St. Louis Irish Confederates

Come all you that hold true communion with southern Confederates bold,
I will tell you of some men who for the Union in the northern ranks were enrolled;
Who came to Missouri in their glory, and thought by their power we´d be dismayed;
But we soon made them tell a different story when they met with Kelly´s Irish Brigade.

Three cheers for the Irish Brigade
Three cheers for the Irish Brigade.
And all true-hearted Hibernians
In the ranks of Kelly´s Irish Brigade!


Verse Two:

You call us rebels and traitors, but yourselves have thrown off that name of late.
You were called it by the English invaders at home in seventeen and ninety-eight.
The name to us is not a new one, though ´tis one that never will degrade
Any true-hearted Hibernian in the ranks of Kelly´s Irish Brigade
Three cheers for the Irish Brigade
Three cheers for the Irish Brigade.
And all true-hearted Hibernians
In the ranks of Kelly´s Irish Brigade!

Verse Three:

You dare not call us invaders, ´tis but State's rights and liberties we ask;
And Missouri, we ever will defend her, no matter how hard be the task.
Then let true Irishmen assemble; let the voice of Missouri be obeyed;
And northern fanatics may tremble when they meet with Kelly´s Irish Brigade

Three cheers for the Irish Brigade
Three cheers for the Irish Brigade.
And all true-hearted Hibernians
In the ranks of Kelly´s Irish Brigade!


  • This page is dedicated to the memory of Gaylord Patrick O'Connor, (1916-1994) who was a longtime member of the Sterling Price Camp, No. 145 and "the driving spirit behind the Missouri Division". Pat, a former combat infantry officer of WWII, earned both the French and Belgian Croix de Guerre (Cross of War). A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, he was a soldier of the highest character.


     Father John B. Bannon

    and the St. Louis Irish ConfederateS

    By S. K. Williams

         Father John B. Bannon, known for being the "Fighting Chaplain" of the Missouri Brigade not only served as a Pastor, but as a soldier and a secret agent for the South. Even though Confederate General Sterling Price declared that Father John B.  Bannon was the "greatest soldier I ever saw",  he is relatively unknown to most modern Missourians.  Who was he and where did he come from ? He  was born 29 Dec 1829 in Roosky, Ireland. He grew up near the Shannon river in the County Roscommon in west-central Ireland. Not much is known about his family except that his mother's maiden name was O'Farrell and he was the grandson of Henry Sanford Pageman Mahon. By the time he enrolled (27 August 1847) in the "Royal College of St. Patrick" at Maynooth (County Kildare), only his father and a brother were living. This was a time of the "Potato Famine", where nearly a million Irish men, women, and children died.

      Ordained a priest in May of 1853, Father Bannon volunteered to immigrate to America to serve the thousands of Irish who came to the New World. By September of that year, Bannon arrived by steamboat to St. Louis, Missouri.  Father Bannon first served as assistant pastor at what we now call, "The old Cathedral", which was the main Catholic Church at the time. The primary pastor  was Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, . This church,  an Irish congregation was attacked by mobs in August of 1854, as had also the Jesuit St. Louis University,  Catholic and Irish residences across the city. Many of the Irish community in St. Louis were living in utter poverty of the "Kerry Patch", an Irish ghetto in North St. Louis (named after County Kerry in Ireland).  St. Louis, like many of city, was ripe with anti-Irish discrimination and anti-Catholic prejudice. Part of this hatred was due to the rise of the "Know-Nothing" political party, but was much more widespread than those belonging to this political philosophy.


    Battle Flag of Missouri Confederate
    (bearing the latin cross was sewn by the ladies of New Orleans)


          In addition, the growing German population of the city, which composed of many refugees from the failed 1848 "Peasant Revolution" of Germany,  was for the most part anti-Catholic, which translated to being also "anti-Irish".  The "free thinking" ex-revolutionaries or "green party" Germans as they were commonly known, formed social clubs that were considered by some to be a replacement for church. This pitted them against the "grays" (Germans that were mostly Catholic and conservative Lutherans).  It was kind of a "Civil war" but confined to rhetoric.  The "greens" were mainly those that arrived after 1848, so they were less Americanized than their earlier counterparts and  more likely to  be pro-Union.    Many had previous encounters with  Catholic Germans of the old country, so it was hard for them to see eye-to-eye with Irish Catholics. Likewise, the Irish community was not only losing jobs and political influence to these German speaking neighbors but were also seeing another growing threat prior to the war--- the massive militarization of the German "Wide Awake" militias under the direction of Missouri Senator Frank Blair.  The leadership of the German community was decidedly Pro-Union and in favor of a powerful Federal government. Many of their  leaders ("Forty-eighters") came to the United States after the Karl Marx influenced   "Peasant revolution" of 1848 failed to install a  centralized government  in Germany.  So it was natural when the Republican party began advocating a strong Federal Government, the German community rallied behind them. [Note: Karl Marx had an influence on the 1848 Revolution but the Germans revolutionaries were not all socialist, infact the majority were not.]

         The majority of the Democratic Irish of St. Louis openly supported the Confederate cause, mainly because they opposed a strong centralized government like what they were under in the British Empire. They had seen the oppression that a totalitarian government could and would impose on their freedom. Many Irish in St. Louis and across Missouri fully accepted the principles of  "States Rights" and were willing to die for them.  Like the majority of Missourians,  Irish St. Louisians wanted to remain neutral and left alone by these nationalistic "Hessian" militias.

