JFK got it wrong about The Irish Brigade. The Father of the US Navy John Barry. Irish VC Winner at Today in Irish History

September 13: TODAY in Irish History:


Today in Irish History: Curated by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks

Chicago Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.


September 13: TODAY in Irish History:


The Father of the US Navy – John Barry

1803: John Barry, credited as “The Founder of the American Navy” dies. Barry was born in Tacumshane, Co Wexford March 25, 1745 to a poor tenant farming family who were at one stage evicted for inablity to pay rent. (A not uncommon occurrence in those days.) At about age 15, he emigrated to the United States.


Commodore John Barry wexford born

Wexford born Commodore John Barry


Barry was an exceptional sailor and military tactician. Over his 17 year service in the Navy, he was involved in numerous battles with English forces both on land and sea. In 1794 he was appointed the senior Captain of the newly established United States Navy.

READ: Biography of Commodore John Barry


1833: James Quinlan – Medal of Honor Winner

Medal of Honor winner James Quinlan from County Tipperary

Medal of Honor winner James Quinlan from County Tipperary

James J. Quinlan (September 13, 1833 – August 29, 1906) was a Union Army officer during the American Civil War and a recipient of America’s highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions at the Battle of Savage’s Station. His citations states he “led his regiment on the enemy’s battery, silenced the guns, held the position against overwhelming numbers, and covered the retreat of the Second Army Corps.”


The Date John F Kennedy Got Wrong.

1862: This is an incident that DID NOT happen today in Irish history although JFK when speaking to Dail Eireann, June 28 1963 about the Irish Brigade might have led you to believe otherwise.

The dates Kennedy should have referenced re The Irish Brigade at the slaughter of Fredericksburg should have been the 13th day of December and not 13th September. He also got his geography mixed up. Fredericksburg where the battle took place is in Virginia and not Maryland!!

A surprising goof by his masterful speech writer Ted Sorensen. To be fair, Kennedy had just given his famous Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech at Berlin which probably consumed more of his and Sorensen’s thinking than a relatively light-hearted, inspirational address to the Irish parliament.

“The 13th day of September, 1862, will be a day long remembered in American history. At Fredericksburg, Maryland, thousands of men fought and died on one of the bloodiest battlefields of the American Civil War. One of the most brilliant stories of that day was written by a band of 1200 men who went into battle wearing a green sprig in their hats. They bore a proud heritage and a special courage, given to those who had long fought for the cause of freedom. I am referring, of course, to the Irish Brigade. General Robert E. Lee, the great military leader of the Southern Confederate Forces, said of this group of men after the battle, “The gallant stand which this bold brigade made on the heights of Fredericksburg is well known. Never were men so brave. They ennobled their race by their splendid gallantry on that desperate occasion. Their brilliant though hopeless assaults on our lines excited the hearty applause of our officers and soldiers.”

Of the 1200 men who took part in that assault, 280 survived the battle. The Irish Brigade was led into battle on that occasion by Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Meagher, who had participated in the unsuccessful Irish uprising of 1848, was captured by the British and sent in a prison ship to Australia from whence he finally came to America. In the fall of 1862, after serving with distinction and gallantry in some of the toughest fighting of this most bloody struggle, the Irish Brigade was presented with a new set of flags. In the city ceremony, the city chamberlain gave them the motto, “The Union, our Country, and Ireland forever.” Their old ones having been torn to shreds in previous battles, Capt. Richard McGee took possession of these flags on December 2d in New York City and arrived with them at the Battle of Fredericksburg and carried them in the battle. Today, in recognition of what these gallant Irishmen and what millions of other Irish have done for my country, and through the generosity of the “Fighting 69th,” I would like to present one of these flags to the people of Ireland.”


Roger Casement

1914: Roger Casement met in Washington DC with Franz von Papen, the German military attaché to secure German support to overthrow British rule in Ireland. As The 1916 Rising was unfolding Casement was captured by English troops in Ireland. He was later executed for high treason.


Sir Roger Casement

Roger Casement after his conviction



Irish Victoria Cross Winner

1917: Twenty-two year old John Moyney from Rathdowney Co. Laois is involved in an action that wins him the Victoria Cross. His citation reads:

“On 13 September 1917 north of Broembeek, Belgium, Lance-Sergeant Moyney was in command of 15 men forming two advanced posts. Surrounded by the enemy he held his post for 96 hours, having no water and very little food. On the fifth day, on the enemy advancing to dislodge him, he attacked them with bombs, while also using his Lewis gun with great effect. Finding himself surrounded, he led his men in a charge through the enemy and reached a stream, where he and a private (Thomas Woodcock) covered his party while they crossed unscathed, before crossing themselves under a shower of bullets.”


john moyney Irish VC winner

John Moyney Irish VC winner


John Moyney survived the war and died in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary in 1980, aged 85.


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This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humoristIrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.

Visit Conor’s YouTube channel IrishmanSpeaks to Laugh and Learn. Tags: Best Irish Gift, Creative Irish Gift, Unique Irish Gifts, Irish Books, Irish Authors, Today in Irish History TODAY IN IRISH HISTORY (published by IrishmanSpeaks)

One Comment to “JFK got it wrong about The Irish Brigade. The Father of the US Navy John Barry. Irish VC Winner at Today in Irish History”

  1. I just recently switched my Blog O’The Irish from Blogger to WordPress and have started following your blog. Very interesting stuff indeed. My husband is going through chemo right now and I ordered For The Love of Being Irish..I know he will enjoy it..as will I. Thank you..

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