pa. However Co. F the one Francis joined was in fact raised in southern Allegheny (Pittsburg area). This would be close to Francis's home area.
Actual photograph taken by Alexander Gardner, of Knap's Battery on September 20, 1862 after the battle of Antietam. Capt. Knap is mounted in the far right of the picture. From the diary of Sgt. David Nichol of Knap's Battery, "Moved in morn. We were about going off Battlefield when we were halted by an artist to take our picture. We unlimbered and came to Action Front...". Photo was taken near the Smoketown Rd. in the vicinity of the Dunker Church. Francis McAtameny would be somewhere in this picture.
From the dates on hand it would appear that Francis served in Knapps Light Art battery until the muster roll
of Sept./Oct 1862 when he is noted as being absent without leave. He had been noted as present on the muster roll
for July/August 1862 and previous musters.
Now what happened to Francis in Oct 1862?. If one looks at the history of Knapps Battery it is seen that the battle of Antietam took place on Sept 17th. and on the 20th we see from the information above that by the 20th the unit was making its way from Antietam towards Harpers Ferry. It is noted that the battery was camped at Sandy Hook Md between Sept 21st 1862 and Oct. 16th. nearly three weeks before it headed off towards Chancellorsville. It is also known that the 6th Cavalry was camped in the area at Knoxville Md fairly close to Sandy Hook Md. and Francis was legally aworn into the 6th Cavalry Co K on 27th Oct 1862 by Lieut Adj. Albert Coats of the 6th Cavalry. Also noted that Francis was enlisted for 18 months in fact the remainder of his original three year enlistment. He was noted as being 23 years of age. He was noted as being 5ft 6ins. in height with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion. His last regiment was noted as being Knapps Regt.
However his record notes that he deserted on May 13th. 1864 along with Private John McCullough from Wilmington Del. This would appear to be incorrect that he was in fact captured on this date (was McCullough also captured?). Research shows that Francis was captured in The Wilderness May 14th 1864. He was held a prisoner by the Confederates until exchanged at Florence S.C. Dec. 9th 1864. There had been a major prisoner exchange at this period. He was sent along with other prisoners to Charleston S.C. and from there to hospital in Annapolis Maryland. He recovered enough and was given a months furlough. However he did not return to the regiment and was noted as a deserter Feb. 7th. 1865.However his charge of desertion was later removed and Francis was discharged April 28th 1865 a few months before the war ended. It is known that his father Hugh in a pension application as an old man stated that he had received a letter from the War Dept. saying that his son Frank had died by gunshot wound but he did not recall where. As now the place of his death and burial are unknown or if he perhaps survived the war.
He is named as Frank McTamany on the Ebensburg War Memorial Cambrian Co. Plaque 16.
There would certainly seem to have been an affinity with the Union Army by the McAtameny family.
the three brothers mentioned above one of their sisters Sarah born
in America in 1848 married a John McQuillan at St. Aloysius
church Summit 28th April 1868. John also noted as
from Co. Derry being born there 28th April 1832 and who had emigrated to America by 1860.
John also joined the Union Army. He initially enlisted in what was then the West Va. Vol. Mounted Infantry Unit
as the 2nd Va) at Pittsburg Pa. probably on the 24th. June 1861 into Co. F. It would appear that
it maintaind its name until Jan 26th. 1864 when it became the the 5th. Regt. West Va. Cavalry. John had enlisted for
years and three months. When the unit went to Wheeling W.V. it is thought he would have been re-enlisted 28th June of same
John served until he mustered out at expiration of term at Wheeling West Va.June 30th 1864.
John was some 16 years older than Sarah. Sarah died in 1898 aged 50 while John lived until he was 92 and died a very old man in 1924. His obituary in the Daily Tribune of Johnstown Cambrian Co. on Saturday evening Feb. 9th 1924 states that he was the last of the Civil War veterans of Portage to die. John's funeral service was held at the family church of St. Aloysius (Summit) Cresson and he was buried in the family plot at the associated Catholic cemetery at Cresson. His wife Sarah had been buried there many years earlier. John and Sarah had a family of 11 children 6 boys and 5 girls. John is noted as being a small man 5ft 5 inches tall, dark complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. He had worked as a miner in the Atlantic mines in Clearfield Co. and last lived at Portage Pa.
The name McQuillan is still found around the Maghera area and I personally think that he may well have known the McAtameny family before they left Ireland. John would have been 16 in 1848 when the main McAtameny family left for America. His name does not appear in Tirhugh townland in the Tithe Applotment records but the name is noted in other local townlands. The image on the left is John's headstone at Cresson. Note the GAR marker beside his headstone. Here are some notes on the 5th. West Va. Cav. Regt.
Organized from 2nd Regiment West Virginia Mounted Infantry January 26, 1864. Attached to Martinsburg, W. Va.,
to March, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, West Virginia, to April, 1864. 3rd Brigade, Cavalry Division, West Virginia,
to June, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division, West Virginia, to July, 1865. Kelly's Command, Reserve Division,
West Virginia, to December, 1864.