    "Armed neutrality", was the Missouri State maxim of the day and was quite popular with St. Louis' Irish. There was an active Fenian movement in St. Louis, or exiled Irishmen seeking military experience to one day return to Ireland and to regain their emerald isle from the English.

    Of the militia units at the annual Missouri Volunteer Militia encampment ("Camp Jackson") at Lindell's Grove, north of the city in early May 1861, at least four were nearly entirely Irish. These were, and many of the others had significant Irish. These were the Emmett Guards, commanded by Capt. Philip Coyne; the Washington Blues, by Capt. Joseph Kelly; the Washington Guards, by Capt. Patrick Gorman, and an artillery battery, "Guibor's Battery" ,under the command of Lt. Henry Guibor. High Irish enlistment also made up the a large percentage of the Minute Men Militia, commanded by Capt. Colton Greene and St. Louis Grays, by Capt. Martin Burke and a number of other units.

    The intrusion of Irish neighborhoods, on the eve of May 10, 1861, by the German militia headed by a New England officer, Nathaniel Lyon outraged the Irish community that settled in the northern part of the City. The complete surrounding of Camp Jackson and the capture of the Irish militias (along with those of American born Missouri militias), polarized St. Louis to an intense degree. The presence of growing native Irish and American born crowds grew as the Camp Jackson spectacle became known. Men armed with shotguns, pistols, brickbats, stones shouted and threatened the "Hessian" militias. Even women joined the protests, while the cautious closed the shutters and sought refuge in the basements.

  • During the march of the prisoners through the Irish and Southern neighborhoods, the German troops were constantly heckled, spit upon, and rocks and bricks thrown at them. One man on the sideline who made a threatening gesture was bayoneted to death. A shot was fired and a prominent Prussian officer was shot dead off his horse. The German militias, terrified by the outnumbering hostile masses that were pushing in on the column from the sides. They fired a wild volley here and there. At least a hundred civilians were wounded or killed on the spot, men, women, and children. A handful of the prisoners and German militia were also killed or wounded. This became known as the Camp Jackson massacre and the St. Louis Irish would never forget. Even those of staunch Union affiliations were outraged over the public show and use of force on a legal encampment of State militia and innocent civilians.

    Even staunchly Union men among those at Camp Jackson were incensed over the Federal action at Camp. Elihu H. Shephard, a native of Vermont, Mexican war veteran and would later serve in the Union militia was one of Lyon's sharpest critics of that day.  Shephard was among his old "regiment" of the St. Louis Gray Militia at Camp Jackson which he called nothing but a "camp of instruction".  Shephard recalling the event, in his autobiography, "This outrage was not perpetrated without other atrocious acts of violence committed within a few yards of me, by which about thirty innocent persons lost their lives, under that false plea, "military necessity", by order of a malicious, dogmatical officer, who delighted in carnage and blood, and could find no other way but this of gratifying his evil propensity. We were closely guarded, and I occupied a position in the line of prisoners most favorable to observe and hear the whole transaction."

    Following the invasion of Camp Jackson (near the Irish part of the city), the German militias fired upon a crowd of citizens in the streets, and Federal control of the city made neutrality no longer an option. Throughout the rest of the day and the following, the city of St. Louis was in riot (at least portions occupied by the Irish and Southern populations).

    "Southern men, ragged and starving, were fighting for the protection of their homes." 
    --Father John B. Bannon


     Many of the Irish of the city fled South and joined up with Sterling Price's Army near the Arkansas border. Father Bannon writing home to St. Louis early in the war, recorded, "Some regiments have Catholic chaplains, the number of Catholics being so many as to give them the majority in the election.  Other regiments are entirely Catholic--Louisiana, Hibernian, Irish and French in Price's Army...about 1500 Catholics [under my care] trusting as I do on the voluntary gifts of the Catholics whom I serve...".  Open recruitment in St. Louis became no longer possible, the city was put under martial law, and newspaper reports became censored.  St. Lousians trickled down to join Confederate ranks in not only Price's command but also in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee regiments. It is for this reason that the St. Louis Confederate Irish were never organized into their own regiments, but spread out over many different units.  In addition, an accurate total number of Irish recruits from St. Louis is not possible, especially since there are no complete set of rosters for the State in existence. Maj. William Clark Kennerly (nephew of Gen. Wm. Clark, the explorer  of "Lewis & Clark" fame), who served in the Confederate army, wrote that 5,000 St. Louisans went South after the war began. A fair rough estimate would be that atleast 1,000 to 2,000 of these were Irish St. Louisans. [Note: Some rosters have been reconstructed, please see our "St. Louis Confederate Units" page]

         Those that remained behind supported the southern cause in any way they could. This wasn't easy because the Federals had secret police, known as "detectives" stationed everywhere in the city. These  detectives could be a servant in a home or a vendor on the street. Simply by trying to discourage another neighbor from joining the Union army, if caught could send one to prison. Criticizing the way the war was being fought was another treasonable offense. This is why there was so many political prisoners among the POWs and why it was dangerous to be an outspoken Democrat in St. Louis. Furthermore, it wasn't easy making one's way out of the city, which was under martial law, as the roads were all guarded by Federal troops. Maj. Kennerly only made it out by outwitting guards that he and his couple companions were only going on a fishing trip south of the city for the day.

