"Major Horgan Dead" - 88th New York Infantry Regiment
December 26, 1886
Transcribed And Donated By Victor Olney.
Note: Patrick K. Horgan age 27 years. Enrolled on September 10, 1861, at New York City, to serve three years. Mustered in as captain, Company D, on October 26, 1861. He was accidentally wounded on July 1, 1862, at Malvern Hill, Virginia. Wounded in action on December 13, 1862, at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Discharged for disability on March 5, 1863. Commissioned captain on December 31, 1861, with rank from October 26, 1861; original (officer at this position).
A Well Known Irish-American Patriot Expires in San Francisco
News was received in this city on Friday evening of the death of Major Patrick K. Horgan in San Francisco. Major Horgan went to California one month ago accompanied by his eldest son Arthur for the benefit of his fast failing health. But his vigorous system, worn out by the severe service that had been imposed upon it in the campaigns of the late civil war and in the active conduct of a successful business in this city and in New York, gave way and in a few short weeks death from general debility ensued.
Major Horgan was born in the County of Cork, Ireland, in 1835, and came to this country when a young man. At the breaking out of the war he joined the Eighty-eighth Regiment of New York Volunteers (Meagher's Irish Brigade), entering with the rank of captain. He rose to the rank of major. When the war was over he took up the business of plumbing in South Brooklyn, doing business for several years on Union Street. In 1870 he became mason and contractor in the Seventeenth Ward, New York, but was two years ago forced to relinquish the business owing to his weak health. He was a school trustee in the Seventeenth Ward, New York, and captain of Company C, Sixty-ninth Regiment. Major Horgan had always been an active worker in behalf of oppressed Ireland, and while in business in Brooklyn was somewhat prominent in the Democratic politics of his ward.
In religion he was a devout Catholic, attending St. Stephen's Church in Brooklyn. He was a man of magnificent physique, over six feet in height and well proportioned, with very dark complexion and eyes and ruddy cheeks. He leaves a wife and six children, including four grown sons and a younger son and daughter. Arrangements for the interment have not yet been decided upon.
Brooklyn Eagle January 3, 1887
Funeral of Major Horgan
The Body to be Brought to This City Tomorrow
The survivors of the Irish Brigade met yesterday afternoon in the Sixty-ninth Regiment Armory, New York, and passed resolutions expressive of regret at the recent death in San Francisco of Major P. K. Horgan and of condolence with the deceased's family. The body is expected to arrive in this city tomorrow morning and the funeral will take place the following day, from the late residence of the deceased, 136 Summit street. A committee was appointed to attend the funeral.
Major Patrick K. Horgan, 51 years old, is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, NY. Interment was on January 5, 1887, in Section 4, Range 5, Plot V, Graves 5/8. There are 7 burials in this grave holding.
Captain P. K. Horgan, a brave soldier, was with the regiment up to Fredericksburg, when he resigned. Conyngham, page 563.
A Devoted Son Of America and Ireland
Major Patrick Keeffe Horgan
Ireland, stubborn and unconquered, if we cannot hail you as a nation we at least, thank heaven, may hail you as the shrine of chivalry. A time there was in the history of our efforts to break the cords of oppression that unwillingly bind Thule to the stranger's "croup," when the ruthless despoiler misinterpreted our valor to the world and scoffed at our heroism. The artificial famine of '47 and '48, and the wholesale evictions and extermination that followed, redounded more to our national honor than an accession of colleges. It gave us soldiers whose chivalry emblazon the records of other lands to-day.
Among the many, it gave us a Meagher, a Smyth, a Bourke, a Kavanagh, a Byron, and last, but not least, a HORGAN. The inhumanity of the British government, while our people were dying by the thousand, aroused the martial spirit of the race within them, which, in after years, saved the name and fair fame of this great Republic.
Patrick Keeffe Horgan was born, May 7th, 1835, at Ballywater, parish of Doneraile, County Cork, Ireland. While yet only twelve years of age he had infused into him and uncompromising hatred of England.
