“I now bid farewell to the country of my birth – of my passions – of my death; a country whose misfortunes have invoked my sympathies – whose factions I sought to quell – whose intelligence I prompted to a lofty aim – whose freedom has been my fatal dream.” –Thomas Francis Meagher
Death by drowning of Thomas Francis Meagher, Fenian, Irish nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848. With his fierce Irish nationalism, Thomas F. Meagher managed to get himself into difficulties on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in County Waterford, he opposed British rule and was exiled to Tasmania in 1849. He fled to the United States in 1852, eventually settling in New York, where he was active in the Irish independence movement. When the Civil War started, he was instrumental in forming the Irish Brigade, which fought so valiantly in numerous conflicts including Chancellorsville, Fair Oaks and Fredericksburg. Meagher was a brave leader and loved by his men who ultimately fell foul of Ulysses S. Grant ironically because of his drinking. When the war ended, he was appointed Acting Governor of Montana. He drowned in the Missouri River near Fort Benton on 1 July 1867. His body was never recovered.