Mayor Reed Finds Place For Friendly Sons Monument
By William F. Kennedy
Mayor Stephen R. Reed of Harrisburg has designated an alternative site for a
Revolutionary Ware monument donated by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Philadelphia
The monument commemorates Thompson's Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, the first
major unit of what is now the US Army. The battalion was organized by Col.
William Thompson of Carlisle, a native of County Meath. Later, as the First
Continental Regiment, it was led by Colonel, later Major General Edward Hand of
Lancaster, a native of what is now County Offlay. Both were members of the
Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Philadelphia.
The majority of the battalion as a whole also were Irish immigrants or the
sons of Irish immigrants.
There is at present no monument in Harrisburg's Capitol City to the Pennsylvanians
who fought in the Revolutionary War.
Mayor Reed had intended the monument to be placed at the point in Riverfront
Park where the Western Pennsylvania units of Thompson's Battalion came ashore
from the ferry operated by John Harris, founder of the city. The younger John
Harris was killed in action as a member of Thompson's Battalion in the failed
American attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775.
placement of the monument has been blocked in the past two years by the Harrisburg
Public Arts Advisory Board, which has statutory authority separate from the
Mayor's. The Arts Board's position is that military memorials are only fit for cemeteries.
"An alternative site may well be in the median area of State
Street," Mayor Reed wrote in a letter to Robert J. McFann of Camp Hill,
"... in a direct sight line from ... the Main Capitol Building."
That would be more prominent site than the one originally designated.
Robert McFann is a founder of both the Bobby Sands Dauphin County Division
No. 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and of the Michael Collins Cumberland
County Division No. 1.
A World War II B-25 navigator/bombardier in the China-Burma Theater, Mr.
McFann contacted Mayor Reed in support of a letter sent to Governor Ridge by
former US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen.. Michael J. Dugan, president of the
Thompson Battalion Memorial Project. asking Governor Ridge to find a place for
the Friendly Sons monument on the Capitol grounds.
Once the monument is put in place, a plaque will be added honoring the two
heroic Thompson Battalion wives who accompanied their husbands on the Quebec
expedition. One was killed by enemy fire while participating in the siege of the
city. The other was killed by accidental discharge of an American firearm. They
are now recognized by the Women in the Military Service Memorial at Arlington
National Cemetery as the first women to have given their lives in the US
funds are being sought for the purchase of that plaque and for a statue of a
Pennsylvania Rifleman to be placed on the monument. Contributions are
tax-deductible. They should be made out to "Thompson Battalion
Memorial Project" at P.O. Box 478, Wiscasset, Maine 04578.
August 1999 - Irish Edition