And to start it all of was the story of Doctor Bernard JD Irwin whom has also been covered in earlier blogs. His 1861 deed was the first ever awarded by date of action, and an Irishman he was.
Captain John Lonergan, pictured above and yet another Irishman, came to the US in 1848 to escape the Great Famine and also British rule of his homeland. His father would take him under wing in the new country..in Vermont.. as a cooper in the making of barrels. The same occupation Allan Pinkerton took up on arrival to the US. It would be in that work that he would stumble onto events that raised his curiousity and soon led him in a venture that saw him creating letterhead with the picture of a lone eye. His eye. His private eye that was for rent in helping his customers solve crimes. An occupation that would bring him fame..and onto the CW battlefields as the founder of what would one day beome the CIA.
John was very proud of his native upbringing and like many, quite opposed to the British rule he was under. He was probably involved in Fenian activities before the Civil War and actually started up a company of Irishmen to fight in the war. He wanted some military experience that he could use to battle his goal of having the British rule overturned back home. His company was mostly Irish but he also had a handful of Americans and Canadians in the unit.
Not long after formation his men would take part if a forced seven day March to Gettysburg and would arrive partway through the first day's horrendous slaughter. It would not be long before he volunteered to take action when one of the Union batteries of heavy guns were being hauled off the battlefield by the enemy. He roared in and saved 4 guns and another 2. But then he came under heavy fire from the Codori farm house and so his men surrounded the house and covered all exits and demanded that all the Confederates had to immediately surrender by FALLING OUT and turn their weapons over to the company of men. An officer then came out and turned over his sword ... then other officers followed and then the men... 83 in total. About twice the men he had in his own command.
Later that day he was scoulded by his commanders. They argued that he did not follow the rules. After all, when forming a group of men is called for... the command was to FALL IN... not FALL OUT. His response was...But sir, the men were already in. I needed them to fall out ...and all chuckled.
Now... 150 years after that very reception, the townsfolk in Burlington Vt. again have reminded the world of their appreciation of John Lonergan and his men by hosting a reception an unveiling of this plaque on the property of Burlington City Hall.
Both Lonergan and Irwin spent the last years of their lives in Canada and died here, and both were repatriated back to the US for burial. Irwin died at Cobourg Ontario were he had a summer home for many years. Lonergan died at Montreal Quebec after serving for about 16 years with the US Customs Office as an inspector on the Grand Trunk Railway line.
Lonergan also was a leader in the Fenian movement and played a role in both attacks against Canada after the Civil War. He was twice rebuffed but ending up coming to Canada to work instead of capturing the Colony as a means of pressuring England to end its rule of Ireland.
On another matter, there is more news on several fronts, and I will bring you some of these on Friday,