J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Maguire Brothers Find Each Other

Last month I quoted a letter from a provincial officer describing how a deserter from the British garrison at Boston discovered his brother in the American camp.

Brendan Morrissey, who actually wrote the book called Boston 1775 from Osprey Publishing, as well as Saratoga 1777 (at left), reminded me of a similar incident from the end of Gen. John Burgoyne’s push down into New York from Canada.

This anecdote comes from Roger Lamb’s An Original and Authentic Journal of Occurrences during the Late American War, published in Dublin in 1809. At the time he described, Sgt. Lamb and a few thousand more British troops had just surrendered at Saratoga.

During the time of the cessation of arms, while the articles of capitulation were preparing, the soldiers of the two armies often saluted, and discoursed with each other from the opposite banks of the river, (which at Saratoga is about thirty yards wide, and not very deep,) a soldier in the 9th regiment, named Maguire, came down to the bank of the river, with a number of his companions, who engaged in conversation with a party of Americans on the opposite shore.

In a short time something was observed very forcibly to strike the mind of Maguire. He suddenly darted like lightning from his companions, and resolutely plunged into the stream. At the very same moment, one of the American soldiers, seized with a similar impulse, resolutely dashed into the water, from the opposite shore.

The wondering soldiers on both sides, beheld them eagerly swim towards the middle of the river, where they met; and hung on each others necks and wept; and the loud cries of “My brother! my dear brother!!!” which accompanied the transaction, soon cleared up the mystery, to the astonished spectators.

They were both brothers, the first had emigrated from this country, and the other had entered the army; one was in the British and the other in the American service, totally ignorant until that hour that they were engaged in hostile combat against each other’s life.
No other news on what happened to the Maguires.

3 comments:

Sean said...

I believe they were on opposite banks of the Fish Kill (or Creek) and not the Hudson River to avoid confusion - the lines between the two armies include both the river and creek.

Sean Kelleher
Historian of Saratoga, NY
Lexington Minute Men

slskenyon said...

That's amazing. What a fabulous description. The theme of reunion after or duing unrest in American History would make a great book in and of itself, if someone looked into it.

Eagle said...

That's an amazing story. Too bad there's no more information on the Maguires.