Famine, one of the tyrant's most powerful allies, had struck the entire land like a cyclone. So terrible, so unmerciful, so unrelenting was this awful scourge that language at this late day would be inadequate to even feebly portray it.
The sad picture of national desolation was indelibly traced upon the youthful memory of P. K. Horgan, who had not as yet fully realized the true source of this periodical calamity. Many a time during those agonizing years he sat down and wept over the sad scenes of want, despair, and death which laid waste the beautiful valleys of his beloved Cork. His recollection of those painful and stirring times was indeed vivid, and in a great measure molded him into a man of war.
The spirit of patriotism, hushed to slumber with the decapitated form of young Emmett, from amid the prevailing ruin of '48 was being resuscitated by the lamented Mitchell, Meagher, Smith O'Brien, and others, who conceived the idea that it was far better to die fighting, than perish foodless and homeless on the highway in sight of plenty. The doctrine of physical force which they promulgated set young Horgan thinking, and made him at this early stage of his existence an unremitting rebel. As the famine progressed the limited industries of the country became paralyzed, and, as though to hurry the victims from their wretchedness, the plague dogged the footsteps of distress in its unchecked march.
Those who had clung to the little "gatherings" of years, inspired by a new hope from the young Ireland movement that heaven would arrest the ravages of want at an early day, loath to seek refuge in exile, were at length being driven into the roadside by the brutal arm of the law, forced with aching hearts to seek the cheerless and venturesome protection of the emigrant ship.
Among those cast out from their holdings were the Horgan family.
To those who have experienced the ordeal of eviction and banishment, the nature of this terrible weapon of the usurper is obvious, while to the average American, familiar with the "annual movings," so common in the cities and towns of the Republic, such an edict conveys no touching significance.
But the "rooting out" of Irish "peasant" from the homeland of his sires, the land of his childhood, chills the patriot's marrow. For generations it has been the cradle of his name, and it is sanctified in his memory by endearing associations.
Banishment from home and homeland by unrelenting despotism may, indeed, be sometimes appeased by future rewards in the new land, but P. K. Horgan, in the midst of honorably, industriously acquired domestic comfort and ease, never, not for an instant, forgot the shrine of his nativity. Time and distance obscured the fair hills of holy Ireland from his view, but his large, generous heart lingered o'er them in defiance of every other earthly tie; and his detestation for England was equally as intense.
Driven from their hearthstone by the cruel arm of misrule, the widow Horgan and her young family, Patrick and three sisters, one of whom he was visiting in California at the time of his death, sought the cold refuge of the emigrant ship; and after a tedious, weary journey across the Atlantic, arrived in New York City in the early part of 1850. Their means being somewhat limited, many were the vicissitudes encountered for a time by the exiles. But perseverance and industry were eventually rewarded. Patrick, after learning the building trade, became the chief support and solace of the new home, accepting the responsibility with the devotion of a worthy son.
As he mixed in society, and pondered over the attempt and failure of the "young Irelanders," he became more enlightened in the history of the alien domination; and in proportion as his knowledge of the situation advanced, so also did his abhorrence of tyranny permanently increase. The mere mention of England made his very soul shudder with vengeance, and tempted him to the threshold of profanity.
The past, reeking and crimson with blood and tears, erased from his mind the idea of compromise. Ireland a nation, free and independent, was the aspiration of his life. And when Thomas Francis Meagher, of the sword and silver tongue, called for arms to protect the union and constitution of these United States against treason, Patrick K. Horgan, overflowing with gratitude to his adopted land, and scorning everything savoring of serfdom, was among the first batch of volunteers. Meagher he almost worshipped for his sacrifice, eloquence, courage, and the patriotic story of his life.