         Then there was the problem of avoiding the Union draft. Few Irish in St. Louis wanted to enlist and they had a unique way in avoiding it. Although they hated the English occupation of Ireland, they now were experiencing the Yankee occupation of St. Louis. Those that were born in Ireland could claim British citizenship (and  the protection from the draft by the British government).  So hundreds of them applied for this protection and obtained resident amnesty under the St. Louis British Consulate office. Union officials knew the scam but they could not violate international law. These St. Louis Irish (that claimed to be British subjects) were closely watched and were considered "disloyal" as if they were pro-Confederates. 

         From the State of Missouri, uniquely Irish Confederate units included Capt. Joseph Kelly's "Fighting Irish" (Company F, 5th MO. Infantry) and Capt. Ephraim V. Kelly's battery known as "Kelly’s Irish Light Artillery". It is not certain if any of the members of this second unit came from St. Louis or not. These units and the rest of the Missouri Brigade were considered "the South's finest" in fighting ability. When it came to hold a difficult position or to charge a formidable force, the elite Missouri brigade was frequently a commander's preferred pick. Father John Bannon who ministered to these brave men, was a man cut from the same cloth. Archbishop Patrick J. Ryan, in 1884 when leaving St. John Church in St. Louis (founded by Father John Bannon), tenderly expressed his affection for Father Bannon, who was his personal friend. Ryan, stated, "He built this church, and having completed it, and being so deeply attached to it, as a priest will be to a church for which he has begged and for which he fought, loving it tenderly, and loving it with that great heart of his, sacrificed all, and without hesitation left everything; because he heard that there were Catholic young men of the city in the Confederate Army without a chaplain to minister to them who might fall in battle at any moment. He risked his life crossing the lines, was for a time pursued, but with the same high motive and sense of duty and self-sacrificing charity for the young men whom he knew and loved, he made this sacrifice and left an imperishable record of his personal courage and devotion to the great cause. Twice did the Commanding General order him off the field, and threaten him with arrest because he did not keep within the proper lines when someone had fallen among the rushing balls in the midst of the greatest danger. His heart I am sure is with us tonight."

         For the first year of the war there was no Irish Union regiment that could be recruited from the city. Union officials were alarmed at the direction the war was going. It had by all appearances an ethnic war--the Irish vs. the Germans.  Some renegade St. Louis Irish did enlist in the Union Army (8th Missouri Volunteer Infantry USA "Fighting Irish Zouaves") and fought their St. Louis neighbors on the battlefield. No doubt some families had family members in both armies. Those who fought for the Union were offered large bounties and other favors for enlisting in an unholy war on brothers.  However, Federal recruiters could not find enough Missouri Irish to fill the ranks of the "Fighting Irish Zouaves".  Large numbers of Irish were recruited in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and brought to Missouri.  That's how St. Louis was able to field an Irish regiment for the Union, there was absolutely no other way.      

    Nationally, the Irish were bearing the brunt of being Union "cannon fodder". Union recruiters were going as far as Ireland to enlist men for the Army. As soon as they arrived off the ship, they were given the security of pay, regular food, and a nice new uniform. But thousands of these men would never again see Ireland or even New York again. They were slaughtered in a war in which many had no interest in fighting. Father John Bannon seeing this, following the fall of Vicksburg,  knew he had to save "Irish souls by keeping them out of such a devil's scheme to crush the Southern people".  Joining Bishop Patrick Neison Lynch (son of Conlaw Peter Lynch and Eleanor MacMahon Neison; b. 1817 County Monaghan, Ireland) of South Carolina, Bannon became an emissary to Ireland and secret agent of the Confederacy. Father Bannon and Bishop Lynch met with Irish clergy congregations, and even Pope Pius IX (who was sympathetic with the Southern People).  The Pope appropriately addressed President Jefferson Davis in his letter as "The Illustrious and Honorable Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America." Father Bannon's successful efforts greatly reduced by over two-thirds the number of Irishmen entering Union ranks.  By early 1864, the people of Ireland. Bannon reported, "sympathized with the South, the priesthood advocated the Southern cause, ...and should the ...Confederate recruiting officers be allowed to enter the field of competition for recruits...the Southern cause would attract four-fifths of the material."

    "We who were all praying for the North at the opening of the war, would willingly fight for the South if we could get there." --General consensus of the Irish people reported by Father Bannon while in serving in Ireland.

    In a Handbill Father Bannon circulated:

         It is well authenticated that many an Irish Emigrant on landing at the other side of the Atlantic, is set up, cajoled, and enticed away, to swell the ranks of the Federal Army. The moment that an Emigrant Ship reaches the port of America, the unpretending Emigrant, full of warm and friendly feelings to the Country, is persuaded by interested Agents to declare his intention to become a Citizen (as they term it, a Real American); after his declaration being made, according to the late Act of Congress, he comes under the CONSCRIPTION LAW.

    And no alternative is left. He becomes a SOLDIER. In 48 hours he is landed in the Swamps of Carolinas, or on the Sand Bars of Charleston.  There to imbrue his hands in THE BLOOD OF HIS COUNTRYMEN, and fight for a people that has the greatest antipathy to his birth and creed.

     Let Irishmen remember the fate of MEAGHER's Brigade, on the bloody field of Fredericksburg, 5,000 strong ! Now no more; and were refused permission to reorganize; some of the New York Papers stating that they could afford to lose a few thousand of the scum of the Irish."

