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Patrick Thornton was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1842, but little is known of his life prior to his induction into the U.S. military.   When at 22 years of age however, on May 13, 1861, Thornton enlisted at New York City into the 36th New York Infantry.   On June 17, 1861 he was mustered into Company D, as a Private. The 36th Regiment of Infantry was then known as the "Washington Volunteers".

The 36th New York State Volunteers was a unique fighting force, comprised largely of Irishmen and New York Britons.   It was a colourful group known for its antics and in-fighting, but nevertheless made important contributions to the Union cause; participating in battles at Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.

 

The 36th New York State Volunteers was first proposed on April 22, 1861 by a 39 year-old businessman named Charles H. Innes.   Innes was a devoted family man and restaurant owner who lived in Manhattan.  Innes opened a small recruitment headquarters for his proposed regiment near his home, and appointed a friend and business associate, Nathaniel Finch, a Major.   Nathaniel Finch was not a well man and kept a physician, Swiss doctor Louis D. Radzinsky on call round the clock. When Major Finch decided to go to war, he was so concerned about his health, that he persuaded Dr. Radzinsky to sign up with him; so that the doctor would always be close at hand!

They called their tiny headquarters "Union Hall," and their recruitment ads began with: "Our country calls, obey we must/And hurl secession in the dust." The ad went on to say, "A Regiment is now forming for the service of the United States. All young men who feel desirous [sic] of serving their country in this critical hour have an opportunity of displaying their patriotism and sustaining the Stars and Stripes by enlisting at 'Union Hall', 16th-st and 9th-av". The regiment being recruit was first called "Colonel Innes' regiment". By May 4th Innes had scraped together some eight hundred recruits and since the regiment would be defending the nation's capital, he labelled it "The Washington Volunteers".  Colonel Innes had no barracks for his men but when there were enough recruits, Innes moved his headquarters to 93-95 Sixth Avenue, an area well-known for affordable lodging houses and began to make inquiries about a barracks; which never came about.

When the state was notified of the regiments recruitment efforts and its numbers, The state promptly accepted the Washington Volunteers as an official regiment; to be mustered in to service on May 8th. When May 8th came, however, only five hundred of the eight hundred men enlisted arrived up for federal inspection. Most had long ago given up on Innes, abandoned him and joined other regiments. With only five extant companies the Washington Volunteers seemed a dead regiment, but the opportunity to combine the Washington Volunteers with the New York British Volunteers brought about the formation of the new Regiment.  

The regiment was created by the  merging of two struggling New York regiments that had failed to enlist enough volunteers to fulfil troop strength. The two understaffed units were known as "The Washington Volunteers" and "The New York British Volunteers", and once the two were merged to comprise a full regiment, the new regiment was designated as the 36th New York State Volunteers and the nickname "The Washington Volunteers" stuck with them. The thirty-sixth regiment was quartered at Riker's Island, where they had perhaps the best accommodations of any regiment encamped in the vicinity. The officers, however,  had to quarter and feed their men for many weeks before they were mustered into the State service, without any assistance other than $1,500 received from the Defence Committee. $3,000 had been promised by the government, but it never came.

 

The 36th Infantry Regiment was officially organized at New York City and mustered in on June 17, 1861. It left New York for Washington, D.C. on July 12yh and was attached to Couch's Brigade, Division of the Potomac until October 1861. It was then attached to Couch's Brigade, Buell's Division, Army of the Potomac until March 1862, the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac until September, 1862 and to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps until June, 1863.

