The Lonergans, including two sons, made the journey in an attempt to escape the failed uprising back home, so to Vermont they travelled in 1848. Young John and perhaps his brother as well worked in the cooperage and grocery business with their father at Burlington in the early years. Then came along the Civil War. John immediately signed up in 1860 with an outfit that just started up and called itself the Emmett's Guard after a famed fellow from back in Ireland. It was a 9 month regiment, like so many that started early in the war. All felt the war would only last a short time and so more than 90 days might not have been needed. So they thought!
The company was mostly Irishmen who had worked in the quarries. There were also a few dozen non Irish and perhaps as many French Canadians. John being so popular he was soon elected the captain of the company, and that very company would become the first, and thus A Company of what would later be renamed the 13th Vermont Infantry. (A net listing has 375 names of Canadians in Vermont regiments during the Civil War)
John would serve with the 13th from Oct of 1862 to mid July of 1863. It would be at Gettysburg in early July that he would earn his keep and become famous. It was said that the Irish were always cantankerous ..in uniform or out.. and thus perhaps his speech before the battle included the line that... "Boys, you have been quite anxious for a fight ever since you enlisted, now you have a chance to fight and show what kind of stuff you are made of."
And so they did!
In command of only 63 men at the time, he was tasked to go forth and recaptured two artillery guns that a Unit of the Regular Army had lost in battle. They not only recaptured these two but took two more from the enemy. Enroute back to friendly lines they came under so much heavy fire from a house that they dropped the heavy artillery pieces and surrounded the house and Lonergan then gave his famous words to surrender. The sharpshooter officer and 83 men came out with their hands up. Lonergan had less men in his own commend and ended up coming back to friendly lines with not two or four but now SIX artillery guns, an enemy officer and 83 prisoners of war to boot.
As if that wasn't enough, the next day his unit and two other Vermont units played a crucial role in turning back the famous advance that would become known as Pickett's Charge. A charge led buy the very General who shortly after the war sought refuge in Montreal Canada.
John Lonergan finished the war and kept close ties with the Irish community. So close that he became heavily involved in the Fenian movements of the day.
Later he was employed in the customs business in Vermont and ultimately appointed as an agent working out of Montreal, probably at the railway station there. He would remain in Canada for the next 16 years, Most of these with customs till health forced him to resign.
He would raise five children in Canada. In the early 1890's he applied for the Medal of Honor whilst at Montreal and later was so awarded and the medal forwarded to him in Canada. His was the only MOH for the 13th Vermont. But a total of 63 would eventually be issued for the Gettysburg battle.
One of his sons would become a literary editor with the Montreal Gazette pre the 1950's.
Upon his death at Montreal in 1902 his body was shipped back to the US for burial in his hometown of Burlington Vermont. It is believed that two swords, a canteen and possibly even his MOH may still be in Canada with family.
Many miles west of Montreal, and near to Calgary lies the remains of another Gettysburg soldier. His name was Barnett and he was born in 1842 in Vermont. He served with the 11th Virginia Infantry and at death in 1933 he was said to have been the last survivor of the Pickett's Charge. He was on a 3 week visit to Canada when he had a heart attack.
And travelling even farther west to Victoria BC, a few years back the MOH for Sgt George Roosevelt, a relative of the Presidents, was in a coin shop and being offered for sale. It was bought and travelled back to Ontario where an unscrupulous fellow tried to sell it on the internet in the US where such sales were and still are illegal. He was caught in a sting by about 14 different agencies including the FBI and was sent to jail. The medal was recovered and not long ago it was turned over to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for display. It was awarded for actions at Bulls Run and Gettysburg.