    "And the green flags lie torn on many a battle-field, and the bones of those who were to liberate Ireland whiten the plains of the continent from Galveston to the Potomac. It is pity to them; yet; they deserved their fate. They were prompt to carry fire and sword into the peaceful abodes of a people who had never wronged them..." --Richmond Enquirer, 21 Nov 1863
    (concerning Irish serving in Union ranks)

    "Kelly's Irish Brigade"

    ("Washington Blues" Missouri Volunteer Militia)


    One prominent Irish immigrant,  Joseph Kelly  was a Irish immigrant having served in the British Army then later became a St. Louis grocer before to the war (1861-1865).  In 1857, he started the "Washington Blues" militia which was considered the finest militia unit of the city. (Money collected from spectators while the unit drilled was donated to Fr. John Bannon who operated the  "Catholic Total Abstinence and Benevolence Society".  In time, they contributed a major source funds which Father Bannon could build "St. John the Apostle and Evangelist" Church,  in St. Louis.) "Kelly's Brigade" refers to the prewar State militia units of St. Louis  that which had pro-southern sympathies.  These were rich with both Irish and Scots-Irish, who united in the common cause of defending their native from outside invaders. Kelly's original, the "Washington Blues" militia, had the highest concentration of Irish Catholic recruits. It first saw action on the Kansas frontier with Missouri in late 1860.   It's first major engagement was at Carthage and Wilson's Creek where it served in the 6th division of the  Missouri State Guard.  Joseph  Kelly wounded at Wilson's Creek but had recovered enough to see action at the Battle of Lexington.  Following this, the unit went with Sterling Price into Arkansas where they participated in the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge). After this engagement, the men transferred to regular Confederate service in the 1st and many to Company F "The Fighting Irish" of  the 5th Missouri Infantry CSA.

    "At them boys !  At them! For the honor of Old Ireland ! " 
    -- Battle cry of one Irish St. Louisan of Cockrell's Confederate Brigade at Battle of Champion's Hill, Mississippi 

    Capt. Patrick Canniff

         Very soon after serving as Captain of Company F,  Kelly was promoted to a Colonel serving on Gen. Mosby M. Parson's staff.  Captain Patrick Canniff replaced  Kelly as commander of  Company F.  Only a very small handful of this company ever returned back to St. Louis.  Company F for instance, lost 70% of their number in the battle at Corinth, Mississippi. Here they were faced off against renegade Unionist Irish of St. Louis under command of Col. Patrick E. Burke.  Irish fighting Irish, St. Louisans fighting St. Louisans. The Irish Missouri Confederates never lost faith that they were on the side of true justice and honor.  Both Burke and Canniff would later be killed  in the war on the same year, 1864. The overwhelming majority men of Company F may be buried on some lonely battlefield, but their families back in St. Louis never forgot them.

         One soldier, a Lt. Warren,  recorded an episode where Company F, under Capt. Caniff saw intense action at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain  (27 Jun 1864). "Those of us that were sleeping late this morning (having been on picket three consecutive days) were aroused by the most terrific outburst of artillery that the enemy has yet treated us to.  Every gun that could reach us was brought to bear on Little Kennesaw.  We knew what the shelling foreboded--every man sprang to his arms--Caniff shouted for each to take his place in the trenches, and in a moment all was ready.  I shall always wonder how I got safely across the bald mountain top, through the flying mass of shells and fragments of rock."

         "The artillery soon slackened its fire and we could hear the volleys delivered by our skirmishers as they met the first line of the enemy. Poor fellows !--few of them could get back up that rugged mountain side in time to save themselves. In a few minutes the enemy made their appearance, a solid line of blue emerging from the woods, a hundred yards below us.  We gave them a volley that checked them where they stood.  As this line was melting away under our steady fire, another pressed forward and reached the foot of the mountain. Behind this came yet another line, but our fire was so steady and accurate that they could not be induced to advance, through their officers could be plainly seen trying to urge them up the hill. Then came another column, the heaviest that had yet appeared, which made the final, as well as the most determined assault, and which stood their ground longer than the others. Some of these men came twenty or thirty yards up the side of the mountain, but they were nearly all shot down, which deterred the others from following. Our men shot with unusual accuracy, because they had the low stone breastworks, which we had constructed with so much labor, on which to rest their guns."

         "In three-fourths of an hour the attack was over and the Federals were gone, leaving large numbers of their dead lying at the bottom of the hill. I never saw our boys behave with greater coolness and courage. The enemy renewed and kept up their shelling until night, which was most efficiently and gallantly replied to by the batteries of Bledsoe and Guibor." (Guibor battery was another St. Louis unit that served in the Confederate Missouri Brigade)

    Sharing Coffee with Yankees

         At another time (28 May 1864) in a much more friendly encounter with Federal troops, Lt. Warren records, "Just after dark firing ceased on the line. A Yankee vidette called out to our vidette to come over and get a cup of coffee. Private Dan Monahan answered and said he would go if they would promise to let him come back. The promise was made and Monahan went over to their pits and shared their hard-tack and coffee. He made an exchange of some tobacco for Northern papers, and was just preparing to start back when an officer came up. Monahan's presence being explained to him, he told the venturesome Irishman to go back and ask the officer in charge of our skirmishers to meet him half-way between the lines, as he wished to arrange for the removal of two of our dead that were lying close to his skirmish pits. Monahan returned with his message, and when the signal was given, Capt. Caniff went out and met the officer.  They had arranged that matter and were just commencing to talk on other topics, when suddenly a heavy fire was opened by the Mississippians on our left.  They thought the enemy were advancing, their skirmishers ran in and volley after volley was fired from the main works. This idea seemed to to take possession of the armies, for the fire was opened on both sides with musketry and artillery and extended along the the whole front for miles.  Our Brigade was the only one, I do believe, that was not affected by the general scare; they did not fire a shot, for they knew where the enemy were before them. The Yankee in our front, however, were affected like the rest.