SERVICE.--Duty at Martinsburg, W. Va., until March 19, 1864. Operations in Hampshire and Hardy Counties January 27-February 7. Springfield February 2. Moved to Cumberland, Md., and duty there and at Patterson's Creek until April 27. Moved to Charleston April 27-30. Crook's Expedition to Virginia & Tennessee Railroad May 2-19. Cloyd's Mountain or Farm May 9. New River Bridge May 10. Hunter's Expedition to Lynchburg May 26-July 1. Lexington June 11. Near Buchanan June 13. New London June 16. Diamond Hill June 17. Lynchburg June 17-18. Liberty June 19. Buford's Gap June 20. Catawba Mountains and about Salem June 21. At Camp Piatt, Charleston and New Creek guarding railroad in district west of Sleepy Hollow until December. Consolidated to a Battalion at Charleston September. Expedition from New Creek to Moorefield November 6-8 (Detachment). New Creek November 28. Transferred to 6th West Virginia Cavalry December 14, 1864. Regiment lost during service 3 Officers and 68 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 118 Enlisted men by disease. Total 189.
This is the chaple in which Hugh and Mary McAtamney and their Irish born children would have worshipped prior to emigrating. The church is basically unchanged from the original apart from some brick and facia work undertaken a few year back. Prior to the current chapel finished in 1842 the family probably attended the old post Penal chapel on Granaghan hill. Prior to the post Penal chapel Mass would have been celebrated on Mass rocks situated in obscure sites in the area away from the prying eyes of officers of the State. Tirhugh townland is immediately to the rear of the present St. John the Baptist church.
This is the 1911 built current church which replaced the original built 1835. Father McKenna who married Hugh McAtamney and Mary Bradley 1832/33 and who did so much for the development of both the Granaghan church and the parish as a whole is buried in the floor of the building. A memorial plaque to him is on the inside wall of the church.
Note the undulating ground still visible as soil was simply dumped over the graves or indeed over the piles of dead bodies. Note also the ancient cross taken from an old chapel in the area at Fallaleah and the famine memorial cross erected in 1995 by the local A.O.H.
This was the local church for the McAtamney family. Many of the family would be baptised married and buried from this chaple. Many would be buried in its cemetery. The photo I feel is from around the Civil War period. It resembles the old chaple in Philadelphia where so many of the 69th Pa. soldiers were buried from. (See Home Page). It was opened in 1838 but destroyed by a windstorm in 1925. Rebuilt in 1957.
Some Additional Notes and Comments:
The trials and tribulations of Hugh McAtameny and his wife Mary Bradley are worth noting. Both left Ireland with their Irish born children in 1848 looking for a better life in America. The initial years in America looked good for them. Food and shelter and employment in the early years gave them a massively better life than the grinding poverty of famine era Ireland. Several more American born children would be added to the family. They would all become American citizens. However there would be great sadness when Mary the wife of Hugh and mother of the young family died young aged 43 in Jan 1854. Hugh would be left with a young family the youngest John being about 2 years of age.
However they would survive. By the start of the Civil War in 1860 sons Bernard Hugh and Francis would be old enough to enlist. The family would have a good standard of living. However tragedy would strike again as during the Civil war all three sons would either be killed or die from fever. Son John and Father Hugh would be left as the two main breadwinners. Things would appear to have been stable for the family after the Civil War. John the youngest married in 1880. Alas tragedy struck again when he was killed in a slate quarry roof fall in Dec. 1892. All Hugh's sons were now dead but the name of McAtamney would live through his son John's children.
Hugh's daughters survived.
Margaret the oldest girl married a Patrick Powers who had emigrated from Ireland in 1853, joined the 51st Reg. Co. G at Center Point Pa. was wounded in action and discharged on surgeons certificate.
Mary Ann married a Michael McCarthy also it would appear an Irish emigrant.
Rose married an Englishman called William Mitchell who had emigrated from England 1880.
Bridget married a Henry Donaldson from Pa. She died in 1924.
Sarah as we know married John McQuillan. He outlived her and died in 1924 aged 92. Sarah died 1898 aged just 50.
Hugh the father died from old age at the home of his daughter Rose McAtameny Mitchell Dec 13th 1896 in Cresson Pa. He was aged 91. How would one begin to describe his memories of his youth in Tirhugh, from the despair of famine Ireland to fresh hope in America, to family tragedies, to the long reflective years at the end of his life thinking back to his homeland. What had happened there since he left?. Had things improved in Ireland?. Perhaps he might have had a good sense of humour and wondered if the road through Tirhugh to Maghera was greatly improved?. In this memory he would be disappointed!, but "blessed is he that expects little as he shall nor be disappointed".
To Patty Millich the gt. grandaughter of John McAtamney a brother to Bernard, Hugh and Francis and their sisters for sharing her research notes on the American history of her family. It is something special to be able to trace the path of an Irish famine emigrant family back to within a couple of hundred meters from their homestead after some 160 years. It has been my priviledge to help a little and I record my thanks.
Acknowledgements and thanks.
Information of the clerics of Maghera extracted from Bishop Daly's book "The Clergy of the Diocese of Derry"
To the clerics and good folks of the area who helped me with comments and historical information on the area.
To the gentleman who drove me in his 4 by 4 up the steep hill to the old church ruins on a very wet day in early July 2008.