The 36th saw service in the defence of Washington, marched to Prospect Hill, Virginia and on to the Peninsula on March 28th, Participated in the Siege of Yorktown and the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5th, the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31st where he was wounded in battle on June 1, 1862, and the 36th was the last to leave the field, the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1st where Thornton was again wounded when as part of a small detachment of Company D he, along with Sergeant John Alcock, were sent to the vanguard to engage in hand to hand combat with the 14th North Carolina;  the 36th made a charge on the 64th North Carolina Regiment taking from them their stand of colors and sixty-eight prisoners, the Battle of Antietam from September 16th to the 17th, the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 15th to the 17th and ended up at Deep Run Ravine from June 5th through the 13th. The 36th Regiment had been the first to cross the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge in advance of the Army and its colors were the first to be planted on Mary's Heights at the storming of Fredericksburg.

They were then ordered home to be mustered out, with the three years enlistment men being transferred to the 65th New York Infantry Regiment. The 36th Regiment had lost 1 officer and 36 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and another 4 officers and 26 enlisted men who died from disease. Mustering out for Thornton occurred on July 15, 1863 following the 36th NY's deployment to the New York City Draft Riots.

Having been mustered, Thornton immediately reenlisted on July 28, 1863, but this time not into the Infantry, but into the U.S. Navy as a landsman; and served aboard the USS “North Carolina” until August 13.

The USS “North Carolina” was a ship of the line, meaning it could hold the line of battle in conflict, hence the name ship-of-the-line. Later, it was shortened to the term “battleship”.

 

It was the first of seven new ships approved by Congress and the three-masted square-rigger “North Carolina” was considered the terror of the seas. . Her keel was laid in 1818 in the Philadelphia Navy Yard where she was built and she was launched in 1820 after being "fitted out" in the Norfolk Navy Yard. She was considered the most powerful vessel afloat in her day when commissioned in June 1824.

From April 1825 until May 1827, the “North Carolina” served in the Mediterranean fleet as Commodore John Rogers flagship and served as a flagship again in South America in May 1837. Her immense size limited ports she could service, so she returned to the New York Navy Yard and served as a receiving ship for new sailors until 1866; where Thornton boarder her.

Thornton then transferred aboard and served on the USS “Pensacola” until February 29, 1864. The “Pensacola” was a screw steamer launched by the Pensacola Navy Yard on  August 15, 1859 and commissioned on December 5, 1859. It was then towed to the Washington Navy Yard for the installation of machinery; decommissioned on January 31, 1860 and  recommissioned on September 16, 1861 with Capt. Henry W. Morris in command. It departed Alexandria, Virginia on January 11, 1862 for the Gulf of Mexico to join Flag Officer Farragut's newly created West Gulf Blockading Squadron. She steamed with that fleet in the historic dash past Confederate forts St. Philip and Jackson which protected New Orleans on April 24th and the next day engaged batteries below New Orleans. On the 26th, a landing party from the “Pensacola” raised the Union flag over the mint at New Orleans, Louisiana.

During the next two years, she helped guard the lower Mississippi, returning to New York Navy Yard, after Thornton had left her service,  where she was decommissioned on April 29, 1864 for the installation of new and improved machinery.

After leaving the “Pensacola” Thornton boarded and served aboard the “Stockdade” until July 26, 1864 and then aboard the “Corypheus”, a yacht built at Brook Haven, New York in 1859.

It was seized under orders of Gen. M. Lovell of the Confederate States Army and outfitted as a Confederate gunboat which operated in Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, near New Orleans, Louisiana.   On  May 13, 1862 a cutter from USS “Calhoun” sailed into Bayou Bonfuca and captured the gunboat.

 
Following an appraisal the gunboat was purchased that month from the Key West prize court for $14,724 and promptly put onto the service of the  Union Navy,  where she was assigned tender duty for the bark “Arthur” off Aransas Pass in Texas, on June 12, 1862 under the commanded of Acting Master A. T. Spear.

Operating off Corpus Christi, Texas on  August 12, 1862 the “Corypheus” participated in the capture of the armed schooner “Breaker” and destruction of the “Hannah” and the “Elma” by their own men. While returning to Aransas Bay she captured the blockade runner “Water Witch”.