On December 31, 1861, P.K. Horgan organized Company D Eighty- eighth New York Volunteers, of which he was unanimously elected captain. This regiment, afterwards, with the Sixty-third and Sixty-ninth formed what history now records as Meagher's Irish Brigade. The service rendered by this faithful legion of exterminated Celts needs no comment or commendation at my hands:
their valor is too fresh in our memory to call for any extended remarks here, save in keeping in sight the subject of my sketch.
The departure of P. K. Horgan to the scene of conflict, in the prime of his manhood, was the occasion of much affliction to his family, whose protector he was. But if companionship in sorrow, as in misfortune, could afford possible consolation, the widow Horgan's tears were plentifully shared in by thousands of mothers, wives, and sisters of her race. His grief, however, was moderated by the consciousness of being enabled, by honest toil and frugality, to place his mourning family beyond the possibility of want until his return, if return he should. It is, therefore, apparent that other and higher motives than "bounty" considerations prompted "our young recruit."
Fidelity to America and horror of slavery were his silent monitors; and for these principles he resolved to dare the soldier's weary lot.
Consequently he dashed aside the tear which nature wrung from his big heart, and with buoyant step he followed the idol of his life, Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher, to the tented field.
Of the journey to the front Capt. Horgan was wont to tell many interesting anecdotes, which to the general ear lost their native humor, for the captain was, indeed, a poor storyteller. He was too serious, too much in earnest, to cultivate the light and indifferent side-issues of life. The good nature and ease of his command under disappointment, tribulation, and danger were at all times themes upon which he loved to dwell. Being and officer he was brought into constant communication with Meagher, whom he admired more than any other living man, and who, he dreamed, one day would be the modern Moses to lead his countrymen from bondage. I might here remark that after many a hard-fought battle, when night had wrapped its charitable shroud around the ghastly prospect of carnage, the probability of applying their military experience in the solution of the Irish problem, was the prevailing topic around the campfire by officers and men; and, stimulated by the bright pictures of future hope for the old land,---painted during those few hours of dreary calm and troubled rest, when the reveille, followed by the rattle of musketry from the enemy's lines announced a renewal of the slaughter,--with encouraged readiness and determination the brigade was in alignment.
-----I have deleted some text here.---- Captain Horgan received his baptism of blood at Savage's Station, June 28, 1862 (what about Fair Oaks?). This engagement was a severe installation, but it was accepted with pluck and endurance by the recruits, for it must be remembered it was, to use a common phrase, the first time in their lives when they "smelled powder." The bravery of Horgan upon this occasion bordered upon the toes of recklessness.
His men had unbroken confidence in him, and his unexcelled heroism gave courage to individual timidity. Where the sword of Meagher pointed there was promptly found that of Horgan at the head of his command. The more havoc perpetrated by hostile shell the more courageous and heedless of death, which thickly and momentarily surrounded him, he became, until finally, weakened from loss of blood, which freely flowed from a bullet wound in the foot, he sank in front of the enemy's guns. By friendly hands he was borne to a place of safety in the rear and placed in charge of the good sisters, who tenderly administered to the needs of the wounded. After the necessary rest and convalescence, we again find him, sword in hand, facing the rebels at Antietam, where the saucy, dashing little Tipperary man, Col. James Kavanagh, now of the Sixty-ninth New York National Guard, nobly distinguished himself.
This engagement was more serious and fatal to Horgan's command, and, indeed, to the entire brigade, than their first or others intervening. The havoc was terrible. Human muscle was too feeble to withstand the awful and increasing shower of leaden hail and bayonets to which they were exposed, for it is recorded that here, on more than one occasion, the contestants were so close to each other that cold steel was brought into requisition. It was in this engagement that the gallant officer, Gen. Richardson, received the fatal bullet, from the effects of which he expired in the heat of the struggle.
Horgan's company sustained fearful loss. In the many minor encounters preceding the bold and brilliant (reckless it may have been) charge at Mary's Heights, Horgan took no mean part.
