Photo: Members of 69th NYSM

16 04 2020

Reader Matt Regan has provided this image of members of the 69th New York State Militia, post battle, as officers in the later-formed Irish Brigade. Photo IDs are per Mr. Regan.


L to R, Pvt. Peter Kelly (Co. I), Pvt. James McKay Rorty (Co. G), and Sgt. William O’Donohue (Co. K), as officers of units in the Irish Brigade, post Bull Run and 69th NYSM

These three were captured at First Bull Run, and subsequently escaped and returned north together, as recounted by Rorty here.

The photograph is in the possession of Mr. Regan’s family. Kelly is Mr. Regan’s “great-uncle.” He was commissioned in Co. K, 69th NYVI. Rorty, as discussed here, was commissioned in the 14th NY Independent Battery, as was O’Donohue. Rorty was KIA at Gettysburg, O’Donohue KIA at Chancellorsville (with Battery C, 4th US Artillery) and Kelly resigned in 1862.

Here’s some more research into the photo by reader Jason Cheol Spellman.

Peter Kelly at

Peter Kelly at Fold 3

Peter Kelly Bio

James Rorty at

James Rorty at Fold 3

James Rorty at FindAGrave

James Rorty Bio

William O’Donohue (as William O. Donohue) at

William O’Donohue (as William O. Donohue) at Fold 3



3 responses

17 04 2020
Steve Reilly

If I’m not in error, Colonel Flynn, who is in Kuwait, great uncle was in “K” Company, was that not Captain Meagher’s Company? His uncle was a 2nd Lt under Captain Meagher and later KIA at Cold Harbor.


17 04 2020
Harry Smeltzer

Steve, Co. K, in the 69th NYSM, was attached to the regiment prior to going to Virginia, and was under Capt. Meagher’s command. During the battle, Meagher was acting major of the regiment. But, keep in mind that there was also a company K in the 69th NYVI, formed independently of the militia unit, after the battle. As concerns Peter Kelly, he was in Co. I of the militia regiment, put Co. K of the volunteer infantry regiment. The bio of Rorty to which I linked gets this wrong, I think, describing both Kelly and O’Donohue as being in Meagher’s Co. K. There, that should be clear as mud.


3 12 2020
More on that Photo of James McKay Rorty | Bull Runnings

[…] I attach said legwork right here. I’ll also attach it to this post I made a while back about the photo. […]


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