DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE MITCHELS OF DUNGIVEN

John Mitchel was born to a radical Presbyterian minister, in Dungiven, Ireland, in 1815. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and became a lawyer and journalist.  An outspoken nationalist, his love for Ireland led him to establish the United Irishman newspaper in 1848, but his impassioned articles soon led to his arrest on a charge of treason.  Found guilty, he was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania).  In 1853 he escaped and made his way to the United States.  He settled in the south where he published a newspaper, and gave three sons to the Confederate cause in the American Civil War.

His eldest son, Captain John C. Mitchel, First South Carolina Artillery, opened the barrage on Charleston’s Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 that started the American Civil War.  Later, in command of that same Fort, he was killed during a Union barrage.  His sword is in a glass case in a Charleston museum with a confederate flag, both gifted by his mother in 1896. A display plate reads: The sword worn by Capt John C. Mitchel, First Regiment, South Carolina Artillery and the flag that waved over Fort Sumter on July 20, 1864, the day he was killed.  His dying words were ‘I willingly give my life for South Carolina.  Oh, that I could have died for Ireland! Those words are also inscribed on his headstone in nearby Magnolia Cemetery, in a plot shaped in the outline of Fort Sumter.

His youngest son, Willie, joined the First Virginia Regiment and was killed in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 carrying his regiment’s colors.  After the battle, members of the Union Army’s Irish Brigade, learned from Confederate Irish captives that John Mitchel’s son had fallen on the field.  They left a detachment behind to locate the body.  It was discovered in a shallow grave wrapped in a blanket secured with three pins and a note attached that read, Willie Mitchel, son of an Irish patriot.

Captain James Mitchel was the only son to survive the war, but he lost an arm in combat.  After the war he relocated north and settled in the Bronx, NY.  He became involved in politics and became a City Fire Marshal.  He went after and jailed a number of arsonist gangs who made a living hiring out to businessmen who wanted to collect on insurance claims.  He thereby incurred the wrath of several big businessmen and he lost his job in a political feud.  He married the sister of County Clerk Henry Purroy and they had one son.  They named him John Purroy Mitchel after James father and his mother’s maiden name.

Meanwhile, old John himself returned to Ireland in 1874 and the following year was elected to the House of Commons from Tipperary.  Denied his seat because he was considered a felon, he returned to his constituency and was overwhelmingly re-elected.  However, he died before he could take his seat.

 

The last surviving male in the Mitchel line was young John Purroy Mitchel.  Somehow, the family had become Roman Catholic and young John Purroy Mitchel was educated at Fordham University.  Raised with the same strong sense of patriotism and civic duty that marked his father and grandfather, after graduating Law School, he became an incorruptible reformer fighting the graft of Tammany Hall.  His successes led him to become the youngest man ever elected Mayor of New York City (1914-1917) at age 34.  While in office Mitchel cut waste, improved accounting practices, and professionalized the city’s civil service by standardizing salaries and work guidelines for municipal employees.  Widely known as the “Boy Mayor,” he also fought police corruption, instituted the nation’s first zoning guidelines, and appointed the first woman to lead a major municipal agency in any U.S. city.

After his term as Mayor, World War I was raging and young John joined the new Army Aviation Service.  Sadly, Major Mitchel was killed in an accident during a training flight in Louisiana; he was only 38 years old.  New York and the nation responded with a flurry of eulogies and memorials, including a Mitchel Square memorial park at 167th Street and Broadway and a memorial bust at the entrance to Central Park on 5th Avenue at 90th Street.  The next time you end the NY St. Patrick’s Parade on Fifth Avenue, walk up a few blocks and check it out.  Also named in honor of this beloved public servant and American patriot was Mitchel Field, a former Army Air Service airfield on Long Island from where Charles Lindbergh took off on the first trans Atlantic flight to Paris.  As he flew over Ireland, I wonder if Lucky Lindy realized he was flying over the resting place of the grandfather of the man for whom his point of departure was named.  Among the many eulogies given at Mitchel’s passing, President Theodore Roosevelt was moved to say, No stauncher American, no abler public servant, and no finer natural soldier than [John] Purroy Mitchel was to be found in all our country.

John Purroy Mitchel’s patriotism for America was a reflection of his grandfather’s patriotism for Ireland and his sense of justice was the same as his father’s.  It seems that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Did You Know About The Mitchels of Dungiven?

