The Sixty-Ninth Regiment in conjunction with other interested parties is planning to celebrate the 150 anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg in 2012. The idea of commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle was initially proposed by Councillor Jim Finucane of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland who believes the actions of the 69th in the US Civil War, particularly at Fredericksburg, very favorably influenced the image of Irish America at the time. Councillor Finucane has offered to lend his support to organizing Irish involvement.
Hughie McGrath the Town Mayor ofNenagh, Tipperary in Ireland will also participate in the planning. Timothy Donoghue, who was born in Nenagh emigrated to the US in 1862 and joined the 69th Regiment, NewYork State Volunteers. Timothy was awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) forcarrying a wounded officer to safety at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13 1862. He was severely wounded himself while performing this actionand was later discharged from the army at the rank of sergeant.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself inconspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States.
Timothy’s older brother Patrick Donoghue (1820-1876) was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry he displayed while fighting with the British Army in India in 1857. The Victoria Cross (VC) is a military decoration awarded for valour ‘in the face of the enemy’ to members of armed forces.
Patrick Donoghue married Mary Anne Glasscot in Bombay, and became stepfather to Anna Leonowens, who tutored the wives and children of the King of Siam, and whose experiences were fictionalised in the 1951 hit musical The King & I.He was also a great-grandfather of William Henry Pratt, better known by his stage name Boris Karloff and for portraying the monster in the 1931 film Frankenstein.
It is amazing that an Irish family from a small town in Tipperary has been awarded the highest medals for bravery in the face of the enemy by both England and the United States. Both were awarded their medals for carrying a wounded officer from the field.
Nenagh is planning to honour the memory of two brothers (possibly in 2012) who received the highest honors for bravery bestowed by both the British and US military. The Guardian a local newspaper in Nenagh recently ran an article written by Simon O’Duffy about the two brothers.
1862 was a fateful year for the 69th Regiment. They participated in the Peninsula Campaign fighting at Seven Pines, Fair Oaks, Gaines Mill, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill. In September they suffered severe casualties attacking at Bloody Lane in Sharpsburg Maryland during the Battle of Antietam. By then the 69th Regiment only had about 320 soldiers of the 1,000 who had enlisted twelve months earlier. The regiment suffered over one hundred dead and wounded during that Battle. In December the remaining troops found themselves at Fredericksburg, Virginia. The following is the after action report written on December 22, 1862 by Captain James Saunders: “In compliance with general orders received December 21, I hereby certify that the Sixty-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers entered the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, commanded by Col. Robert Nugent, and 18 commissioned officers and 210 rank and file, in which the above numbered regiment lost 16 commissioned officers and 160 rank and file, leaving Capt. James Saunders, Lieutenant Milliken, and Lieut. L. Brennan to bring the remnant of the regiment off the battle-field”.