Patrick Robert Guiney (Parkstown, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, on 15 January 1835 - Boston, March 21, 1877) was an American Civil War soldier.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

He was the second and eldest surviving son of James Roger Guiney, who was descended from Jacobites, and Judith Macrae. James Guiney, impoverished after a failed runaway marriage, brought with him on his second voyage to New Brunswick his favourite child Patrick, then not six years old. After some years, Mrs. Guiney rejoined her husband, recently crippled by a fall from his horse; a settlement followed in Portland, Maine, where the boy attended the public schools. He matriculated at Holy Cross College, Worcester, but left before graduating. His book-loving father having meanwhile died, he went to study for the Bar under Judge Walton, and was admitted in Lewiston, Maine, in 1856, becoming involved in criminal law.

In politics he was a Republican. For the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, he won its first suit. In 1859 he married in the old cathedral, Boston, Janet Margaret Doyle, related to the Rt. Rev. James Warren Doyle, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. They had one son, who died in infancy, and one daughter. Home life in Roxbury and professional success were cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War.

Civil War[edit | edit source]

Familiar with the Manual of arms, Guiney enlisted for example's sake as a private, refusing a commission from Governor John A. Andrew until he had worked hard to help recruit the Ninth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. Within two years (July, 1862), the first colonel having died from a wound received in action, Lieutenant-Colonel Guiney succeeded Young to the command. He won high official praise, notably for courage and presence of mind at the Battle of the Chickahominy, or Gaines's Mill, Virginia. Here, after three successive color-bearers had been shot down, the colonel himself reportedly seized the flag, threw aside coat and sword-belt, rose white-shirted and conspicuous in the stirrups, inspired a final rally, and turned the fortune of the day.

Guiney fought in over thirty engagements, including the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of Chancellorsville.

The 9th Massachusetts was present at Gettysburg in second brigade first division V Corps on July 1, 1863. Col Jacob B. Sweitzer the brigade commander, detached Guiney's regiment for picket duty. Consequently, the regiment missed the second day's fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg.

After many escapes, he was struck in the face by a sharpshooter at the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5, 1864); the Minié ball destroyed his left eye, and inflicted, it was believed, a fatal wound. During an interval of consciousness, however, Guiney insisted on an operation which saved his life. Honourably discharged just before the mustering out of his old regiment, he did not receive his commission as brigadier-general by brevet until March 13, 1865, although throughout 1864 he had been frequently in command of his brigade, the second, first division, Fifth Corps. His brevet was bestowed "for gallant and meritorious services during the War".

Postbellum[edit | edit source]

Kept alive for years by nursing, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress on a sort of "Christian Socialist" platform, was elected assistant district attorney (1866–70), and acted as consulting lawyer (not being longer able to plead) on many locally celebrated cases.

His last exertions were devoted to the defeat of the corruption and misuse of the Probate Court of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, of which he had become registrar (1869–77). He died suddenly and was found kneeling against an elm in the little park near his home. General Guiney was Commandant of the Loyal Legion, Major-General Commandant of the Veteran Military League, member of the Irish Charitable Society, and one of the founders and first members of the Catholic Union of Boston. He also published some literary criticism, a few graphic prose sketches and some verse.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Commanding Boston's Irish Ninth: the Civil War letters of Colonel Patrick R. Guiney, Ninth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, ed. Christian G. Samito, New York: Fordham University Press, 1998.

External links[edit | edit source]

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