Note: I’m indebted to McQuade descendants Hugh T. McQuade and John M. Hayes for their assistance in putting this entry together.
Hugh McQuade was born in Ireland in 1832. His parents immigrated to New York several years later. He had at least one elder brother, John, who later became a contractor and official of Tammany Hall in New York City.
Hugh enlisted in the Regiment of Mounted Rifles on August 11, 1851. He served in the regiment for the next ten years, as a private, corporal, sergeant and finally first sergeant of Company F. He was commended for his conduct during an expedition against the Navajo Indians in October 1858.
McQuade was also one of the original appointees as an officer of the newly-authorized 3rd U.S. Cavalry. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the regiment on May 14, 1861. He never joined his regiment, however. On June 3, 1861, he received a commission as a captain in Company F, 38th New York State Volunteers (“Scott Life Guard”). The regiment was raised in New York City.
McQuade’s regiment fought on the Union right at the battle of Bull Run in July, eventually supporting Griffin’s battery. Possession of the guns changed hands several times during vicious fighting. The regiment’s commander during the battle, Lieutenant Colonel Addison Farnsworth, reports “The brave Captain McQuaide, while cheering on his men, fell from a severe wound in the leg” and “subsequently fell in to the hands of the enemy” (OR, Ser I, Vol 2, pg 416).
Captain McQuade’s leg was later amputated, and he remained in Confederate custody in a Richmond prison. He was deemed too ill to survive the exchange process, and in November reported “not expected to survive wounds received at the battle of Manassas (OR, Ser II, Vol 2, pg 132).
During the trial of the crew of the Confederate privateer Enchantress, Captain McQuade was initially one of the Union officer prisoners held as hostages against the execution of the rebel crew as pirates. Acting Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin later ordered wounded officers exempted as hostages. (For an excellent account of the Enchantress incident, see Ranger John Hoptak’s excellent blog post here)
On December 24, 1861, Hugh’s brother John McQuade petitioned the New York City board of aldermen “requesting the President of the United States, if not incompatible with the public interest, to take measures for the release of Capt. Hugh McQuade, of the regular army, now confined as a prisoner at Richmond.” The petition would be too late, however, as Hugh died two days later as a result of his wounds on December 26, 1861.
The 6th Cavalry, meanwhile, never realized what had happened. He wasn’t listed on the regimental muster rolls until December 1861, when he was assigned as a second lieutenant in Company B and listed as whereabouts unknown. This continued until July 1862, when he disappeared from the rolls without comment.
Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903), page 681.
Henry, Guy V. Military Record of Army and Civilian Appointments in the United States Army, Volume II (New York: D. Van Nostrand Publishing, 1873), pg 146.
Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, as noted within text.
New York Times, December 24, 1861.
Muster Rolls, 6th U.S. Cavalry, NARA, M744