Arriving at Galveston, Texas on  December 28, 1862, the Battle of Corpus Christi occurred and  the “Corypheus” participated in the Battle of Sabine Pass on January 1, 1863;  fighting valiantly amid a rain of fire from Confederates when the Union force withdrew. Admiral D. G. Farragut wrote of her officers and crew that they acted with uncommon coolness and great courage, keeping up their fire for the protection of the soldiers on shore, and when ordered to abandon their vessel, preserved and safely extricated their ship although left entirely by themselves except for the “Sachem”. Confederate guns were firing at the “Corypheus” while a shell from the gunboat “Sachem” exploded near the Confederate infantrymen, who were moving to oppose the federal landing party. Sailors in the landing party had fired already their howitzer at rebel infantry, as Confederate cavalry prepared to charge the federal position. Two U.S. ships, the “Belle Italia” and the “Reindeer”, all the while, moved in to rescue the landing party.

Her next duty was on Lake Pontchartrain, near New Orleans, where she was assigned to prevent small-craft traffic crossing between New Orleans and the coastal waters.   The “Corypheus” was still there when Thornton received his discharge on August 17, 1864.

 
Having been born in Dublin, Ireland, Thornton returned to Ireland for a short time following his discharge, but was again in the United States by 1870; and again reenlisted, into the 19th U.S. Regular Infantry Regiment on November 19, 1870.   He was mustered into Company A by Major Hambright at Port Jackson, Louisiana, for a period of five years and spent much of his time working in a hospital caring for patients, while recovering from injuries he had himself received.  He had fallen through rotting wharf timbers while on guard duty at Fort Phillip, injuring his kidneys and his  left eye.  After having served only 2 years, 5 months and 25 days of a five year enlistment, Thornton was discharged at Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 14, 1873.
 
After his release, Thornton ended up spending time in both Texas and California, before deciding to make his way to Australia. Eventually sailing from the U.S. Thornton arrived in Melbourne, Victoria then made his way to Sydney, New South Wales; between 1893 an 1896. Applying for an invalid pension Thornton was eventually granted a sum of $30 (US) a month, with which he bought land in Balmain, New South Wales; where his brother William Thornton lived. He had returned to Sydney by 1898, but upon his death his residence was recorded as still being in Balmain. According to medical records, Patrick Thornton died at the age of 63 of “chronic nephritis and pyelitis of 12 months duration”. Chronic nephritis is a chronic inflammation of the tissues of the kidney and is frequently associated with a slow, progressive loss of kidney function. Pyelitis, likewise, is an inflammation of the renal pelvis, the central part of the kidney where urine accumulates before discharge and is caused by bacterial infection. Both likely to have brought on by his injury at Fort Phillip. According to public records, Patrick remained unmarried, but financially independent.
 
Upon his death Thornton left his entire estate, amounting to some $4,000 to $5,000 (U.S.) to the U.S. Government; the U.S. Consul at Sydney, Mr. Orlando H. Baker, being the executor.  Upon further examination, Mr. Baker ascertained Thornton owned at his death three parcels of land in the area of Balmain, on which each had a small cottage worth some 625 pounds.  He also had in local banks the sum of 257 pounds 21 shillings and household furnishings worth 6 pounds 2 shillings; for a total of some 888 pounds 14 shillings or $4,324.85 American.

Appraisals were made the entire estate by a valuator, or appraiser, appointed by the government of New South Wales. As instructed by Thornton in his will, all of his debts were paid and his land was retained in repair and rented out by Thornton’s lifelong agent. It was stated the property was held until property values had risen, then it was suggested it be sold and the money used to construct a Consular residence in Sydney; to be owned by the U.S. Government.

Patrick Thornton was buried at Waverly Cemetery, in South Head General Cemetery, in New South Wales.

