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Samuel McCaul was born on May 9, 1842 in Newry, County Doron, Ireland. According to the Adjutant-General’s Records for New York, McCaul enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 14, 1862 for a period of three years at Devonport, Delaware County, New York. He was mustered in as a private in Company I, 144th New York Infantry on September 27, 1862.

On August 27, 1862, Col. Robert S. Hughston received authority to recruit a regiment in Delaware county; it was organized at Delhi, New York and mustered in for three years on September 27, 1862 and designated the 144th New York Infantry. The 144th left New York for Washington DC on October 11, 1862 and served in defense of Washington from October 13th until April 1863 when it was ordered to Suffolk, Virginia and participated in the siege of Suffolk during April and May. In June and July of that year the company participated in Dix’s Peninsula Campaign until it was ordered back to Washington on July 10. In August 1863 the 144th moved to Folly Island, South Carolina and took part in the sieges of Fort Wagner and Fort Gregg on Morris Island, and further operations against Fort Sumter and Charleston until September. It remained in that locality until it was ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina in January 1864 and from there to Jacksonville, Florida in February. It remained garrisoned at Jacksonville until June, when it returned once more to Hilton Head.

From there it followed the expedition to Johns and James Island in an assault against Charleston, from July 2nd through the 10th and operations against Battery Pringle on July 9, 1864. That November the 144th accompanied Hatch’s expedition up Broad River and took part in the Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina on November 30, 1864. Leaving Hilton Head on November 28, a Union expeditionary force under Maj. Gen. John P. Hatch steamed up the Broad River in transports to cut the Charleston & Savannah Railroad near Pocotaligo. Hatch disembarked at Boyd’s Landing and marched inland. On November 30, Hatch encountered a Confederate force of regulars and militia under Col. Charles J. Colcock at Honey Hill. Determined attacks by U.S. Colored Troops, including the 54th Massachusetts, failed to capture the Confederate entrenchments or cut the railroad. Hatch retired after dark, withdrawing to his transports at Boyd’s Neck. Casualties amounted to 796 Union and 50 Confederate; making it a definite Confederate victory.

From there it moved to Bolan Church, South Carolina, Boyd’s Landing and was engaged again at Deveaux’s Neck. After that it ended back up at Hilton’s Head where McCaul was mustered out of service on June 25, 1865 at Hilton Head, South Carolina. The regiment, however, took the steamer “Fulton” back to New York where it was mustered out on July 13, 1865. The regiment lost 2 officers and 37 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 4 officers and 174 enlisted men who died from disease.

McCaul, after the war, resided in Michigan until 1868, when he returned to Ireland for three months, before sailing for Australia. Not much is known about him after arriving, but in 1904 he applied for a U.S. military pension, from the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum at Carlton, Australia, where he was an inmate. He was but one of some mant patients there, most of whom were bed ridden. For the previous four years McCaul had been treated for rheumatism and heart problems at the Melbourne Hospital and had remained a bachelor all his life, never marrying.

The Bureau of Pensions was advised, in March 1915, that Samuel McCaul had been confined to the Hospital for the Insane at Kew, Victoria, Australia under the protection of the Master of Lunacy. The pension of $30 a month he had been receiving was stopped when he died at the Hospital for the Insane at Kew at age 78 of “cystis and pyelonephritis” on December 23, 1917. Samuel McCaul was buried on December 26, 1917 in the Coburg Cemetery, Presbyterian Section, grave number 589 which was owned by Mr. James McIntosh. In 1993 a bronze plaque was provided by the American Veterans Administration in Washington DC and was placed on his grave in recognition of his military service.

Other McCaul’s buried in the same cemetery include Elizabeth McCaul who died at age 99, located at Roman Catholic Compartment M Grave 2843, buried on September 29, 1932; .Margaret Jane Neilson (McCaul) who died at age 66, located at Roman Catholic Compartment M Grave 2843, buried in 1939; Leslie John McCaul who died at age 52, located at Roman Catholic Compartment T Grave 4425, buried on July 13, 1953  and Muriel Francis McCaul who died at age 42, located at Roman Catholic Compartment T Grave 4425., buried on February 12, 1945.

“Back in war times,” history of the 144th regiment,
New York volunteer infantry, James Harvey McKee
Bureau of Pensions, Washington, D.C.
Coburg Cemetery Records - Military Induction Records
“Compendium of the Rebellion”, Frederick H. Dyer
“New York in the War of the Rebellion”, Frederick Phisterer. 1912
Regimental Histories, 144th New York Infantry
Report of the Adjutant-General, New York - Victoria State Archives


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