        "Caniff and the Yankee officer had to shelter themselves behind a tree until the heaviest volleys were over. They then separated. Caniff got safely in; we don't know how the other fared in getting back to his line. The regiment opposing us was the seventh Illinois, and Monahan says they are 'devilish good fellows'. Both armies were on the alert the balance of the night, each thinking the other meant a night attack."

    The Death of  Capt. Patrick Caniff

         Due to his battlefield valor, Patrick Caniff was put in command of  the combined regiments of the third and fifth Missouri Infantry at the Battle of Franklin (Tennessee). [Due to thinning ranks, the regiments were combined]. This was a battle of many unfortunate horrors for the Missouri Brigade.  Many of the men have marched shoeless in cold sub-zero weather, with scant clothing, and meager rations.  At Franklin, the Missourians were ordered to make a frontal charge against a well entrenched enemy. After the battle was over the entire Missouri Brigade had lost nearly two-thirds of its men. A disastrous lost, comparable to the loss of the British Light Brigade at Balaklava. .

        On Dec 1 1864, Lt. Warren writes, "When daybreak did come, and the fog and smoke of battle was lifted like a curtain, such a spectacle as this field of death presented to our eyes, I hope I may never witness again.  Here, indeed, was a Carnival of Death.  There must have been three thousand stiffened corpses lying in this little space, in full view. There may have been many more, I am sure there were no less.  In may places, they were in heaps, the ditch around the works, in some places, was filled with dead. Numbers lay where they fell, on top and on the sides of the embankment, and a few were found inside the works, shot and bayoneted."

         "I found poor Caniff and Wat Marnell; the former close up to the breastworks, the dead body of his horse being near by...Capt. Caniff was knocked from his horse by a shot in the right shoulder, and it must have been while lying on the ground, that he was struck in the top of the head, the ball coming out under the chin. My heart bled when I first stood over the rigid form of Lieutenant Crow; he was a kind, true friend and a perfect gentleman, as gentle and modest as a woman, and yet as brave as the bravest." [Lt. Wayman Crow, also of Co F, 5th Mo Infantry].

    Note: Cannif is spelled both with two "nn"s or with one "n" depending on various sources.


    Capt. Arthur McCoy,

    St. Louis' "Wild Irishman" of Shelby's Cavalry

         Arthur McCoy was one of the early leaders of the pro-secessionist "Minute Men" Militia in St. Louis. He along with four others (Rock Champion, Colton Greene, Basil W. Duke, and James Quinlan) early on March 4th 1861 had climbed the Federal courthouse of St. Louis, removed the U.S. Flag, and replaced it with the Missouri State flag. At the secessionist headquarters of the city, the Berthold mansion (located  at corner of Fifth and Pine Streets) they flew what has been called by some eyewitnesses as a "Confederate flag". However according to descriptions of the flag, this was not any flag being flown by the Confederacy. Colton Greene describes it as "a nondescript conceit--a red field, emblazoned with a white cross, star and crescent--made by Arthur McCoy's wife." Some sources have indicated that this flag was raised more for the purpose of a gag not anything to have been serious. Perhaps it was to taunt Gen. Lyon into doing something (they would not have to wait long since Camp Jackson was captured by Lyon on May 10 of that same year.)

         Capt. Arthur McCoy is best known for his service in the Confederate Cavalry but he did fight at Shiloh in the Missouri Infantry. On several occasions he rode into St. Louis fully armed, delivering the mail to the ladies of the city. On one occasion, he forced a Yankee Major, at gun point,  to dance to the tune of Dixie and on the same journey through St. Louis, challenged a Federal soldier, acting as a pickett at Benton Barracks, to a duel. To read more about these events, please visit our page on "Price's Last Raid".  During Price's 1864 raid, originally planned to invade St. Louis, Capt. McCoy rode in the vanguard of J. O. Shelby's cavalry and it is very likely he entered St. Louis county to gather military intelligence. During this same raid, McCoy fought alongside Jesse James at the Battle of Westport along the Big Blue river in western Missouri. (see above link for more on this).



     Father Patrick John Ryan
    "Spiritual Advisor of the Confederate POW"

    Father Patrick John Ryan was born Feb 20, 1831 in the town of Thurles of County Tipperary, Ireland. After his study at St. Patrick's College, Father Ryan arrived in St. Louis in 1852. Father Ryan was the Vicar General of St. Louis and Pastor of the "Old St. Louis Cathedral". In 1860 he helped create the Church of the Annunciation as well as the neighboring parochial school. It was under Father Ryan that John B. Bannon served as assistant pastor. Father Ryan was a known Southern sympathizer, but instead of leaving St. Louis to go into the Confederate Army, he was appointed  by Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick to be "spiritual adviser" for Confederate POWs at Gratiot Street Prison.  He refused a federal commission to be prison Chaplain, as it would decrease his effectiveness to be a "Federal" in his POW ministry.  He was also supportive of the ladies of the Confederate Aid Society as well as the secret Confederate mail network of the city.  Following the war, Father Ryan transferred to the Church of St. John the Evangelist where he served until 1884, when he departed for Pennsylvania. His departure from St. Louis was a sad occassion to all that knew him, Confederate veterans Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Known as a great orator, Father Patrick J. Ryan later became Archbishop of Philadelphia.

