Col. Michael Corcoran’s Account of His Capture

16 12 2008

The New York Times, August 11, 1861


The Manner Of His Capture By The Rebels.

Richmond, Va., July 29, 1861.

Dear Wife: I wrote a letter to Capt. Kirker a few days since acquainting him of my being in close confinement here, also Capt. McIvor and Lieut. Connolly, with about 37 other officers and 600 non-commissioned officers and privates from various regiments, among whom are Sergeants Murphy and Donnohue and 35 privates of my regiment.  They are all in good health.  I was very ill for the first two days after my arrest, but feel quite well at present.  I am deeply affected at the loss of Acting Lieut. Col. Haggerty, who was among the first who fell on the battlefield, and also several of my brave soldiers.  It is, however, consoling that they attender their religious duties before that day.  I had many hair-breadth escapes, but God in His infinite mercy has been pleased to preserve me.

I am uneasy to know the fate of many officers and members whom I had not seen in line immediately after the battle, among them are Capts. Thomas Francis Meagher and Cavanaugh, and Acting-Adjutant (late Captain) John H. Nugent.  My regiment came off the field in admirable order, and were on the road to Centreville, where I halted to rest and await orders for future action, knowing that our artillery would need protection in returning.  Two regiments that had not been in line and were returning in disorder, hung on my flank, and when the cavalry were seen advancing toward us, these regiments broke precipitately through my lines, throwing us into disorder, and caused a general flight.

I dismounted and crossed a rail fence, over which they had gone, and got the color bearer to halt, and called on the men to rally around the flag, but just at this moment a discharge of carbines from the pursuing cavalry and our own artillery drowned my voice, and destroyed all my efforts to muster the men.  I had only nine men who heard me an halted, and those, with two officers and myself, were immediately surrounded and taken to Manassas that night.  We left there the following morning, and arrived here Tuesday night.  Lieuts. Bagley and Gannon, with two Colonels, one Lieutenant-Colonel and other officers and privates of various regiments, arrived here this morning.  Some of our wounded have also been brought here, but I have not yet learned their names.  Give my love to your [?], William, Capt. Kirker and all friends.

Your affectionate husband,

Michael Corcoran

The New York Times, August 12, 1861


Another Letter From Col. Corcoran

Richmond, Va., July 24, 1861.

Capt. James B. Kirker:

My Dear Captain – I know you will regret to hear of my being here a prisoner of war.  The circumstances connected with the affair are easily told.  My regiment was twice engaged during that hard contested fight on the 21st utl., and left the field with the thanks of Gen. McDowell for their services.  I brought them off in admirable order, having formed a square, to defend against the cavalry who were advancing.  I moved in the square until reaching a wood, having to pass through a defile, and over very broken ground.  I had to march by a flank until I reached the road, where we got mixed up with two other regiments, who were retiring in disorder.  I soon ordered a halt to connect our line, and scarcely had the command been given, when the cavalry of the enemy, were seen advancing, and immediately the other regiments went over the rail fence into the field, and mine with them.  I dismounted (my horse being wounded) and followed into the field, took the colors and called out to rally around it.  My voice was drowned amid the roar of the cavalry carbines and the discharge of artillery; consequently only two officers, Capt. McIver and Lieut. Connolly, with nine privates, were all I had.  This delay caused our arrest.  The cavalry surrounded us at a small house which I was about to use as a means of defence, and made prisoners of my gallant little band.  Many others were made prisoners in the same field and immediate vicinity, who had fallen down from exhaustion, making a total of prisoners from the Sixty-ninth of thirty-seven, who are all here, and a list of whom I send that you may publish for the information of their friends.

We lost many a brave and manly spirit on that day, which fills me with the deepest sorrow.  My beloved acting Lieutenant-Colonel – Haggerty –  was the first who fell; and I am fearful about Capt. Meagher, who acted as major, as I have not seen him since the fight, nor any person who could give me any information.  My imprisonment is deeply embittered from the want of knowledge of the fate of my beloved soldiers since my last sight of them.

There are about forty officers here, amongst whom are Capts. Manson and Farrish, Lieut. Irwin, John Whyte; Ives and Campbell, of the Seventy-ninth; Lieut. Gordon, Second United States Dragoons; Drs. Powers and Connolly, of the Second; Drs. Norval and McKletchy, of the Seventy-ninth; Lieut. Goodenough, of the Fourteenth Regiment, of Brookly, and Capt. Griffin, of the Eighth New-York.

