It was coincidence only that Evacuation Day in Boston and St. Patrick’s Day fell on the same date.  No one appreciated this concurrence more than George Washington who surrounded himself with officers of Irish birth, an whose army was estimated to be at least 48% Irish born Catholics.  It was noted that the Commander-in-Chief made “St. Patrick” the password for his troops on March 17, 1776.  It was on that day that the British evacuated Boston forever.  What has dimmed the admirable record of the Irish achievement in the Revolutionary War was the gradual evolution of, and general acceptance of, the myth that New England Irish patriots were actually Scotch Irish descendant of the Scottish Presbyterians who had been replanted in the land seized for rich landlords by the British government.  There were thousands of Irish Catholics — who lacking priest and their own church – were forced to use whatever church was available.  Their names and deeds are consequentially recorded in Protestant church archives.  Ironically, transplanted Scots actually considered themselves “Irish” on this side of the Atlantic.

In John Starks Unit alone of the New Hampshire Regiment that fought at Bunker Hill[1], there were forty men born in Ireland and fifty-three whose parents came from Ireland.  Matthew Thornton of Derry, New Hampshire, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Limerick in 1714.  From all parts and in particular New England, volunteers with unmistakably Irish names joined the fight. OF the fifty-four casualties listed on the memorial tablets at Bunker Hill, twenty-two were Irish.  When the Revolutionary War was over, Tory Galloway testified to the British House of Commons that the American Army had been comprised of “Scarcely one-fourth Native Americans, about half Irish, and the others were Scots and British.” It was coincidence only that Evacuation Day in Boston and St. Patrick’s Day fell on the same date.  No on e appreciated this concurrence more than George Washington who surrounded himself with officers of Irish birth, an whose army was estimated to be at least 48% Irish born Catholics.  It was noted that the Commander-in-Chief made “St. Patrick” the password for his troops on March 17, 1776.  It was on that day that the British evacuated Boston forever.  What has dimmed the admirable record of the Irish achievement in the Revolutionary War was the gradual evolution of, and general acceptance of, the myth that New England Irish patriots were actually Scotch Irish descendant of the Scottish Presbyterians who had been replanted in the land seized for rich landlords by the British government.  There were thousands of Irish Catholics — who lacking priest and their own church – were forced to use whatever church was available.  Their names and deeds are consequentially recorded in Protestant church archives.  Ironically, transplanted Scots actually considered themselves “Irish” on this side of the Atlantic.

TRANSCRIBED from a poster hung in the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston.



[1] Actually, Breeds Hill


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Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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