Thomas Francis Meagher was born August 3, 1823 in Waterford, Ireland. He received a Catholic college education and practiced law in Dublin. Here he came in contact with the Irish national movement and joined their struggle. An outspoken opponent of British rule, Meagher was a leading voice in the 1848 uprising. He arrived in New York in 1852.

He made the difficult decision in 1861 to fight with the Union because he felt patriotism and duty bound to defend the Union, which had granted him refugee and whose success was required if Ireland was to have any chance at independence. He joined the 69th New York Volunteer Regiment, which participated in the First Battle of Bull Run under their commander Colonel Michael Corcoran, another Irish immigrant. The 69th New York was the centerpiece after Bull Run for the newly formed Irish Brigade, with Meagher as commander and brigadier general. Faced with the mounting losses at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, he resigned in protest that the government was not allowing the Irish brigade to recover and replace its battlefield losses. He returned briefly to command in late 1864, but was soon on his way to Montana territory where he was Secretary and Acting Governor. He died out in Montana on July 1, 1867 under mysterious circumstances.

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