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Attorney documents Irish ancestor’s Civil War sacrifice

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Kevin Murray grew up hearing his grandmother tell of his great-great-grandfather’s valor. But only recently did Murray come to fully appreciate his ancestor’s sacrifice.

Charles Murray emigrated from Ireland’s County Donegal and had been in Indiana just three years when he answered the call to volunteer and fight to preserve the Union in the Civil War. He lost his life in 1863, dying from wounds he received resisting a Confederate charge at the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee.
 

irish-murray-15col.jpg Frost Brown Todd LLC attorney Kevin Murray stands near a Celtic cross at St. John’s Church in Indianapolis commemorating the legacy of Irish people who settled in Indiana. Murray has written a history of the 1st Irish Regiment of Indiana whose members, including his great-great grandfather, fought for the Union in the Civil War. (IL Photo/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

Kevin Murray, an attorney at Frost Brown Todd LLC in Indianapolis, finds wonder at the core of his research into his great-great grandfather and fellow countrymen who took up the Union cause. “This was a group of people that had just come to this country, and they were willing to die for it,” Murray said.

Murray’s research is compiled in “The 1st Fighting Irish: The 35th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.” It’s a dab of family history and a salute to a largely unsung fighting force also known as the 1st Irish Regiment of Indiana. The book combines records of the unit’s battles with colorful profiles of its leaders and soldiers.

“For some reason, I’ve always had this utter fascination with the Civil War,” Murray said.

The 1st Irish played key roles in major battles in Kentucky and Tennessee that repelled Confederate advances in the early years of the war, Murray explained. Later, the regiment was on the front lines of Union advances that took Atlanta before Sherman’s March crippled the rebellion.

The 1st Irish volunteered even as Irish Catholics faced starvation and oppression in their homeland and institutional discrimination in their adopted country. Murray documents the historical context in the opening chapter, “American Slavery and Irish Hunger.”

Among those Murray writes about is a young drummer whose photograph Murray remembers seeing as a boy on visits to the Civil War museum at Monument Circle in Indianapolis. The drummer turned out to be Abraham Springsteen, who had lied about his age to enlist as the 1st Irish’s drummer boy. He was 11.

Murray said the 1st Irish was distinguished by its green kepis that earned the regiment its nickname, “The Green Caps.” The 35th Indiana’s colors included such Irish-inspired imagery as a shamrock and harp.

Beyond the family oral history, Murray got the first hard information about his ancestor from a monsignor who was able to provide some historical data that Murray compiled into a thin family volume in the 1980s. Even so, precious little exists about Charles Murray beyond what’s available in the National Archives.

“We don’t even know where he’s buried,” Murray said. He believes Charles Murray and some of the other fallen from the 1st Irish likely are in Holy Cross Cemetery on Indianapolis’ near-south side. A fire resulted in the loss of many of the cemetery’s records, Murray explained.irish-factbox.jpg

That’s also why Holy Cross was an apt place to raise a memorial to the 35th Indiana. It was erected in the past several years, as more people through genealogical research have discovered connections to the regiment.

“We, as the Irish community, wanted to come together to memorialize the 1st Irish Regiment,” Murray said. A commemoration and wreath-laying will take place March 15 just ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.

Joining Murray there will be a company of re-enactors that organized about 15 years ago years ago as more learned about the role the 1st Irish played in the war.

“The 35th of Indiana really hadn’t been researched until the late 1990s,” said Brian Henry of Frankton, who holds a master’s degree in military history and co-founded the 35th re-enactors group. “Now more is coming out, and especially with Kevin’s book, it’s going to open the door to a lot more people.”

Along with re-enactments, Henry said members also make presentations to historical societies and other groups, “to educate people about the Civil War, especially through the eyes of the Irish.”

During the ongoing sesquicentennial of Civil War events, “There’s been a new resurgence of people wanting to understand who they were and what they did.”

Like Murray, Henry also traces his great-great grandfather, George Carroll, to the 1st Irish. A native of County Wicklow, Ireland, Carroll had settled in Terre Haute before the war and returned to live there until he died in 1900.

Henry also knows what happened at the Battle of Stones River. He describes a unit defending its position on a ridgetop behind the front line. Soldiers of the 1st Irish literally laid in wait.

As Confederates launched an all-out assault on Union forces after days of confused skirmishes, Col. Bernard Mullen commanded his 1st Irish forces to lie down and fix bayonets. On Mullen’s order, the regiment rose as one and opened fire on the advancing rebels in what became fierce, close combat.

Henry said the action surprised the South, and the 1st Irish was able to reload and fire another volley into the side of the Confederate line. But the 1st Irish paid a high cost – nearly a third of the regiment suffered casualties that day before Union artillery overwhelmed and drove back the rebels.

As rebels had pressed the assault, Mullen commanded his forces to retreat. “He said he had the honor of having to give the order twice,” Henry said. “That’s where Kevin Murray’s ancestor was wounded.”

Murray includes in the book Mullen’s account after the war of the 1st Irish’s mettle at Stones River: “Where 272 men stand unflinchingly, for 43 minutes, a combined fire of musketry and artillery at close range, it is certainly hard to give anyone a pre-eminence for gallantry.”

Murray is keeping his ancestor’s memory alive just as his great-grandfather John did when he wrote that Private Charles Murray of the 1st Irish was “enamoured of freedom and opposed to everything that found favor with England.” Murray said Irish fighters in the Civil War aspired to use their experience to liberate their homeland from British rule.
 

irishbook-15col.jpg “The 1st Fighting Irish: The 35th Indiana Volunteer Infantry” by Frost Brown Todd LLC attorney Kevin Murray tells the story of “Hoosier Hibernians in the War for the Union.”

Murray maintains a bungalow home in County Donegal, and family members raise livestock on the rocky, rugged landscape. Murray described his first trip to his ancestral homeland decades back like going home to someplace he’d never been.

His support of Irish-American causes is a tribute to his father, A.F. “Kelly” Murray, to whom “The 1st Fighting Irish” is dedicated. Murray previously wrote a book about his father’s service in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

Kelly Murray came home and served as an Indianapolis firefighter, losing his life in 1978 after a heart attack at age 53. In tribute to his dad, Murray wrote that his father told him from his hospital bed to go study for his upcoming bar exam. His father was gone the next morning.

Murray muses about maybe someday writing about his father’s lifesaving work running into burning buildings as a firefighter. Or maybe he’ll write about his grandfather, also named Charles, who was a doughboy in World War I. They’re people with inspiring stories of serving their country – the old one and the new one.

“We accomplished and did well in this country,” he said of Irish-Americans. “But I don’t think we should forget who we are.”•

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  • FYI Grant Man the Historian
    Grant Man FYI the historian - one of our attorney in our Indy office...
  • cool story
    Liked this article. Long time Indiana resident Father Corby gave encouragement to Irish Cat troopers at Gettysburg (88th NY?) who died like flies at the Wheatfield. Irishmen made up a big part of the redcoats (British infantry) in the 18th and 19th century too. They've been good at dying for other nation's "causes." I heard a slogan once, "rich man's war, poor man's fight." I have read about the 1863 Detroit race riot and the New York draft riots. Seems like a large number weren't all that keen on the situation, overall. But, nowadays we always lionize the Union, and demonize the South, so let's just paper over all that kind of stuff.

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  1. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  2. A high ranking bureaucrat with Ind sup court is heading up an organization celebrating the formal N word!!! She must resign and denounce! http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

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The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. 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Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. 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The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

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