There are about six hundred prisoners in this building belonging to different regiments – the Second, Eighth and Seventy-first, New-York, and Fire Zouaves.  I send you some lists; publish them for the benefit of their friends.  Give my love to Mrs. Corcoran and all friends, and believe me your sincere and affectionate friend,

Michael Corcoran

Colonel Sixty-ninth N.Y.S.M.

List of Names  

  • Captain, James M’Iver.
  • Lieutenant, Edmund Connolly.
  • Color Sergeant, John Murphy.
  • Sergeant, Wm. O’Donohue, Company K.


  • James Kane, Co. K.
  • Daniel Cassidy, Co. K.
  • Patrick Dunn, Eng. corps.
  • John Cottow, Eng. corps.
  • Thos. McGuire, Eng. corps.
  • Jas. Gaynor, Eng. corps.
  • Edw. Sweeney, Eng. corps.
  • Jer’h. Castigan, Co. D.
  • R. H. Fitchett, Co. E.
  • James McNulty, Co. F.
  • Stephen Conner, Co. G.
  • James McRorty, Co. G.
  • Thomas Dunbar, Co. G.
  • John Gaffney, Co. A.
  • Thomas Brown, Co. A.
  • Wm. Moore, Co. B.
  • John Kerr, Co. B.
  • James McGinnis, Co. B.
  • John Nugent, Co. B.
  • Wm. Joyce, Co. B.
  • John McNeil, Co. B.
  • Maurice D. Walsh, Co. B.
  • Patrick Logue, Co. C.
  • Patrick Blake, Co. C.
  • Wm. Nulty, Co. C.
  • James McCarrick, Co. C.
  • Edward McGrath, Co. H.
  • Charles King, Co. H.
  • Geo. McDisney, Co. H.
  • Jer’h Sullivan, Co. H.
  • John Owens, Co. H.

Prisoners of Second Wisconsin Regiment

  • Serg’t Frank Dexter, Co. A.
  • Robert Welsh, Co. A.
  • E. C. Marsh, Company A.
  • Nathan Heath, Co. A.
  • J. M. Hawkins, Co. B.
  • S. P. Jackson, Co. B.
  • Joseph Froine, Co. B.
  • Robert Burns, Co. B.
  • —-Marshall, Co. B.
  • Henry Rhode, Co. C.
  • Thomas Brookens, Co. C.
  • A. Jones, Co. D.
  • John Hamilton, Co. D.
  • Andrew Brun, Co. D.
  • Hugh Murray, Co. D.
  • H. Stroud, Co. E.
  • Wm. Taylor, Company E.
  • Henry Weed, Co. E.
  • L. Perry, Company E.
  • Stephen Graham, Co. E.
  • Hutle Henry, Co. F.
  • David O’Brien, Co. G.
  • J. P. Christie, Co. G.
  • Serg’t. Holdridge, Co. H.
  • C. Trowbridge, Co. H.
  • Serg’t. J. Gregory, Co. J.
  • W.P. Wmith, Co. J.
  • Geo.W. Dilly, Co. J.
  • Fred Bune, Co. J.
  • S. H. Hagadorne, Co. K.



6 responses

16 10 2011
- Euro Style

[…] array of vignettes and characters. The newsboy is hawking portrait prints that feature the image of Col. Michael Corcoran, who led the regiment. The man on horseback is Thomas Francis Meagher, an Irish nationalist and […]


26 04 2012
Terry Corcoran

Thank you, everybody involved with this project. I believe that it is VERY important for future generations to have easy access to the resources such as this site. I am always fascinated by the stories of our heroes, especially those of whom I am related to….

Terrence James Patrick Corcoran, MPA, U.S. Army Retired


26 04 2012
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks Terry, from all of us (that would be me.) Always glad to hear from descendants!



26 11 2013

Thank you for posting this, it really helped me out on my AP History paper


26 11 2013
Harry Smeltzer

You’re welcome, Taylor.


6 03 2015
A New Flag Flies Over Castle Pinckney | Bull Runnings

[…] Here is a list of the 69th’s prisoners that their colonel, Michael Corcoran, sent home from Richmond. There are three from Co. K. No telling if any of them wound up at Pinckney. […]


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