Richard Edmund Barrett (1862-1911)


David Barrett

USS Wachusett (1868) at Shanghai, China
Photo-Credit U.S. NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Barrett homestead at Cloonmore Rosscahill. The property was also once occupied by Frank Persse, brother of Lady Gregory
Photo Credit David Barrett
An older Barrett homestead in Cloonmore
Photo Credit David Barrett
A commissioned image of a carving on Richard Barrett's tombstone. This symbol is common on memorials of former sailors or bluejackets
Photo Credit David Barrett

Early Life

Richard Edmund Barrett was born at Cloonmore, Killanin, Co. Galway to Edmund Barrett and Nellie (Ellen) McDonough.
He was one of five children, the others being Peter (1840-1900); Margaret Carter (1845-1899); Michael (1858-1926); Patrick (1862-1931); the last unknown.

Move to United States of America

Richard departed for the United States about 1862, and was resident at Ulster County, New York, when he enlisted at the Naval Rendezvous in New York City on 18th June 1864 as a Landsman in the Union Navy.

Naval Career

Initially held on the holding ship USS North Carolina at the New York Naval Yard until he was transferred to the supply vessel USS New Berne on the 23rd July, 1864. He was transferred at sea to the USS Niphon on the 9th August, 1864. Saw action in the enforcement of the Atlantic Blockade of the Confederacy with particular emphasis on the Carolinas, with several engagements on land and at sea.
USS Niphon decommissioned at Boston on 1st December, 1864. Richard was held on the holding vessel USS Ohio in Boston Harbour and for a time was treated for pneumonia at the Naval Hospital, Chelsea. On recovery he was transferred to the United States Sloop of War, Wachusett on the 5th March, 1865. The Wachusett was appointed Flagship of the East Asia Squadron and sailed from the United States to Imperial Brazil and on to the South China Sea, in search for renegade Confederate vessels, such as the commerce raider CSS Shenandoah. The crew saw action in Shanghai and along the Yangtze, as well as in the Kingdom of Korea and Shogunate Japan, before returning to New York in January of 1868. Richard was discharged from the Union Navy on the 8th February, 1868.

Army Career

On the 12th/14th March, 1868, Richard enlisted in the United States Army. Initially trained at Fort Wood on Bedloes Island, now Liberty Island, he would serve as a Private in Company D of the 2nd United States Infantry. The regiment was dispatched to aid in the military governance of the old Confederacy during Reconstruction. Richard saw action in Alabama. He was invalided out after some 23 months service in February, 1870 at Summerville, Georgia. Two months later again at New York, on the 11th April, he would re-enlist as a Private in Company D of the 4th United States Cavalry.
Garrisoned at Fort Griffin, Texas at the advent of the Indian Wars, he was discharged from the Cavalry a year later again due to disability.

Life after the Military

He married a Sligo native, Bridget O’Connell, in 1883 at St James’ Church in Greenwich Village.  They would have two children, Mary Ellen born in 1885 would die two months before the birth of her brother Edward Francis in February 1887. Richard died of a heart attack on 5th Avenue on the 11th November, 1911, while working as a clerk in the United States Postal Service.

His son Edward Francis Barrett

His son Edward Francis Barrett would serve as a lawyer in the municipal department of New York City. He would move to Spokane in 1932, where he made an unsuccessful run for the Washington State House as a member of the Democratic Party in 1936. He died in 1938.

His Granddaughter Mary Barrett Sullivan

His granddaughter Mary, a journalist, would serve in the State Department’s Office of War Information during the Second World War and would follow in her grandfather’s footsteps in its operations in post-war and pre-communist Shanghai. She would marry Walter Seager Sullivan, the longtime science editor of The New York Times, where he worked for five decades. She was named to the Democratic National Committee in 1976 and was active in Connecticut Democratic reform politics for decades. She died in 2008.

This page was added on 16/07/2023.

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