     Father Patrick J. Ryan's parish church,  the Basilica of St. Louis IX, King of France, more commonly called the  "Old Cathedral"  sits today near the base of the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis.  Originally a French congregation, it later became dominated by St. Louis Irish.


    Father Abram J. Ryan

    "The Poet Priest of the Confederacy"

    Born, 5 August, 1839 Hagerstown, Maryland;

    Died at Louisville, Kentucky, 22 April, 1886.

         Father A. J. Ryan, like Father Bannon, served as a Chaplain in the Confederate Army. Although not born in Ireland, he was the son of Irish immigrants (Matthew Ryan and Mary Coughlin of Clonmell, Ireland). As a young child he moved to St. Louis  where he was educated at Christian Brothers' Cathedral School, located immediately adjacent to the McDowell Medical College that would later become known as the infamous Gratiot Street Prison where Confederate POWs were held.  In preparation for the priesthood, Abram first attended St. Mary's of the Barrens Seminary in Perryville, Missouri. Later he went away to Niagara Falls, New York to attend Our Lady of Angels Seminary. After returning to St. Louis, Abram became ordained at priest on Sep 20, 1860. Due to health problems, and with prior commitments in both New York and Missouri, Father Ryan did not join the Confederate cause until September 1862 even though from the beginning he was an ardent Confederate. In 1863, his younger brother (David Ryan), also a Confederate,  was killed on the battlefield and which "deeply affected" him throughout his remaining life. He wrote the poems, "In Memory of My Brother", and "In Memoriam"about his beloved brother.

         At the wars end Abram was serving as a Confederate chaplain in Augusta, Georgia. Remaining in Georgia for a number of years in post war days, Abram worked as a pastor and writing his poetry. His master piece, "The Sword of Lee" after being put to music was sung in southern homes for generations.  Always on the move, Ryan served as a priest in Nashville, Knoxville, Clarksville (Tennessee) as well as Mobile, New Orleans and Macon (Georgia). As far as it is known, he never returned to St. Louis to stay for any duration. He worked in efforts to help southern children that were orphaned as a result of the war as well as assisting widows of Confederate soldiers. He gave lecture tours in Mexico, Canada and throughout the United States to drum up support for the relief of southern victims of recurrent plagues. In Mobile, Alabama  he served as assistant of the Cathedral and as a bishop's secretary. In retirement, Father Ryan moved to Biloxi, Mississippi where he developed an intimate friendship with Jefferson Davis who lived in nearby Beauvoir.   In his final days of life, Father Abram  Ryan visited the Franciscan monastery in Louisville, Kentucky. It was here he died on Apr 22, 1886. He was buried in Mobile, "where a monument has been erected by the children of the South through a dime collection which the Mobile Register newspaper promoted."

         Father Abram Ryan  was  loved throughout the South for his service and writings. TheCatholic Encyclopedia  (1913) states, "In the hour of defeat he won the heart of the entire South by his poem, Conquered Banner...Within the limits of the Southern Confederacy and the Catholic Church in the United States, no poet was more popular. After the war he exercised the ministry in New Orleans, and was editor of The Star, a Catholic weekly; later he founded  The Banner of the South  in Augusta, Georgia, a religious and political weekly; then he retired to Mobile. In 1880 he lectured in several Northern cities. As a pulpit orator and lecturer, he was always interesting and ... brilliant. As a man he had a subtle, fascinating nature, full of magnetism when he saw fit to exert it; as a priest, he was full of tenderness, gentleness, and courage."


    "The Prayer of the South"

    by Father Abram J. Ryan (published 24 Jun 1865)

    "My brow is bent beneath a heavy rod;
    Mv face is wan and white with many woes;
    But I will lift my poor chained hands to God
    And for my children pray, and for my foes.
    Beside the graves where thousands lowly lie
    l kneel, and, weeping for each slaughtered son,
    I turn my gaze to my own sunny sky,
    And pray, O Father, may thy will be done.

    My heart is filled with anguish, deep and vast;
    My hopes are buried with my children's dust;
    My joys have fled, my tears are flowing fast—
    In whom save thee, our Father, shall I trust?
    Ah! I forgot thee, Father, long and oft,
    When I was happy, rich and proud and free;
    But, conquered now and crushed, I look aloft,
    And sorrow leads me, Father, back to thee.

    Amid the wrecks that mark the foeman's path
    I kneel, and, wailing o'er my glories gone,
    I still each thought of hate, each throb of wrath,
    And whisper, Father, let thy will be done.
    Pity me, Father of the desolate.
    Alas, my burdens are so hard to bear;
    Look down in mercy on my wretched fate,
    An˘l keep me, guard me, with thy loving care.

    Pity me, Father, for His holy sake
    Whose broken heart bled at the feet of grief
    That hearts of earth, wherever they shall break,
    Might go to his and find a sure relief.
    Ah me, how dark! Is this a brief eclipse?
    Or is it night, with no to-morrow's sun ?
    O Father! Father! with my pale, sad lips
    And sadder heart, I pray, Thy will be done.