John Mitchel was born to a radical Presbyterian minister, in Dungiven, Ireland, in 1815. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and became a lawyer and journalist. An outspoken nationalist, his love for Ireland led him to establish the United Irishman newspaper in 1848, but his impassioned articles soon led to his arrest on a charge of treason. Found guilty, he was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania). In 1853 he escaped and made his way to the United States. He settled in the south where he published a newspaper, and gave three sons to the Confederate cause in the American Civil War. His eldest son, Captain John C. Mitchel, served in the South Carolina Regular Artillery, which opened the barrage on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 which started the war. Later on July 20, 1864, he was killed commanding a battery at Fort Sumter. As he lay dying, he uttered, in paraphrase the last words of Patrick Sarsfield, the Earl of Lucan (killed at Landen, Holland, 1693), I willingly give my life for South Carolina. Oh, that I could have died for Ireland! Those words are inscribed on his headstone in nearby Magnolia Cemetery, in a plot surrounded by a replica of Fort Sumter.

His youngest son, Willie, was killed in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. After the battle, members of the Union Army’s Irish Brigade, learned from Confederate Irish captives that John Mitchel’s son had fallen on the field. They left a detachment behind to locate the body. It was discovered in a shallow grave – one of the only ones to be buried during the fierce battle – wrapped in a blanket secured with three pins and a note attached that read, Willie Mitchel, son of an Irish patriot. Another son, James, survived the war but lost an arm in combat.

Old John himself returned to Ireland in 1874 and the following year was elected to the House of Commons from Tipperary. Denied his seat because he was considered a felon, he returned to his constituency and was overwhelmingly re-elected. However, he died before he could take his seat.

After the Civil War, John’s only surviving son, James, relocated to New York and settled in the Fordham section of the Bronx. There he had a son whom he named after his father. Somehow, the family had become Roman Catholic and young John Purroy Mitchel was raised with the same strong sense of patriotism and civic duty that marked his grandfather’s family. After graduating Law School, he became an incorruptible reformer fighting the graft of Tammany Hall. His successes led him to become the youngest man ever elected Mayor of New York City (1914-1917) at age 34.

While in office Mitchel cut waste, improved accounting practices, and professionalized the city’s civil service by standardizing salaries and work guidelines for municipal employees. Widely known as the “Boy Mayor,” he also fought police corruption, instituted the nation’s first zoning guidelines, and appointed the first woman to lead a major municipal agency in any U.S. city.

After his term as Mayor, World War I was raging and young John joined the new Army Aviation Service. Sadly, he was killed in an accident during a training flight in Louisiana; he was only 38 years old. New York and the nation responded with a flurry of eulogies and memorials, including a memorial at the entrance to New York’s Central Park on 5th Avenue at 90th Street. The next time you end the NY St. Patrick’s Parade at 86th and Fifth, walk up a few blocks and check it out. Also named in honor of this beloved public servant and American patriot was Mitchel Square, a small triangular park in Manhattan, at St. Nicholas Avenue and 166th Street; and Mitchel Field, a former Army Air Service airfield on Long Island from where Charles Lindbergh took off on the first trans Atlantic flight to Paris. As he flew over Ireland, I wonder if Lucky Lindy realized he was flying over the resting place of the grandfather of the man for whom his point of departure was named. Among the many eulogies given at Mitchel’s passing, President Theodore Roosevelt was moved to say,…”No stauncher American, no abler public servant, and no finer natural soldier than [John] Purroy Mitchel was to be found in all our country.”

John Purroy Mitchel’s patriotism for America was a reflection of his grandfather’s patriotism for Ireland. It seems that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The Battle of Benburb

The 17th century dawned in Ire-land during the 9-years war of the northern Chieftains against the Crown. By 1602 that conflict was over; Red Hugh O’Donnell had been poisoned, the Irish had capitulated, and Queen Elizabeth was dead. Against the treachery that threatened their heirs and families, the noblest Chieftains of the north – The O’Neill, the O’Donnell, and the Maguire – left Ireland forever in what be-came known as the Flight of the Earls.

The Irish were leaderless, the Clan system had been broken, the great Gaelic Houses destroyed, and a foreign power had been established in possession of the land. The conquest of Ireland was finally complete; or so it appeared. Beneath it all, the bards kept the heritage alive. Outlawed poets started hedge schools; Priests said Mass at stone altars in the glens; the music, the language, and the learning survived – but the British were determined to stop even that limited existence of Celtic culture. After the flight of the earls, James I of England, declared that the recently de-parted northern Chieftains had been conspiring to rebel, and their estates were forfeit to the Crown.