It is not for me, in following up the services of my deceased friend in the brigade, to criticize the sanity, or question the intelligence, or integrity which prompted Burnside's desperate assault upon the inaccessible fortifications of Fredericksburg. The delicacy of that task remains for the keen pen of the military critic.
Prior to the fatal charge, which erased the campfire pictures of a regenerated Ireland, every member of the brigade wore an evergreen sprig; and the moment the bugle sounded the dreadful advance, silent resolve stifled the tide of native wit and mirth. The Irish flag, which on previous occasions heralded death to the rebels, once more was unfurled in its verdant beauty, and Meagher, God's noblest handiwork, with sword extended to high heaven, followed by the brigade, moved upon the formidable bulwark of the enemy. Up, up the dizzy Height, to sink or float, soared the banner of the Gael, while the breastworks above seemed a belt of molten flame. Every step gained was consecrated by torrents of human gore. Still, ever responsive to duty's call upward pressed the exiles, unmindful of the results. In vain, brave hearts, you toil, and tempt the gaping jaws of death. Your valor is indeed. worthier of more equal odds, and more favorable effort; but the Sunburst, tattered and scorched, still bids you ascend, until, at length further progress of the surviving few is choked by the mutilated bodies of their comrades.
The chivalrous martyrdom of this ill-matched combat called forth the admiration of even the Confederate officers, and won a testimonial in history to Irish courage, seconded only by the famous "Charge of the Light Brigade."
Among the fallen and perishing victims of the painful assault was found the prostrate form of Patrick K. Horgan, who had been severely wounded in the hip. Of his company only two survived to join in Victory's Thanksgiving. In remuneration for his heroic conduct during the campaign he was mustered out of the service as major, which title ever afterwards he was accorded by his numerous friends. After requisite rest and medical attention, not borne away by the merited greetings and flattery of a grateful nation, Major Horgan resumed business with even more favorable results than before the war.
Shortly afterwards he got married and he now leaves to mourn his loss a wife, one daughter, and five sons, two of whom succeed their father in business.
The seedlings of national independence planted by the young Irelanders in '48 began to peep over the surface of misrule in 1863, when the Phenix Society, organized in the heart of rebel Cork by O'Donovan Rossa, and a few sanguine companions, sprang into existence.
These few pioneers of the national movement of to-day had attracted the attention of James Stevens, John O'Mahoney, and others in America, who had thought of infusing new life into the dissected corpse which the now Hon. Gavan Duffy left in the hands of quacks, and an alliance with the chosen few, who were then disturbing the peace of the throne, was promptly brought about.
O'Donovan Rossa, who had already suffered for his unsubdued opposition to "Royalty." was the medium through whom the promising union was contracted, he having visited America for that purpose. The I. R. B. spread like a prairie fire throughout the length and breadth of the Republic, extending even beyond the line into the loyal borders of Canada.
This new, aggressive movement rekindled the old fire in the breast of Major Horgan. The anticipation of a fight with England brought him forth from apparent obscurity, and his sword was ever ready, did occasion summon it, to rescue the old land. But once more his hopes were foundered; the movement, so favorably inaugurated, terminated in disaster through individual jealousy, deceit, and finally, treason.
Its leaders at home were seized and flung into prison, and the faction- mongers on this side of the water sank back into the nothingness whence they sprung, before universal disfavor and merited reproach.
Still, not discouraged over the temporary demise of this great organization which alarmed the British Government, Horgan entertained his first and earliest ideas of a physical solution of the Irish question up to the moment of his death. Adhering to those principles, and still clinging to the possibility of hostilities, he enlisted in the Sixty-ninth Regiment, and on December 2, 1878, was elected captain of Company C. While reserved, and generally speaking, non-communicative, unless in social communion, he had the respect of all who had the honor of his acquaintance. Few men had less enemies; and when abuse and censure strove to suppress the extreme views of the few which he shared, none had the daring to breathe a word of reflection against him.
