Who is it that is buried by that monument in Section A, Block 1, Lot 1? An Irishman named James Adalbert Mulligan. A man who led an interesting life prior to the Civil War, but whose war experiences were even more exemplary. I have to admit that in all my times at Calvary I hadn't paid much attention to that monument, but I am making up for it now by telling you the story of a man born to Irish immigrants who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country - but even more, earned the title of "A Christian Soldier."
While working in Washington he was at the forefront of events leading to the war, and therefore was among the first to enlist after the attack on Fort Sumter in April of 1861.
In June of 1861, the 23rd Illinois Voluntary Infantry Regiment was raised in Chicago, and young James Mulligan was offered the colonelcy. The Illinois 23rd was known as "First Irish" or "Mulligan's Brigade". He gladly accepted and in July 1861 left Chicago for the front. During the first month or two, the Brigade was actively engaged in Virginia and Missouri, until September, when it was ordered to the defense of Lexington, Missouri. At that point in the war, Lexington was threatened by a vastly superior force of the enemy under General Sterling Price. For nine days, Mulligan and his men held the town against heavy odds, praying for reinforcements. But no reinforcements were forthcoming, so after nine days of valiant fighting, Lexington fell. On September 20, 1861 at 2:00 in the afternoon Mulligan surrendered. Combined casualties were 64 dead, and 192 wounded. General Price was reportedly so impressed by Mulligan's demeanor and conduct during and after the battle that he offered him his own horse and buggy, and ordered him safely escorted to Union lines. Colonel Mulligan returned to Chicago and was lauded as the "Hero of Lexington."
Upon Mulligan's returned to Chicago, he reorganized his regiment. Then he embarked on a short lecture tour through the Eastern United States.
Colonel Mulligan's next assignment was commander of Camp Douglas, a prisoner of war camp at Chicago between February 25, 1862 and June 14, 1862.
|Camp Douglas at Chicago|
The camp had been constructed as a short term training camp for Union soldiers but was converted to a prisoner of war camp for captured Confederate soldiers after the fall of Fort Donelson, on February 16, 1862. One in eight of the prisoners from Fort Donelson died of pneumonia and various diseases. The camp had become infamous for its inhumane condition and large death toll. Upon taking command of Camp Douglas, Mulligan made efforts to improve conditions at the camp while trying to deal with an inadequate budget and bureaucratic indifference. He may have been influenced in his effort to improve conditions at the camp by his treatment by General Price after he was captured at Lexington, Missouri.
After his stint as commander of Camp Douglas, Mulligan was ordered with his regiment to New Creek, Virginia. During the remainder of 1862 and 1863, Mulligan and his brigade fought in the battles of Harper's Ferry, Moorfield, Greenland Gap, Gettysburg, Williamsport, Hedgeville, Petersburg Gap, and many other engagements.
Between August and December 1863, Mulligan oversaw the construction of Fort Mulligan, an earthworks fortification located in Grant County, West Virginia. Confederate Major General Jubal Early would later pay tribute to Mulligan's engineering skill after occupying the fort during his Valley Campaigns of 1864. This fort remains one of the best-preserved Civil War fortifications in West Virginia, and has become a local tourist attraction.
On July 3, 1864, only three weeks before his death, Colonel Mulligan distinguished himself in the Battle of Leetown, fought in and around Leestown, Virginia between Union Major General Franz Sigel and Confederate Major General Jubal Early. Federal troops were retreating in the face of Early's relentless advance down the Shenandoah Valley during his Second Valley Campaign. Hoping to buy time to concentrate Union forces and supplies, Sigel ordered Mulligan to hold Leestown for as long as humanly possible. The colonel was only allotted two regiments of infantry (including his old 23rd Illinois), five pieces of artillery, and 1,000 dismounted cavalrymen; he would face six Confederate infantry divisions, five brigades of cavalry and three battalions of artillery. Mulligan was told to expect no help whatsoever; he was to hold as long as possible, then conduct a fighting retreat as slowly as possible to cover the other withdrawing Union units.
Colonel Mulligan led his minuscule force out of their trenches, driving the attackers back upon the divisions of Generals Robert Rodes and Stephen D. Ramseur. Although the outcome of the battle was a foregone conclusion, Mulligan managed to hold Early's main force at Leestown for the entire day before being compelled to give way—albeit very slowly. Mulligan continued to battle Early all the way from Leestown to Martinsburg, Virginia, buying valuable time for Union commanders to concentrate their forces in the Valley.
On July 24, 1864, Mulligan led his troops into the Second Battle of Kernstown, near Winchester, Virginia. Late in the afternoon, Major General John B. Gordon’s Confederate force attacked Mulligan's 1,800 soldiers from ground beyond Opequon Church. Mulligan briefly held off Gordon's units, but Confederate Major General John C. Breckinridge, a former U.S. Vice President, led a devastating flank attack against the Irishmen from the east side of the Valley Pike. Sharpshooters under Confederate Major General Stephen D. Ramseur then attacked Mulligan’s right flank from the west. Now encompassed on three sides, the Union battle line fell apart.
With Confederates closing from all around, Mulligan ordered his troops to withdraw. As he stood up in his saddle to spur his men on, Southern sharpshooters concealed in a nearby stream bed managed to hit the Union commander. Mulligan’s soldiers endeavored to carry him to safety, but the unyielding Confederate fire made this an impossible task. Mulligan was well aware of his situation, and the danger his men were in, and so he famously ordered: "Lay me down and save the flag." Mulligan’s men reluctantly complied. Confederate soldiers captured Mulligan, and carried the mortally-wounded Colonel into a nearby home, where he died two days later.
Colonel James A. Mulligan was buried with full military honors on August 2, 1864. The New York Times carried a full account of Colonel Mulligan's funeral in their editions of August 7, 1864:
CHICAGO, Tuesday, Aug. 2. - The funeral of Col. Mulligan took place to-day, and was one of the largest and meet imposing spectacles of the kind ever witnessed in Chicago, second only to that on the occasion of the burial of Mr. Douglas. The day was beautiful, and our citizens generally, together with all branches of the city Government, a large number of civic societies, and a strong array of military, participated. It was a heartfelt tribute to one who was really loved for what he was in private life, as well as for what he had done in the field for our country.
The religious ceremonies took place in the Church of St.Mary, Catholic. An eloquent sermon was delivered by Dr. McMullen, a classmate and lifelong friend of the deceased. The procession, which took nearly an hour in passing a given point, was they formed and escorted the body, which was borne in a magnificent funeral car, to its resting-place in Calvary Cemetery.
During the services in the church Mrs. Mulligan fainted and remained a long time unconscious. The whole scene was affecting in the last degree. And thus we have "buried out of our sight" another of those gallant men who have gone forth from among us to battle and die for the flag we love so well.
At first, Col. Mulligan was buried under a simple government-issue headstone,