Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HALPINE, Charles Graham, writer, born in Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland, 20 November, 1829; died in New York city, 3 August, 1868. His father, Reverend Nicholas J. Halpine, was for many years editor of the "Evening Mail," the chief protestant paper of Dublin. The son was graduated at Trinity college, Dublin, in 1846. It was his original intention to study medicine, but he preferred the law, meanwhile writing for the press. The sudden death of his father and his own early marriage compelled him to adopt journalism as a profession, and his versatile talents soon gained for him a reputation even in England. In 1852 he came to New York city with his family, secured employment on the "Herald," and in a few months had established relations with several periodicals. His remarkable talents made it possible for him to undertake a great variety of literary work, most of which was entirely ephemeral. He had previously resided in Boston, where he was assistant editor of the "Post," and also established with Benjamin P. Shillaber (Mrs. Partington) a humorous journal called the "Carpet Bag," which was unsuccessful. Later he was associate editor of the "New York Times," of which he had been Washington correspondent, and the celebrated Nicaragua correspondence at the time of Walker's expedition was written by him for that journal. He also continued his relations with the Boston " Post," and in 1856 became principal editor and part proprietor of the New York "Leader," which under his management rapidly increased in circulation. He also contributed poetry to the New York "Tribune," including his lyric "Tear down the flaunting lie! Half-mast the starry flag!" which was attributed to Horace Greeley. At the beginning of the civil war he enlisted in the 69th New York infantry, in which he was soon elected a lieutenant and served faithfully during the three months for which he volunteered. When the regiment was ordered to return home, he was transferred to General David Hunter's staff as assistant adjutant-general, with the rank of major, and soon afterward accompanied that officer to Missouri to relieve General Fremont. Major Halpine received the commendation of officers that had been educated at the United States military academy as one of the best executive officers of his grade in the army. He accompanied General Hunter to Hilton Head, and while there wrote a series of burlesque poems in the assumed character of an Irish private. Several of these were contributed to the New York "Herald" over the pen-name of "Miles O'Reilly," and with additional articles were issued as "Life and Adventures, Songs, Services, and Speeches of Private Miles O'Reilly, 47th Regiment, New York Volunteers" (New York, 1864), and "Baked Meats of the Funeral: A Collection of Essays, Poems, Speeches, and Banquets, by Private Miles O'Reilly, late of the 47th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, 10th Army Corps. Collected, Revised, and Edited, with the Requisite Corrections of Punctuation, Spelling, and Grammar, by an Ex-Colonel of the Adjutant-General's Department, with whom the Private formerly served as Lance Corporal of Orderlies" (1866). He was subsequently assistant adjutant-general on General Henry W. Halleck's staff, with the rank of colonel, and accompanied General Hunter on his expedition to the Shenandoah valley in the spring of 1864. This proved unsuccessful, and he returned to Washington, but soon afterward resigned, receiving the brevet of brigadier-general of volunteers. He then made New York his home, and, resuming his literary work, became editor and later proprietor of "The Citizen," a newspaper issued by the Citizens' association to advocate reforms in the civil administration of New York city. In 1867 he was elected register of the county by a coalition of Republicans and Democrats. Incessant labor brought on insomnia with the use of opiates, and his death was the result of an undiluted dose of chloroform. Besides the books mentioned above, he was the author of "Lyrics by the Letter H" (New York, 1854), and after his death Robert B. Roosevelt collected "The Poetical Works of Charles G. Halpine (Miles O'Reilly)," with a biographical sketch and explanatory notes (New York, 1869).
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