    My homes are joyless; and a million mourn,
    Where many met, in joys forever flown;
    Whose hearts are light, are burdened now and lore;
    Where many smiled, but one is left to mourn.
    And, ah, the widow's wails, the orphan's cries,
    Are morning hymn and vesper chant to me;
    And groans of men and sounds of women's signs
    Commingle, Father, with my prayer to thee.

    Beneath my feet, ten thousand children dead!—
    Oh, how I loved each known and nameless one!
    Above their dust I bow my crownless head
    And murmur, Father, still thy will be done.
    Ah. Father, thou didst deck my own loved land
    With all bright charms and beautiful and fair;
    But the foeman came and, with ruthless hand,
    Spread ruin, wreck, and desolation there.

    Girdled with gloom of all my brightness Shorn,
    And garmented with grief, l kiss thy rod,
    And turn my face, with tears all wet and worn,
    To catch one smile of pity from my God.
    Around me blight, where all was bloom;
    And so much lost, alas, and nothing won --
    Save this that I can lean on wreck and tomb.
    And weep and, weeping, pray, Thy will be done.

    And, oh, 'tis hard to say, but said, 'tis sweet;
    The words are bitter, but they hold a balm,
    balm that heals the wounds of my defeat
    And lulls my sorrows into holy calm.
    lt is the prayer of prayers - and bow it brings,
    When heard in heaven, peace and hope to me!
    When Jesus prayed it, did not angels' wings
    Gleam 'mid the darkness of Gethsemane.

    My children, Father, thy forgiveness need—
    Alas, their hearts have only room for tears—
    Forgive them, Father, every wrongful deed,
    And every sin of those four bloody years.
    And give them strength to bear their boundless loss,
    And from their hearts take every thought of hate;
    And, while they climb their Calvary with their cross,
    O help them, Father, to endure its weight.

    And for my dead, Father may I pray?
    Ah, sighs may soothe, but prayer shall soothe me more.
    I keep eternal watch above their clay—
    O rest their souls, my Father, I implore.
    Forgive my foes—they know not what they do—
    Forgive them all the tears they made me shed;
    Forgive them, though my noblest sons they slew,
    And bless them, though they curse my poor, dear dead.

    O may my woes be each a carrier dove,
    With swift, white wings, that, bathing in my tears,
    Will bear thee, Father, all my prayers of love,
    And bring me peace, in all my doubts and fears.
    Father, I kneel, ‘mid ruin, wreck, and grave—
    A desert waste where all was erst so fair—
    And, for my children and my foes, I crave
    Pity and pardon: Father, hear my prayer.



    By Father Abram J. Ryan

    Do we weep for the heroes who died for us,

    Who living were true and tried for us,
    And dying sleep side by side for us;
    The Martyr-band
    That hallowed our land
    With the blood they shed in a tide for us?

    Ah! fearless on many a day for us,
    They stood in front of the fray for us,
    And held the foeman at bay for us;
    And tears should fall
    Fore'er o'er all
    Who fell while wearing the Gray for us.

    How many a glorious name for us,
    How many a story of fame for us
    They left: Would it not be a blame for us
    If their memories part
    From our land and heart,
    And a wrong to them, and shame for us?

    No, no, no, they were brave for us,
    And bright were the lives they gave for us;
    The land they struggled to save for us
    Will not forget
    Its warriors yet
    Who sleep in so many a grave for us.

    On many and many a plain for us
    Their blood poured down all in vain for us,
    Red, rich, and pure, like a rain for us;
    They bleed -- we weep,
    We live -- they sleep,
    All lost, -- the only refrain for us.

    But their memories e'er shall remain for us,
    And their names, bright names, without stain for us;
    The glory they won shall not wane for us,
    In legend and lay
    Our heroes in Gray
    Shall forever live over again for us.

    Imprisoned Irish-Americans of St. Louis

         These are some of the citizens (all civilians) of the city that were imprisoned for their political convictions, aiding the Confederate cause in some manner, or were discouraging fellow Irish from joining the Union Army. A father or mother sending their son, a "care package" (food, warm gloves, or socks) if caught could be imprisoned for the duration of the war. These prisoners, except for the women, were held in the same cells as Confederate POWs at military prisons in the St. Louis area (Alton, Ill.; Gratiot Street; or Myrtle Street). The women listed here were mostly kept on a separate floor at Gratiot, but a few were held at the other prisons.  All these citizens were exposed  to the same cruelties as the Confederate POWs, and many died as a result of conditions and prison diseases. This was America under the Lincoln regime, which bragged they could put anyone, "with a ring of the bell", in a place "where they could not even hear the dogs bark". Only now are the true details of these crimes against democracy being released.

         Below are the names of civilian prisoners that I have identified as Irish. They are spelled the way the Federals recorded them. I did not include names that were also commonly non-Irish (like Brown), even though many Irish had surnames that could be also English or German in origin. There are also some names that could be either of Irish or Scottish origin, like those prefixed with "Mc", I did not attempt to sort them out since many of these names were common in both countries.


