Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Leader Of The Irish

One of the leaders of the Union Irish Brigade, Colonel Patrick Kelly was killed June 14th 1864 while at the head of his men at the Siege of Petersburg.

Patrick Kelly was born about 1822 in Castlehacket, County Galway, Ireland.  He immigrated with his wife Elizabeth to New York City.

When the Civil War started Kelly enlisted, and was made a Captain in the 69th New York Infantry.  He saw his first action at the First Battle of Bull Run.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the 88th New York Infantry on September 14th 1861, and had command of the regiment during the Battle of Antietam.  Kelly received his promotion to Colonel on October 20th 1862.  He led the regiment in its failed frontal attack of Marye’s Heights at the Battle of Fredericksburg.  Following the Battle of Chancellorsville, the commander of the Irish Brigade Union Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher resigned and Kelly was placed in command of the brigade.  The Irish Brigade with Kelly saw heavy fighting in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, losing 37% of the Brigade.  As the Union Army was reorganized more senior officers returned and Kelly went back to leading his regiment.  At the Battle of Cold Harbor, with the death of Union Colonel Richard Byrnes in June 1864, Kelly was placed back in command of the Irish Brigade.

 Kelly was leading the Irish Brigade on June 14th 1864 during the Siege of Petersburg.  They were moving on some Confederate earthworks when he was shot in the head and killed.  His body was taken back to New York City, where Kelly is buried in the First Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, New York.

For more information about Patrick Kelly check out the web site News from the Irish Brigade Asscciation


Brett S. said...


Patrick Keely was actually killed on June 16, 1864, not June 14, as the Wikipedia article incorrectly claims. No Union troops were in front of the eastern approaches to Petersburg until June 15, and the Union Second Corps did not launch any attacks until June 16, the day Kelly died.

See my Siege of Petersburg site on the Irish Brigade at the Second Battle of Petersburg for sources:

LivingInVermont said...

Brett thanks for the correction. I thought the date was wrong also, but I found it in several places. Will look closely at your web site.