Irish-American Participation In The Revolutionary War

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The American Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783 resulted in a new nation. Several British colonies gained independence and were at liberty to unite and form a federal union.

Before then, the relation between the British rulers and the American subjects had grown sour owing to the numerous punitive measures to the locals. To break from the colonial rule, the colonies attempted to seize the British Military bases and warships. With few attacks having proven successful in some colonies, they knew it was time to wage an extensive onslaught to the masters.

The Support Of The Germans

The soldiers involved in the Revolutionary War were few compared to the modern wars. The fighting groups used musket and bayonets during the war. Initially, the British dominance on the war front was attributed to a well-established navy power that was able to capture most of their enemy’s entry points.

For the Americans patriots, the British were the “redcoats”. With the American subjects outnumbering their colonial masters in Number, the British hired about 30,000 German soldiers who opted to fight as an ally but in their traditional military uniforms.

The Irish American Patriots

Having moved to the United States in search for a better life, the Irish immigrants showed no intention to go back to Ireland. They established businesses, sought formal employment, and assimilated into the local society.

Back at home, they suffered at the hand of the British colonial masters and had no option but to join the Native Americans to fight the common enemy. During the war, at least one-third of the soldiers in the Continental Army traced their ancestry from Ireland. More than twenty were in the position of generals while a dozen led the naval attacks on the seas. Their dedication and effort saw memorable victory and the subsequent independence of the United States.

Here are some of the Irish Americans that contributed immensely to the revolutionary war.

1. John Stark

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He served in different senior positions in the Military. His remarkable military experience and exemplary contribution to the pre-independence battles earned him recognition beyond the war duration. Born of Irish Mother, he is well known for leading his troops to guard the Breeds Hill when the rebels feared of impending attack from the British.

2. Gustavus Conyngham

Image Source: Arthur Szyk

Born in 1747 in Ireland, his family migrated to America in 1763. He began his naval career as an apprentice and saw his career rise to the position of a captain. Unlike other soldiers that received numerous accolades, increased remuneration, and promotions after successful battles, Conyngham received none that matched his selfless service to the Navy. He is known to have captured most of the British ships during the war.

3. Henry Knox

Image Source: Wikimedia

Born to Irish parents, Henry Knox was instrumental in the revolution war. His parents had migrated from North Ireland looking for freedom. He was a proprietor of the London Book Store found in Boston. He brought 50 cannons that were captured at Fort Ticonderoga, saving them from the hands of the British soldiers. He became brigadier-general when he managed to direct the Washington’s famous Christmas night trip in the Delaware River.

4. John Barry

Image Source: Wikipedia

Known to many as the Father of the American Navy, the Irish immigrant born made his name as a good captain in the famous transatlantic trade. He is famed for being the first Continental Navy captain to have successfully seized a British ship, known as the Edward. With poor communication networks affecting the naval activities, he authored the signal book that aimed at improving communications between the sailing vessels.

5. Timothy Murphy


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A respected sharpshooter, Timothy played a critical role in the revolution. He was also a member of the popular Col. Daniel Morgan’s Rifle Corps. The group was made up of several fierce sharpshooters that contributed to the victory in the battle. He made a name at the battle of Bemis Heights when he shot General Simon Fraser and Sir Francis.

6. Hercules Mulligan

The Master Spy, Mulligan, was instrumental during the Revolution. He remained in New York City as a secret agent when the British army took over the city, acting Loyal. He gathered valuable information from the British meetings and healthy interactions that the Continental army banked on to plan their attacks. As the war was ending, the American military accused him of partial loyalism to the British but was cleared.

7. John Sullivan

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With the rebels experiencing shortages in the supply of weapons, they depended on attacking the opponent’s bases for their replenishments. John is highly regarded for leading successful onslaughts on Fort William aimed at securing ammunitions for the rebels. He took a significant role in defeating the allied forces of Iroquois, and the Loyalists found in the NY Frontier. After his long involvement in the military, he was elected the governor of the New Hampshire.

8. Privateer Jeremiah O’Brien

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Jeremiah was a privateer of Maine who led a team of thirty-one armed soldiers to seize the British warship known as Margaretta in Machias. The events of that day were very vital in American history as it marked the day when the British colors were replaced with American ones. Although the continental army did not exist by this time, it formed the foundation for the establishment with the unity achieving more success.

9. Richard Montgomery

Image Source: Montgomery Place

The Irish born soldier first served in the British Army but later found his ranks to the brigadier general of the Continental army. His father, Thomas, was a baronet and a member of the Irish Parliament. He is well known for the failed Canadian invasion of 1775 the same year that he became the general of the Continental army. In the Montreal Expedition, he was the second person in command.

10. Stephen Moylan

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Born from a prominent Irish Catholic family, the experienced ship outfitter provided a wealth of knowledge in sailing activities. As the commander of the cavalry, he led the battle of Monmouth and took part in the battle of Springfield. He was the first Continental Army’s muster-master.

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