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The Irish at the Battle Of The Little Bighorn June 25th 1876

  • 22-07-2021 10:39pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭

    In June 1876 out of a total number of around 840 men serving in the 7TH Cavalry, 128 were Irish born. They came from 30 of the 32 counties of Ireland ( none from County Armagh and County Wicklow ).

    Out of the 7TH Cavalry force of around 600+ men that fought at the battle of the Little Bighorn - 103 were Irishmen.

    34 Irish were killed, of these 27 were among those killed with Custers battalion . 2 Irishmen were among the 24 men who received the medal of honor for their conduct during the battle. Sergeant Thomas Murray from County Monaghan and Private Thomas Callan from County Louth.

    Some of the Irishmen who fought at the battle of the Little Bighorn. 

    In order of photos above, from top to bottom.

    Captain Myles Keogh, commander of I company from County Carlow (killed),Keogh’s horse, Comanche, is considered the only survivor of Custers battalion, though several other badly wounded horses were also found ,the horse would then become the mascot of the 7TH Cavalry.

    Sergeant Richard Hughes from County Dublin, C company, he was the bearer of Custers personnel battle flag at the Little Bighorn (killed).

    Private Thomas O'Neill from County Dublin, G company.

    Corporal Thomas Egan from County Offaly, E company (killed) .

    Sergeant Thomas Wilford Harrison from County Sligo ,D Company.

    Private Daniel Newell from County Roscommon, M company,

    Private John (jack) Mahoney, from County Cork, C company.

    Private Thomas Callan from County Louth, B company, MOH winner. 

    Not pictured - Sergeant Jeremiah Finley from County Tipperary, C company, he made the buckskin jacket that Custer wore on the campaign ( killed).

    The Irish song Garryowen had become the official tune of the 7TH Cavalry and remains so till this day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭Billcarson

    March 1876

    Dear Sister:

    I take the preseant [sic] oppertunity [sic] of letting you no [sic] that I will soon be on the move again. We are to start the 10th of this month for the Big Horn country. The Indians are getting bad again. I think that we will have some hard times this summer. The old chief Sitting Bull says he will not make peace with the whites as long as he has a man to fight. The weather very cold hear [sic] at preasent [sic] and very likely to stay so for two months yet.Ella, you need not rite [sic] me again until you hear from me again. Give my love to Sister & Brother Jonny. Remember me to your husband. As soon as I got back of the campaign I will write you. That is if I do not get my hair lifted by some Indian. Well I will close, so no more at preasant [sic],

    From your loving brother,

    T.P. Eagan

    Thomas P. Eagan was originally from County Offaly,Ireland. He was a Corporal in Company E and killed with Custer's Battalion during the Battle of the Little Big Horn. His previous occupation was laborer. He enlisted in the 7th Cavalry on September 12, 1873, at the age of 25 at St. Louis Barracks, Missouri.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭Billcarson

    Well not an Irishman that fought at the battle but an Irishman who painted the first major painting of the battle.

    "Custer's last rally". The first major painting of the battle of the Little Bighorn. The 11 ft × 20 ft painting was painted by John Mulvany who started the work in his studio in Kansas City in 1879 and finished it in 1881. 

    Mulvany was born in Moynalty, County Meath, Ireland around 1839. He immigrated to America at the age of 12. In 1878, he visited the battle site and began sketching the area and taking notes. He visited the Sioux on their reservation and studied the dress and equipment of the U.S. Cavalry and obtained portraits and descriptions of Custer and his officers.

    The painting was considered a masterpiece and drew high praise wherever it was shown when it went on a 17 yr coast to coast tour of America. In 1898 Mulvany sold it for 25 thousand dollars to H.J. Heinz (of Heinz ketchup). 

    Mulvany living by then in New York would however end up destitute , suffering from alcoholism and cancer. His last week's were spent living on the streets. His body was pulled from the East River in Early May 1906, thought to be suicide.

    In 2017 "Custer's last rally" sold for 25 million dollars to a collector from Texas.