November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Revolutionary St. Patrick's Day

Many people are unaware of the connection between George Washington and St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. So here's a little history to enrich your knowledge of the holiday.

Saint Patrick was a Roman-British Christian missionary and bishop known as the "Apostle of Ireland." According to his testimony in his Confessio, he was captured by Irish pirates from his homeland of Britian and brought to Ulster, Ireland as a slave at age sixteen.  He lived there for six years, looking after animals until his escape. He returned home and afterwards became a cleric. Upon having a vision, he returned to pagan Ireland to spread the word of Christ. He built his church and evangelized to the pagan people of the Island. It is believed that St. Patrick died on March 17th, thus the day that is celebrated as his feast day.

In Colonial America, the Irish population was second in number only to the English. These early Irish immigrants included the Scots-Irish of northern Ireland who left their country because of religious conflict. Charitable organizations sprung up in the colonies for the aid of the immigrants. In 1737, the Charitable Irish Society was formed in Boston by Ulster Presbyterian colonists. The Society of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1771. Many patriots were members of these societies. George Washington was an honorary member of  "The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick" and attended their first meeting, St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1771. Washington's ethnicity is mostly English, 1/8th Dutch, 1/32 French, with distant Welsh and Scottish. But he is also descended from Brian Boru, Last High King of Ireland (941-1014), famed as the most successful warlord king in Irish history.

Under Washington's direction as Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army approximately one third of those serving were Irish and Scots-Irish. Ireland was also a great support to the cause of liberty in the colonies by providing their financial support. Enlisted Irish were Protestants (mostly Scots-Irish) until Catholics were allowed to serve in 1778.

When the American Revolution began, Irish enlisted by the thousands. These stalwart men already bore the scars of striving against the British Empire for their independence in Ireland and now they were ready to defend the cause of liberty in America.  British troops had been occupying Boston for some time. When they set out to Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 to destroy the rebels, their Major Pitcairn proclaimed, "We will drive the Yankees and Irish to cover." When the British retreated back to Boston, militiamen contained the British to the city. Patriots left Boston and Loyalists joined them.

After an eleven month siege, General Washington decided to evacuate the British troops and Loyalists from Boston Harbor. To help fortify the plan, Irishman Henry Knox masterminded transportation of 60 tons of cannons through the snow that had been captured from Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point. On March 17, 1776, St. Patrick's Day, the British withdrew from Boston with little resistance, due to a harsh storm, which Washington called “interposition by Providence.” Washington set a password and countersign for safe re-entry into the city as “Boston” and “St. Patrick.”

During the harsh winter at Morristown, New Jersey of 1780,  in a place called Jockey Hollow, war worn soldiers were lacking provisions. Congress's resources were low and the roads were blocked due to the heavy snowy, more so than that endured during the winter at Valley Forge. They were hungry, poorly clothed, cold, and discouraged. Seven out of the eleven brigades there were commanded by generals born in Ireland or  had Irish parents. To boost the morale of the soldiers, who had not had a break in a year, General Washington issued an order on March 16th for a day of respite the following day . . . St. Patrick's Day. They even “enjoyed a hogshead of rum" purchased by their benevolent commander. A caveat was issued, however, that "The celebration of the day will not be attended with the least rioting or disorder."
“The general congratulates the army on the very interesting proceedings of the parliament of Ireland and the inhabitants of that country which have been lately communicated; not only as they appear calculated to remove those heavy and tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to restore to a brave and generous people their ancient rights and freedom and by their operations to promote the cause of America. Desirous of impressing upon the minds of the army, transactions so important in their nature, the general directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for tomorrow the seventeenth, a day held in particular regard by the people of the nation.”


In 1783, when American soldiers were taken by the British and kept in Ireland, Washington assured an association of Irish immigrants that "the Hospitality and Beneficence of your Countrymen, to our Brethren who have been Prisoners of War, are neither unknown, or unregarded." He held high esteem to the Irishmen who served for their new country. We, too, are grateful.

“America was lost through the action of her Irish immigrants.”
Lord Mountjoy to British Parliament

“The people of Ireland need that critical moment to shake off
the badges of slavery they have so long worn.”
Marquis de Lafayette

“On more than one occasion Congress owed their existence,
and America possibly her preservation to the fidelity and firmness of the Irish.” 
Major General Marquis de Chastellux

"When our friendless standards were first unfurled,
who were the strangers who first mustered around our staff,
and when it reeled in the fight who more brilliantly sustained
it than Erin's generous sons".
General George Washington

Best-selling inspirational romance author Carla Gade writes adventures of the heart with historical roots. Her maternal grandparents were from Ulster, Ireland and immigrated to Boston settling in New Hampshire in 1718.  


  1. Fascinating post, Carla! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Fantastic and intriguing history Carla. Thank you so much for compiling this. Lafayette and Washington’s statements gave me chills!

  3. It's funny how things change. The Irish came in legally and wanted to work and help defend this country. They were what America needed. God Bless Them.

  4. Love these historical nuggets! Thanks!

  5. Wonderful & interesting post Carla! Thanks for sharing.


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