The present agitation he held aloof from, because he did not believe it would result in any practical benefit to Ireland.
Some five years ago, when O'Donovan Rossa's few venturesome Missionaries were being hunted down, and tempting rewards for their capture scattered over the British dominions, Major Horgan having been approached, and upon learning of their helpless situation on the Continent through lack of means, he lifted a heavy weight from Rossa's brave heart by volunteering financial aid.
Perceiving the terror struck into the old foe by the daring exploits of these few men, he went body and soul into the programme laid down by the Society of United Irishmen, adopting the doctrine of the Young Irelanders: "Better to die fighting than perish on the highway in sight of plenty."
In the recent dynamite disturbances in England, which, in his own words, forced the necessity upon Mr. Gladstone of immediate remedial measures for Ireland, Major Horgan's assistance, by voice and purse, was never wanting.
Upon a certain occasion, in Company C's room, Sixty-ninth Regiment, the major, after listening to a brief history of the helplessness and appalling distress of the Irish people, which drew from him a graphical sketch of the scenes of 1848, with a flush of earnestness which light up his manly face, he closed the subject on hand in the following words:-- "Rather than defer the possibility of Ireland's deliverance for another, or succeeding generations, while the government in the so-called name of law are scientifically killing our people by an evident, well- organized method of periodical famine, I am in favor of the readiest, and most effective means, no matter how diabolical hypocrites may choose to dub it, to force the English garrison out of Ireland. By steel and rope and poison she has been seized and held, and, if it must be, by the selfsame instrument every link of slavery shall be unfastened. The policy which you brave fellows have adopted has my hearty support." Subsequent events showed the sincerity of his words.
When the tragedy in the Phenix Park, Dublin, sent a thrill through the breasts of continental dynasties, and awoke the disapprobation of many earnest Irishmen, Horgan was not afraid of public opinion to express his accord with the act. When a mass meeting was convened at the Cooper Institute, presided over by the mayor of New York, to condole with the terrified England, Major Patrick K. Horgan arose in his place among the audience to express his dissent, and upon being invited to a place on the platform he graciously accepted. He was not afraid, impolitic though it may have been, to meet the sea of surging faces that regarded him at first with indignation. He who had faced the hell-like walls of Fredericksburg, did not flinch from performing the duty imposed upon him; and in unison with his feelings. After a brief and dispassionate condemnation of New York's flunky mayor, and the object of the meeting, he read a set of resolutions which divided the audience, and frustrated the purport of its mission. "England," said he, "has brought this upon her own shoulders. Atonement for the crimes of centuries has not been rendered; and when heaven in its own good time sees fit, even in this mild form, to appease the vengeance invoked by the stream of martyrs' gore which crimsons every page of Irish history, then, I say, let England do her own felon setting." These words were rendered inaudible by the burst of applause, in which were mingled a few hisses, which shook the building, and drove the promoters of the gathering in disorder from the platform.
Though many of your readers may not endorse the extreme motive- power of the departed soldier, whose figure precedes this humble tribute, I trust they will, however, generously accord him the attributes of sincerity.
In local politics he took little if any interest, and yet in 1874 he was appointed School Trustee, which office he held for eleven years, during which period he was three times elected chairman of that body. On January 30, 1883, he was honorably discharged from the Sixty-ninth Regiment.
For a number of years, until January 11, 1882, when he honorably retired, he was a member of the General Shield's Post, G. A. R., over which he was three times elected commander.
His health having been failing for some time, he decided on a trip to California to see his sister, Mrs. Hannah Connell, whom he had not met in thirty years, in the hope that change of air would build him up; but, alas, death pursued him, and would not now be robbed of its victim. Too often in front of danger he escaped its icy clutch, and evaded it until now, when we can least of all spare him.
At the time of his death he was accompanied by one of his sons, a fine, manly-looking fellow, in whom, with his brothers, let us hope, is transmitted the national spirit of their departed father.