Four million acres of Ulster were given to men called Undertakers – that is, any loyal Englishman who agreed to undertake the dispossession of the Irish. Soldiers, drapers, fish-mongers, vintners, haberdashers, anyone seeking free land became the new owners of Ulster. A contemporary writer named Stewart, son of a Presbyterian minister, wrote that they were “for the most part the scum of both nations, who from debt or fleeing justice came hither hoping to be without fear of man’s laws.” They hunted the Irish like animals, drove them into the woods, mountains, and moors where thousands perished of starvation within sight of lands that their clans had owned from time immemorial. Before their eyes, an alien nation was planted on the fair face of Ireland’s proudest province.

But the Irish would not starve and die in their own fertile land. Their rage grew daily until a leader emerged in the person of Rory Og O’Moore. He had patiently worked for years among the leading Irish families, Irish Generals in the Continental armies, and other Irish exiles to oust the British. Then, on the night of October 21, 1641, the remnants of the northern clans burst forth sweeping the terrified Undertakers before them. Descendants of the old Clans O’Neill, Magennis, O’Hanlon, O’Hagan, MacMahon, Maguire, O’Quinn, O’Farrell, and O’Reilly burst forth from the hills and, in a few hours, made Ulster their own again. A few days later, Phelim O’Neill was proclaimed head of an Ulster army, and by early 1642, Leinster and Munster joined the fight for freedom; still later, Connaught joined. The Crown, poured men and arms into Ire-land to fight the rebels. The Irish gentry formed the Confederation of Kilkenny to direct the resistance, and, believing that the new King, Catholic-born Charles I, was a friend of Ire-land, they confirmed their stand for ‘faith, country, and King’. The Irish Chieftains yielded for the sake of unity.

In England, a struggle between King Charles and his Puritan Parliament developed into a civil war. As his situation grew worse, King Charles began to court the Confederation. Futile negotiations frustrated the fighting spirit of the Irish, and they began to suffer defeat after de-feat until, in despair, they considered coming to terms with the English. Suddenly, from the Boyne to the sea, Ulster shook with the news: Owen Roe is come!

On July 6, 1642, with 100 officers in his company, Owen Roe O’Neill, landed in Donegal. A mere boy when he had left Ire-land with his uncle, Hugh O’Neill, during the Flight of the Earls, he had won distinction as a military commander in the Irish Brigade of the Spanish Army. A trained soldier and military leader, he had returned to lead the fight for Ireland’s freedom. He was given command of the northern army which he rebuilt, and began to challenge the English on the field of battle. In short order, he regained all that had been lost due to the procrastination of the Confederation, but jealous of his growing power, they hampered his efforts at every turn.

Then, on June 5, 1646, England sent their best field commander, General Monroe, against Owen Roe. This would silence the young upstart forever. Monroe had 6,000 men and a full compliment of field artillery. O’Neill had only 5,000 men and no artillery. The two armies met at the junction of the river Oonah and the Blackwater adjacent to the village of Benburb – a place that would live forever on the lips of the storytellers, for it was here, in one masterful battle, that Owen Roe proved his superiority and the superiority of his army. Monroe’s men were fresh, and he set them up so that he would have the ad-vantage of the sun at his back. O’Neill kept Monroe’s nerves and the nerves of his men on edge for several hours in that hot sun while his men harassed them with hit and run skirmishing raids. Finally, when the sun had shifted to behind his back, O’Neill gave the word “Sancta Maria,” and launched a whirl-wind attack. His cavalry captured Monroe’s guns, and his infantry overwhelmed the English legions driving them into the river. In one short hour, O’Neill had wiped out the pride of the British army; 32 standards were taken; Lord Ardes and 32 officers were captured; cannon, baggage, and 2-months provisions were taken; and 1,500 horses were now in Irish possession. 3,300 of Monroe’s army lay dead on the field, while Owen Roe lost but 70. Ulster had been won by Owen Roe O’Neill. The Confederation, fearing his growing power, would eventually turn on O’Neill, and everything would be lost in the end. But for a brief while, all of Ireland was talking about Owen Roe O’Neill and the Battle of Benburb on June 5, 1646.