The Keenan Family

Keenan family crest

(Crest No. 264. Plate 25.)

THE Keenan family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon. The founder of the family was Fiacha Suidhe, brother of Con of the Hundred Battles, King of Ireland, A. D. 148, and son of Feilim Reachtmar, King of Ireland, A. D. 130. The ancient name was Cuinean and signifies “Thin.” The possessions of the sept were located in the present County of Waterford.

A branch of the O’Keenans were also settled in the County of Fermanagh, where many of them were distinguished as historians and poets.

Peter Keenan, a hero of the Civil War, was born in Livingston County, N. Y., in 1834, of Irish parents. At the outbreak of the war he was in Philadelphia, and was commissioned captain in the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and performed many services involving personal danger, and requiring courage and judgment. At the battle of Chancellorsville, May 2, 1863, he commanded his regiment with the rank of major. The Eleventh Army Corps on the Union right having been broken and routed, General Alfred Pleasanton ordered Keenan to charge the enemy advancing in the wood, and hold him in check until he could get his artillery in position. With less than five hundred men Keenan made his famous charge, which so startled and surprised the Confederates that they remained in their position until Pleasanton was ready, and thus enabled to check Stonewall Jackson’s corps, and save the Union Army from disaster. Keenan and a large number of his force were slain. Keenan’s charge at Chancellorsville has been considered fully as heroic as that of the Six Hundred at Balaklava, even apart from the difference that the latter was a blunder, and the former a superb piece of tactics.