Bay Ridge

Civil War Roundtable president to speak at Bay Ridge Historical Society

December 18, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thomas McCarthy, president of the Bay Ridge Historical Society, says guest speaker Michael Connors will be discussing Civil War generals Thomas Francis Meagher and Thomas William Sweeney. Photo courtesy of McCarthy
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As the nation continues its debate over reforming the country’s immigration system, the battlefield heroics of two 19th century Irish immigrants who became Union generals will be the major topic of discussion when a Civil War expert speaks at a meeting of the Bay Ridge Historical Society.

Lawyer Michael Connors, president of the Civil War Round Table of New York, will be the guest speaker at the historical society meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road at 7:30 p.m.

In his remarks, Connors will focus on Civil War generals Thomas Francis Meagher and Thomas William Sweeney, who was also known as “Fighting Tom Sweeny.”

“Their stories are truly amazing and I am sure you will enjoy the presentation immensely,” Historical Society President Thomas McCarthy wrote in an email to members. 

Thomas Francis Meagher (1823-1867), who came to the U.S. from his native Ireland in 1852, joined the U.S. Army at the beginning of Civil War and rose to the rank of brigadier general.  He led the Irish Brigade, a group of Irish-born Union soldiers and worked to garner support for the Union cause in the Irish-American community. After the war, Meagher was appointed acting governor of the Montana Territory. 

Thomas William Sweeny (1820-1892) was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War. He had enlisted in the Army in 1846 and served as a second lieutenant in the 2nd New York Volunteers. He suffered a devastating wound to his right arm during the Battle of Churubusco in the Mexican-American War. His arm had to be amputated. But his fighting spirit led fellow soldiers to give him the nickname “Fighting Tom.”

Sweeny went on to fight in many battles during the Civil War, including the Battle of Shiloh, during which he served as commander of a brigade. He later commanded the 2nd Division of the 16th Army Corps in Atlanta. He is buried at the Green-Wood Cemetery.

Connors is the founding partner in the law firm of Connors and Sullivan, which has offices in Bay Ridge and other locations throughout the New York. 

He is also well known for his radio show “Ask the Lawyer with Mike Connors,” which can be heard Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 970 AM and is repeated on Sundays AM970, which is repeated on Sundays at 6 p.m. 

Connors has received numerous awards over the years, including the Bay Ridge Community Council Annual Civic Award. He served as the grand marshal of the Bay Ridge Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in 2010. He served on the Governor’s Advisory Committee for the Aging for more than 15 and on the New York State Ethics Commission Public Advisory Council for more than six years. 

He is currently the judge advocate general for the Catholic War Veterans of America. 

For more information on the Bay Ridge Historical Society, visit


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