 
It was discovered in 1991 that Patrick Thornton’s gravesite had remained unmarked, even though the U.S. Consul was supposed to have had a stone made for it.   Consul Orlando Baker’s unfilled duty of providing a stone, as prescribed in Patrick Thornton’s will, was brought to the attention of the Consulate in Sydney. As a result, on June 19, 1992, the 88th anniversary of Patrick Thornton’s death, a special ceremony was held at his graveside to dedicate a stone provided by the American Veterans Administration in Washington DC; and to honour a loyal Civil War veteran.
 

OFFICERS OF THE 36th. NEW YORK

Field   Non-Commissioned Staff
Colonel - Chas. H. Innes   Sergeant-Major -  Geo. H. Moore
Lieutenant-Colonel - T. J. Lord   Quartermaster - Sergeant, C.H. Roberts
Major - Nathaniel Finch   Drum-Major - Eugene L. Twiggs
Staff-Adjutant - Wm. G. Ulshoeffer   Fife-Major - John Badmoch
Quartermaster - James W. Winter   Hospital Steward - Jos. A. Christie
Paymaster - Samuel Osgood   Color Sergeant - Robert Jones
Surgeon - Dr. Moseley   Right Guide - J.D. Phillips
Assistant Surgeon - Louis D. Radinsky   Left Guide - Geo. H. Peters
Chaplain - E.D. Winslow    
 

Line

xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx   xxxxxxxxxxxx   xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx
         

Captain

 

1st Lieutenant

 

2nd Lieutenant

 

Company A Elihu J. Faxon   L. H. Briggs   Ed. Armstrong  
Company B James A. Raney   T. Donoghue   J. Lewis  
Company C Wm. H. Bennett   James Hostin   Hy. N. Martin  
Company D J. L. Daniel   James Grant   A. Finch  
Company E F. M. Quackenbos   G.V.S. Robinson   H.R. Howlett  
Company F Gustavas Dupins   Chas. A. Dumoulin   T.H. Browning  
Company G J G. Atwood   R. Jackson   R. H. Patterson  
Company H John Mason   D.W. Murphy   Geo. W. Farr  
Company I W. Darwent   A. S. Chappell   H. B. Hughes  
Company K J. J. Walsh   A. J. Pigot   J. Miles  
 

Col. Innes served throughout the Mexican campaign with Gen. Scott, having been in every battle fought during the war. He was the first to plant the American flag on the heights of Chepultepec. He was breveted Major by the State on his return and received a medal the battles in which he was engaged.

Lieut.-Col. Lord served many years in the British army.

Capt. Walsh was a Crimean officer who served in the Turkish and Indian wars.

Capt. Raney served throughout the Mexican war.
Capt. Daniel was been many years in the English service.
Capt. Atwood was prominent in the attempt to seize the Canadian Provinces in 1837-38.  

Capt. Darwent was a British officer,

Adjutant Ulshoeffer was a member of the 7th, and served in the Washington expedition.

Lieut. Pickett served in the Crimean, Indian and Chinese wars.

Lieut. Armstrong was in the Crimean war, and was one of the Light Brigade in the charge of the "six hundred" at Balaklava.

Lieut. Finch served in the Mexican war.

Lieut. Chappell had been in the English army.

Lieut. Miles served in the English army.

Quartermaster was a Mr. Martin.

Quartermaster-Sergeant was a Mr. Roberts.

 

“Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships”

History of the 19th U.S. Infantry, Excerpts from “The Nineteenth Regiment o

       Infantry, First Lieut. Charles H. Cabaniss, Jr., 18th U.S. Infantry”

 Report of the Adjutant General, New York

 U.S. Consul Dispatches, 1900 – 1908, Sydney, Orlando H. Baker

U.S. Consular Service, Washington, D.C.

“New York Times”, April 24, 1861 -  “New York Times”, May 5 & 6, 1861

Special Orders No. 300, J. MEREDITH REED, Adjutant-General

 “US Warships from the Revolution”  -  Waverley Cemetery Records

36th New York State Volunteers - 36th Regiment Infantry "Washington Volunteers"

 

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