How the Irish Won the American Revolution: A New Look at the Forgotten Heroes of America’s War of Independence

How the Irish Won the American Revolution: A New Look at the Forgotten Heroes of America’s War of Independence

Language: English

Pages: 408

ISBN: 1634503813

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

When the Continental Congress decided to declare independence from the British empire in 1776, ten percent of the population of their fledgling country were from Ireland. By 1790, close to 500,000 Irish citizens had immigrated to America. They were was very active in the American Revolution, both on the battlefields and off, and yet their stories are not well known. The important contributions of the Irish on military, political, and economic levels have been long overlooked and ignored by generations of historians. However, new evidence has revealed that Washington’s Continental Army consisted of a far larger percentage of Irish soldiers than previously thought—between 40 and 50 percent—who fought during some of the most important battles of the American Revolution.

Romanticized versions of this historical period tend to focus on the upper class figures that had the biggest roles in America’s struggle for liberty. But these adaptations neglect the impact of European and Irish ideals as well as citizens on the formation of the revolution. Irish contributors such as John Barry, the colonies’ foremost naval officer; Henry Knox, an artillery officer and future Secretary of War; Richard Montgomery, America’s first war hero and martyr; and Charles Thomson, a radical organizer and Secretary to the Continental Congress were all instrumental in carrying out the vision for a free country. Without their timely and disproportionate assistance, America almost certainly would have lost the desperate fight for its existence.

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Kanawha Rivers. Colonel Andrew Lewis, born in County Donegal, Ulster Province, Northern Ireland in 1720, led more than one thousand of his Virginians, consisting mostly of Scotch-Irish, primarily from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, “upland” militiamen from Botetourt, Augusta, and Fincastle Counties, to a decisive victory in the balmy weather of early autumn. With ample experience from when he commanded a heavily Scotch-Irish company that represented Augusta County, Virginia, during the French

their horses when his isolated army was situated so deep in hostile country. Barely half a dozen dragoons survived the disastrous battle to rejoin Burgoyne, who had lost his intelligence-gathering “eyes and ears” at Bennington. The development boded ill for the eventual outcome of the British invasion. Stark’s losses among his mostly Scotch-Irish boys at Bennington were relatively light by comparison. Only a red sunset over the hardwood forests lining the western ridges saved the survivors of the

that was well deserved. Besides possessing an abundant amount of arrogance that he failed to conceal, Conway was also high-strung, quarrelsome, and sarcastic and was known for emotional outbursts. He also possessed a legendary temper and an in-your-face confrontational style, even when dealing with Washington. But while Washington succeeded in taming his temper under a refined gentleman’s proper guise, Conway proved a flat failure in this regard. During one incident when he took personal offense

considerable expense, Charles had then chartered a sailing vessel that carried his friends, neighbors, and family members, including his wife Elizabeth, who also hailed from Longford, Ireland, and three children, to America. The ship had departed the wharf at Dublin on May 20, 1729, embarking upon the lengthy journey of more than three thousand miles across the Atlantic to Philadelphia. But the dictatorial captain, who already had been paid and garnered a handsome profit, was abusive toward his

to what made the Sons of Erin such die-hard patriots: “As to the genuine sons of Hibernia, it is enough for them to know that England was the antagonist [and in] the contest with Englishmen, Irishmen [who] only require reining in” of their enthusiasm to fight the British.51 Not surprisingly from an early date, therefore, “the interior North Carolina [and South Carolina] militias were almost wholly Presbyterian,” consisting of mostly Ulster Irish, or “commoners,” who had long naturally opposed

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