Tag Archives: General O'Neill

Fenian Military Officer Shoulder Boards

General John O’Neil in his Fenian Uniform circa 1867. He would later lead another failed Raid into Canada in 1870 wearing this same officer’s uniform.

General John O’Neill, Irish Republican Army circa 1867, later he was the President of the Fenian Brotherhood (Roberts/Senate Wing). Note O’Neill wears the United States pattern officer’s frock coat however the shoulder boards are Fenian Sunburst (An Gal Gréine) signifying the officer as a General in the Irish Republican Army.

The Fenians copied the United States uniform mostly in style, since there was so much discounted surplus from the Civil War, however the Fenians did make minor changes and Fenian Brotherhood Military Regulations were laid down regarding the uniform of commissioned officers in the Irish Republican Army.

Officers were to wear a frock of dark green cloth, black trousers, black hat, and a sash of green silk. A major general wore shoulder boards of two sunbursts in silver, a brigadier general only one sunburst, a colonel wore a Phoenix in silver (replacing the US Eagle for a rising Phoenix). A lieutenant colonel wore a shamrock leaf in silver, and a major, shamrock leaf in gold it is unclear what the background color was however it likely followed the branch of service similar to the U.S. military.

General O’Neill being captured by US Marshal, General George Foster during the Fenian Raid of May 1870. O’Neill is wearing the Irish Republican Army Officers uniform as his square belt buckle clearly shows the initials I.R.A. (Irish Republican Army)
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, June 11, 1870