CAVANAGH, Michael. Memoirs of Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher Comprising the Leading Events of His Career … Including Personal Reminiscences. By Michael Cavanagh, Secretary to John O’Mahony, H.C. Fenian Brotherhood.

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Portrait frontispiece. Worcester, Mass.; Published by The Messenger Press, 1892. First edition. Royal octavo. pp. 496, 38 (Appendix and Index). Pictorial olive-green cloth, General Meagher in gilt on horseback holding a sword (“Meagher of the Sword”), titled in black and gold. A very good copy.
Meagher played an important role in Irish and American History. He was an Irish patriot and hero, a Civil War General in the Union Army and a frontier governor of Montana Territory. Hailed as a hero by some, condemned by others as a drunkard. He died a mysterious death the night of July 1, 1867 while aboard the steamer Thompson opposite Fort Benton. Thomas Francis Meagher (1882-1887), Young Irelander, was born in Waterford on the 3rd August 1823 and was educated at Clongowes Wood and Stonyhurst Colleges. After working as a journalist he studied law for a time. He became a close friend of William John Blake Dillon, Smith O’Brien and John Mitchel. The young wing of the party came to be known as Young Ireland and advocated the threat of force to achieve repeal of the Act of Union. Meagher was the immediate cause of the break between Young Ireland and the Repeal Association. In a speech in 1846 he hailed the sword as a sacred weapon, which led Thackeray to call him `Meagher of the Sword’. On a visit to France he was presented with a tricolour, which was later adopted as the national flag of Ireland. He was a founder member of the Irish Confederation, that proclaimed the right of Ireland to self-government and the need for self reliance. It was led by William Smith O’Brien and the membership included Mitchel, Duffy, Dillon and Doheny. After the collapse of the rising at Ballingarry, County Tipperary, Meagher went on the run and was arrested near Cashel and charged with high treason. Together with Smith O’Brien, T. B. McManus, and Patrick O’Donohoe he was tried in Clonmel and on 23 October 1848 sentenced to death. There followed a fairly comfortable detention in Richmond Prison in Dublin while appeals were pursued. The sentences were eventually commuted to transportation for life, and on 29 July 1849 Meagher began the three-month voyage to Tasmania aboard the Swift He escaped and made his way to America where he became a journalist and lecturer on Irish affairs. At the outbreak of the Civil War he became Brigadier-General of the New York Irish Brigade (the 69th, 88th and 63rd New York Volunteers), later known as `Meagher’s Brigade’. It was distinguished for its bravery in action at Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. After the war he was made Acting-Governor of Montana, while returning to explore the Northern Territory in 1867, he fell overboard his ship in mysterious circumstances and was drowned in the Missouri. He is commemorated by a statue in Helena, the capital of Montana.

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