Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Meagher, Thomas Francis

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MEAGHER, Thomas Francis (marr), soldier, b. in Waterford, Ireland, 3 Aug., 1823; d. near Fort Benton, Montana, 1 July, 1867. His father, a merchant, who had made a fortune in the Newfoundland trade, represented Waterford in parliament for several years. At the age of nine Thomas Francis was sent to the Jesuit college of Clongowes Wood, County Kildare, where he remained six years, and then entered Stonyhurst college, near Preston, England. In 1843 he left that institution, and soon afterward made his appearance as a public speaker at the great national meeting at Kilkenny, over which Daniel O'Connell presided. From that time he was devoted to the cause of Ireland, and in 1846 became one of the leaders of the Young Ireland party, whose object was to obtain Irish independence by force of arms. In 1848 he was sent to Paris with an address to the provisional government of France from the Irish confederation, and on his return he presented the citizens of Waterford with an Irish tricolor, upon which occasion he made a fiery patriotic speech. On 21 March he was arrested on the charge of sedition, and was bailed to appear at the court of queen's bench. After the passage of the treason-felony act Meagher was arrested again, and in October, 1848, was convicted of treason and sentenced to death. The sentence was afterward commuted to banishment for life, and on 9 July, 1849, he was transported to Van Diemen's Land, but he escaped in 1852 and took refuge in the United States. In 1855 he had begun the study of the law, and he was subsequently admitted to the bar, but at the beginning of the civil war he at once abandoned his profession, and, organizing a company of zouaves for the National army, he joined the 69th New York volunteers, under Col. Michael Corcoran, and served during the first campaign in Virginia. At the first battle of Bull Run, where he was acting major of his regiment, a horse was shot under him. Upon the expiration of his three months' term of service he returned to New York, and in the latter part of 1861 organized the “Irish brigade,” being elected colonel of the first regiment. He was afterward assigned to command the brigade, his commission as brigadier-general bearing the date of 3 Feb., 1862. Gen. Meagher and his command fought bravely during the seven days' battles around Richmond, Va., and at the second battle of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Antietam, where again a horse was shot under him. At Fredericksburg he was wounded in the leg. After Chancellorsville his brigade was so decimated that he resigned, and was out of the war until early in 1864, when he was recommissioned brigadier-general of volunteers and assigned to the command of the district of Etowah. In January, 1865, he was relieved from duty in Tennessee, and ordered to report to Gen. Sherman in Savannah, but the close of the war prevented his performing any further active service. After being mustered out of the service in 1865, Gen. Meagher became secretary of Montana territory, and in the following September, Gov. Sydney Edgerton, being on the point of leaving the territory for a few months, appointed Gen. Meagher governor pro tempore. The hostile attitude of the Indians compelled him to take measures to protect the white settlers. While engaged in this duty he fell into the Missouri, from the deck of a steamboat, and was drowned. He was the author of “Speeches on the Legislative Independence of Ireland” (New York, 1852), of which six editions were issued.