Old Cathedral Cemetary Gravestones
April 26, 2022
The number of 69th soldiers who have received a VA headstone on their previously unmarked “final resting places” increased to 103 as the members of the reenacting regiment met at Old Cathedral Cemetery in West Philadelphia on Sunday April 24th. Members assembled at 9:00 am as music of the 69th band played on the cemetery circle and as we met descendants. Captain Michael Ernsberger called the men to order at 9:30 am and brevet 1st Sergeant Kyle Schaeffer lined the men up to walk to the first of the three new gravestones. Adjutant Don Ernsberger read the biography of each man. Each of these “heroes” fought with the 69th at the Stone wall at Gettysburg and each suffered battlefield wounds during the war. Two were captured in battles. Color Sergeant Dave O’Daniel provided a prayer as the soil from Ireland was dropped upon their graves. Our ladies in turn placed the flag of Ireland on their now finally marked burial location. As we usually do each time we visit Old Cathedral we ended our program with a return to the grave of Colonel Dennis O’Kane…. The first marker we laid back at the start of our gravestone project in 1996.
The continuity of the 69th was highlighted by the family of our beloved recently departed William Meehan as his daughter (Janet Meehan Gallagher) attended the ceremony with her husband and proudly watched as their son in law Al Colbourne fired volleys as a new 69th soldier. Beautiful weather greeted the entire gathering as our three soldiers finally had a marker placed on their graves. Following the ceremonies at Old Cathedral Cemetery, a delegation of 69th soldiers and ladies drove to nearby Holy Cross Cemetery to participate in the yearly “Joseph McGarrity Parade and Services”. The 69th plays a role each year as Philadelphia Irish groups assemble to honor several men who played a role in the movement for Irish Independence. This year Captain Michael Ernsberger was asked to have the 69th play a very special role in the event. The 69th color guard and ladies would lead the procession of hundreds of participants from grave to grave. Upon arriving at each site, the 69th contingent would stand at the grave and after our Captain first placed “Irish Soil” at the gravestone would fire a volley over the stone. Thus a great honor was given to the “69th Irish Volunteers”.
CAPTAIN JOHN J DEVLIN (Co. E) – Wounded right elbow at Glendale. Wounded left hand November 1864 SERGEANT DENNIS BRADLEY (CO K) Wounded at Antietam. Wounded at Gettysburg. SERGEANT GEORGE MULHOLLAND (Co. F) Captured at Gettysburg. Imprisoned in Richmond. Died after release of Typhoid Fever in Union Camp City Point.