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Patrick Robert Guiney

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Guiney, PATRICK ROBERT, second and eldest surviving son of James Roger Guiney and Judith Macrae; b. at Parkstown, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, on January 15, 1835; d. at Boston, March 21, 1877. From his father’s people he inherited Jacobite blood, gentle and adventurous, with one French cross in it. James Guiney, impoverished and dispirited after an ill-assorted run-away marriage, brought with him on his second voyage to New Brunswick his favorite child, then not six years old. After some years, Mrs. Guiney rejoined her husband, lately crippled by a fall from his horse; a settlement followed in Portland, Maine, where the boy attended the public schools. Clever, studious, and a capital athlete, he matriculated at Holy Cross College, Worcester, but left before graduating, actuated by a scruple of honor entirely characteristic. His book-loving, sympathetic father having meanwhile died, he went to study for the Bar under Judge Walton, and was admitted in Lewiston, Maine, in 1856, evincing from the first a genius for criminal law. In politics he was a Republican. He won its first suit for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In 1859 he married in the old cathedral, Boston, Miss Janet Margaret Doyle, related to the distinguished “J. K. L.”, the Rt. Rev. James Warren Doyle, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. They had one son, who died in infancy, and one daughter. Home life in Roxbury and professional success were cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War. Familiar with the manual of arms, Guiney enlisted for example’s sake as a private, refusing a commission from Governor Andrew until he had worked hard to help recruit the Ninth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. Within two years (July, 1862), the first colonel having died from a wound received in action, Lieutenant-Colonel Guiney succeeded young to the command. He fought in over thirty engagements, and won high official praise, notably for courage and presence of mind at the battle of the Chickahominy, or Gaines’s Mill, Virginia. Here, after three successive color-bearers had been shot down, the colonel himself seized the flag, threw aside coat and sword-belt, rose white-shirted and conspicuous in the stirrups, inspired a final rally, and turned the fortune of the day. After many escapes, he was struck in the face by a sharpshooter at the Wilderness (May 5, 1864); the Minie ball destroyed the left eye, and inflicted, as was believed, a fatal wound. During an interval of consciousness, however, Guiney insisted on an operation which saved his life. Honorably discharged just before the mustering out of his old regiment, he did not receive his commission as brigadier-general by brevet until March 13, 1865, although throughout 1864 he had been frequently in command of his brigade, the Second, First Division, Fifth Corps, A. P. Brevet was then bestowed “for gallant and meritorious services during the War“. Kept alive for years by nursing and by force of will, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress on a sort of “Christian Socialist” platform, was elected assistant district attorney (1866-70), and acted as consulting lawyer (not being longer able to plead) on many locally celebrated cases. His last exertions were devoted to the defeat of the corruption and misuse of the Probate Court of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, of which he had become registrar (1869-77). He died suddenly and was found kneeling against an elm in the little park near his home, having answered his summons in this soldierly and deeply religious fashion, as he had always meant to do. General Guiney was Commandant of the Loyal Legion, Major-General Commandant of the Veteran Military League, member of the Irish Charitable Society, and one of the founders and first members of the Catholic Union of Boston. He was notable throughout a brief, thwarted career for the charm of his manner and his chivalrous ideals in public life. A good literary critic, he printed a few graphic prose sketches and some graceful verse.


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