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Born Midleton, 11th October (November?) 1834, John Joseph Coppinger was one of six children of William Joseph  Coppinger and Margaret O'Brien, and a descendant of the Barrymore clan. Although, so far unproven, he was most likely baptised South Parish as were the vast majority of the Coppingers in accordance with family tradition. Not least of all, because his uncle was Parish Priest and Bishop. However, Bishop William died 1830, a few years prior to his birth.

The Colonel's military and American Civil War service is fully documented by Brian C. Pohanka. Alongside is a contemporary account as reported by the Cork Examiner of 24th February 1883.

Cousin of the Colonel, Stephen William Coppinger was born, 4th January 1803, the son of Stephen William Coppinger & Joanna Coppinger. He studied for the priesthood at the Seminary of San Sulpice, Paris, and ordained by his uncle Dr. William Coppinger, Bishop of Cloyne, 29th April 1829.

Stephen William Coppinger, known simply as Stephen, was deeply affected by the needs of poor and deprived children of his native Midleton; just as Nano Nagle before him did in the city. There is, however, no evidence that she was ever in Midleton.

Stephen Coppinger’s greatest achievement and legacy must be Midleton’s Presentation Convent and school, completed in 1834. It was the realisation of a dream of this young priest to improve the poor health of the children of his parish, and only 26 years of age when construction began in 1829. Stephen’s sister; Dorinder, married, John Musson Ashlin, whose son George Coppinger Ashlin, was in partnership withEdward Welby Pugin (1834-1875), the renowned London Architect.

Angelina Gould was born Portugal, 1792 the daughter of a wealth Irish merchant. Her parents had left their native country some years previously and taken up residence, where they had acquired an enormous commercial wealth. She joined the Presentation Order as a novitiate at Doneraile in 1826 and made her religious profession in 1829. She brought with her a fortune of approximately £60,000.00, and willed that a greater portion of her fortune be employed in the building of Presentation convents in the Cloyne Diocese for the promotion of Catholic education of the poor. She was a first cousin of the Bishop.

Colonel Coppinger
as transcribed
The Cork Examiner 24th February 1883

"The people of Midleton will be interested in the following particulars, about one of their townsmen, who is fast becoming distinguished in military circles in this country. Among the many young Irishmen who went as volunteers to Italy to uphold the temporal power of the Pope against the attacks of the Garibaldians, was a young man named John J. Coppinger, of the Midleton family of that name. He served creditably in the Papal Brigade, and received the rank of chevalier for gallantry at the defence of La Rocca gateway in September, 1860. After the triumph of Garibaldi, Chevalier Coppinger and comrades in arms returned to Ireland. At the outbreak of the civil war in this country, Secretary Seward, who was anxious to enlist the Irish sentiment in favour of President Lincoln’s administration, consulted with his friend, Archbishop Hughes, who suggested that a number of young Irishmen, of influential connection should receive military commissions. With the administration the Archbishop’s suggestion was equivalent to a command, and six commissions were placed at his disposal.

The sainted and patriotic Bishop Keane, of Cloyne, who had been P P of Midleton, recommended the young Papal officer for one of these commissions, and he received it, being appointed captain of the 14th Infantry in September, 1861.

He was in the Army of the Potomac in 1852 (62??), and saw some hard fighting at the second battle of Bull Run, where he was severely wounded, and subsequently at Gettysburgh, Chancellorville, Mine Run, Willderness, Yellow Tavern, Meadow Bridge, Hanover Crossing, Hawes Shop, Old Church, Cold Harbor, Trevellian Station, Deep Bottom, Newton, Winchester, Smithfield, Shepardtown, Fishers Hill, Waynesboro, Woodstock, Cedar Creek, Liberty Mills, and the last battle of the rebellion, Appomator, where he was again wounded. It will be seen that he had not been a carpet night, and while the commissions of those who had been appointed with him expired with the war, his bravery and soldierly qualities obtained him a permanent connection with our army. He was twice breveted for "gallant and meritorious service," and in January, 1865, he was appointed Colonel of the 15th New York Cavalry, which he retained until the regiment was mustered out at the close of the war. He was ordered to the frontier, and in 1866 was brevetted Colonel "for the zeal and energy which he displayed in command of troops operating against hostile Indians." For some years he has served as Acting Inspector-Gen on the staff of General Pope (doing service for a Pope again), a position only given to those thoroughly versed in the manual of arms, the drill, equipment and discipline of the army. Strict disciplinarian as he is, the men who have served under him speak of him in the highest terms of praise, and many of the "boys" from his own town and country have done duty for Uncle Sam, in his regiment on the plains.

When the writer saw Colonel Coppinger in Ireland, he was a tall, erect man, of military bearing, dark complexion and "bearded like the bard." He was changed only in having becoming prematurely grey. Last summer Miss Alice Stanwood Blaine, daughter of ex-Secretary of State Blaine, visited the far West with some friends. There she met Colonel Coppinger, who wooed her, and made her his wife, Tuesday, February 6. Now James G. Blaine, the father of Mrs. Coppinger, is one of the most brilliant and distinguished men in public life in this country. He began his political life in the State of Main, though a Pennsylvanian by birth, who, with a dash of Irish blood in him. He went through all the grades of politics in Pine Tree State, and was sent to Congress, and was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. From the House he was promoted to the Senate, and at two Conventions of the Republican party he nearly obtained the nomination for President, which would have been equivalent to an election. It is not probable that he may be nominated and elected President in 1884. He is a man of great wealth, ability, and influence, and is now engaged writing a history of our own times [...] Justin M’Carthy.

Truth is stranger than fiction, and the story of Colonel Coppinger’s life reads like a chapter of romance. From Ireland to fair Italy, and then through the "pride, pomp and circumstance" of our great civil war, with credit and distinction he went his way. The Indian warfare coupled with his recent years, and far from the great cities, amid "the vernal woods" and great rolling prairies of the far West, he met and won a fair young girl whom he has just made his bride.

The wedding was the great social event of the season at Washington. It was celebrated in the now and elegant mansion of the bride’s father, where a large and very distinguished company had assembled for the occasion, in response to the following card:-

Mr. & Mrs. Blaine

invite you to be present at the marriage

of their daughter,

Ann Stanwood Blaine,

To

Brovt-Col. John J Coppinger, U.S.A.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 12 o’clock, M, 1500

Twentieth-street, Washington, D.C

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