Patrick Ginley MOH

b. 11/12/1822 Ireland. d. 05/04/1917 New York.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 25/08/1864 Reams Station, Virginia.

Patrick Ginley was born in Connaught, Ireland on 11th December 1822. He was possibly baptised at Aghanagh, County Sligo on 10th October 1823. Prior to his arrival in the US, he saw active service in the Crimean War participating at Balaklava, Inkerman and Sebastopol. On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857, he volunteered with the 18th Royal Irish Infantry and served throughout the insurrection. He was discharged from active service in 1858 in Aldershot, and in 1859 he emigrated to the United States.

After his arrival in the United States Patrick gained employment with Dr. Pierre Van Wyck, with whom he remained until the outbreak of the Civil War. With the arrival of the conflict and the need for experienced martial men, Ginley enlisted for three months in Company K of the 69th New York State Militia, fighting at the Battle of Bull Run. He then decided to join the 14th New York Independent Battery, enlisting for a period of three years. It was as an artilleryman that he spent the rest of his war service, fighting in fourty-four engagements involving the Army of the Potomac’s Second Corps. It was on 25th August 1864 that Patrick Ginley performed the actions that earned him the Medal of Honor.

Patrick Ginley’s actions were immediately noted by his superiors. Even Ulysses S. Grant was impressed. Speaking of Ginley, the Lieutenant-General in command of all Union forces had the following to say:

‘Private Ginley, it is not to-day nor to-morrow that you and every man undergoing the hardships of this war will be remembered by the country for his services. But every hero sooner or later receives his just reward. In this day of history making, when the deeds of individual valor are taking their places in the record of the War of Rebellion, when the records are in the hands of those at Washington who helped to make them, each individual act of heroism of which there is a record will be recognized.’ 

Captain A. Judson Clark, the commander of the artillery brigade also remembered Ginley in his official report. Writing on 18th October 1864, he remarked that at Ream’s Station ‘individual acts of gallantry were numerous, but when all were brave it were almost an injustice to speak of individual cases. I will only mention one, Private Ginley, G, First New York Artillery, who was acting as mounted orderly on the field. When the line was giving way he drew his saber and riding gallantly among the men succeeded in rallying a large number and taking them back into the fight.

Given the recognition his actions received at the time, it is perhaps surprising that Patrick Ginley received the Medal of Honor on October 31st, 1890.

After the war, Patrick Ginley spent two years as a watchmman at the United States public stores, before taking a job as a keeper in the notorious Sing Sing Prison. He eventually resigned this position to join the New York Police Department in 1869, where he was universally known around the streets of the city by his nickname, ‘Paddy The Horse’. He remained a man of courage, such as when he engaged in a desperate struggle with one Patrick Leary, who was attempting to kill his family at 629 East Ninth Street. Ginley eventually overcame Leary, who was sent to Utica Insane Asylum. Ginley received a gold watch and chain from citizens of the neighbourhood as a token of their appreciation. Perhaps his most famous arrest was a group of thieves who were robbing jewelry stores and gagging the occupants.

Paddy was a no-nonsense individual. On 16th June 1875, a young man shouted out as Ginley went by, ‘There goes Paddy The Horse’. He clearly didn’t like the smart bystanders tone, as Paddy grabbed the young man and dragged him into custody, although he was soon released. The man, who turned out to be a lawyer, subsequently complained about the episode. It was his problem with alcohol that eventually led to the end of his police career. In January 1883 Paddy was charged with intoxication by Captain McCullough of the 17th Precinct. Although he fought the decision to remove him from the force, by 1890 he was in a new job, working as a messenger in the Custom House.

The incredible career of Patrick Ginley took him through the Crimean War, Indian Mutiny, American Civil War and service with the New York Police Department. His life was not an easy one; even in later years he had to endure suffering, when his daughter died while only in her mid-twenties. He remained fiercely proud of his wartime career, and kept newspaper clippings which related to both his actions at Ream’s Station and his service with the Police Department. The Connacht man who had seen so much of the world eventually passed away on 5th April 1917. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Queen’s County, New York.



The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private Patrick Ginley, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 25 August 1864, while serving with Company G, 1st New York Light Artillery, in action at Reams’ Station, Virginia. The command having been driven from the works, Private Ginley, having been left alone between the opposing lines, crept back into the works, put three charges of canister in one of the guns, and fired the piece directly into a body of the enemy about to seize the works; he then rejoined his command, took the colors, and ran toward the enemy, followed by the command, which recaptured the works and guns.