    F.G. Bradley
    Henry E. Bradley
    H.D. Brady
    Henry K. Boyd
    Michael Burk
    Daniel Burke
    Jno. E. Burke
    Michael Burke
    Peter Burke
    Thomas Burke
    John Burkes
    Jasper Byrne
    Patrick Byrne
    Daniel Callahan
    John Callahan
    James Carroll
    Lane L. Carroll
    Wm. Carroll
    Timothy Clancay (Clancy ?)
    Henry Collins
    Wm. M. Collins
    Terrence Connelly
    Christy Conner
    Peter Conner
    Thomas L. Conner
    John Conners
    Patrick Connor
    Kate Conway
    Martin Conway
    Wm. J. Corkery
    Peter Dailey
    Michael Daley
    Wm. Donahue
    John Donnlly
    Wm. H. Dougherty
    Michael Duffy
    Patrick Dugan
    Chas. E. Dunn
    George H.  Dunn
    Thomas Dunn
    John Egan
    Michael Fahey
    James Farrell
    Thomas Farrill
    Timothy Finagin
    Henry Fitzgerald
    Jas. Fitzgerald
    Michael Fitzgerald
    Patrick Fitzgerald
    Richard Fitzgerald
    Dennis Fogarty
    Wm. Fogarty
    John Gaffney
    Henry Gallagher
    Hugh P. Gallagher
    Peter Gallagher
    John Grady
    Patrick Grady
    Patrick Gury
    Tim. Kavanaugh
    Andrew Kelley
    Bridget A. Kelley
    Andrew Kelly
    James Kelly
    James A. Kelly
    James B. Kelly
    Michael Kelly
    Thomas Kelly
    James Kennedy, Sr.
    S. M. Kennedy
    Thos. Kinney
    Albert G. Leary
    Dennis Leary
    R.S. MacDonald
    Michall Maguire
    Thos. Mahan
    James Maher
    Michael Maher
    John Mahoney
    Pat. Mahoney
    Wm. Malone
    Thomas Maloney
    Timothy Maloney
    Annie B. Martin
    John Martin
    M. E. Martin
    Thos. J. Martin
    Thos. L. Martin
    Wm. Martin
    David R. McAualty
    Edward McCabe
    Patrick McCabe
    Wm. McCaffrey
    Joseph McCale
    Patrick McCarty
    Francis E. McClure
    Louis McClure
    Patrick McClusky
    Peter McConigal
    Wm. McCorkle
    James McCormick
    John McCormick
    Michael McCowan
    F. McCullough
    Joseph McDonald
    Phillip McDonald
    Pleasant McDonald
    Robert S. McDonald
    Wm. McDonald
    Wm. McDonough
    Michael McEnnis
    Thos. F. McEnnis
    Michael McFadden
    Jas V. McFillen
    Cornelius McGinnis
    John F. McGinnis
    Peter C. McGinnis
    Thos. McGovern
    James J. McGrath
    Geo. W. McGuire
    Wm. McGuire
    Thos. McHainy
    August McKennon
    Dr. H. J. McKillap
    Valentine McKinney
    Michael McLaughlen
    Hugh McMahan
    Bernard McMannaring
    Patrick McMarsh
    James McMurray
    Ellen McQuigg
    James McShane
    James O'Brien
    Laurence O'Brien
    Richard O'Brien
    Chas. J. O'Burne
    Pat. O'Connell
    Bernard O'Conner
    Michael O'Conner
    William O'Donnell
    Martin O'Gara
    James O'Hara
    John O'Hara
    Michael O'Malley
    M. J. O'Mally
    Henry O'Neal
    John O'Neil
    Martin O'Neil
    Michael O'Neil
    John O'Tool
    Wm. Ragan
    James Regan
    Patrick Reilly
    Peter Reilly
    Thomas Reilly
    Dan'l W. Rhea
    Anthony Riley
    Jos. F. Riley
    Mich'l Riley, Sr.
    Thos. P. Riley
    Andrew Ryan
    Dennis Ryan
    James Ryan
    John Ryan
    John M. Ryan
    John Scott
    Michael Shannon
    John Sheehan
    Gerald Walsh

    Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne

    "The Stonewall Jackson of the West"


     ***Note:  While Irish Americans were regarded as second class citizens in much of the North, they found full equality and acceptance in the  ranks of the Confederate Army. In fact, one Irish immigrant, Patrick Ronayne Cleburne who enlisted in the army as a private, rose to the rank of Major General before being killed at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Cleburne prior to the war was active in the Democratic party and spoke out against the constitutionality of "discriminatory legislation against Catholics and foreigners".

    On May 7, 1861 Cleburne stated, "...I believe the North is about to wage a brutal and unholy war on a people who have done them no wrong, in violation of the Constitution and the fundamental principals of the government. They no longer acknowledge that all government derives it's validity from the consent of the governed. They are about to invade our peaceful homes, destroy our property, inaugerate a servile insurrection, murder our men, and dishonor our women. We propose no invasion of the North, no attack on them and only ask to be left alone." Three days later, Nathaniel Lyon's federal forces illegally captured the Missouri State Guard at Camp Jackson in St. Louis, immediately followed by a massacre leaving men women and children dead. Facing this bleak outlook, Cleburne could have returned to Ireland but he declared he would stand up for his friends, as they "have stood up [for] me on all occasions." Cleburne became a hero to generations of Irish Americans and his statue stands in the American Museum of Immigration at the abase of the Statue of Liberty.

    Copyright 1998, Sterling Price Camp, No. 145,  Sons Of Confederate Veterans. All Rights Reserved
    The  MIDI file used on this webpage, entitled "Kelly's Irish Brigade" was custom made and is copyrighted,
    1998 by S. K. Williams, "The Borderland Collection". All Rights Reserved.