The Irish Brigade was, probably, the best known of any brigade organization, it having made an unusual reputation for dash and gallantry.
The remarkable precision of its evolutions under fire;1
its desperate attack on the impregnable wall at Marye's Heights
; its never failing promptness on every field; and its long continuous service, made for it a name inseparable from the history of the war. It belonged to the First Division of the Second Corps, and was numbered as the Second Brigade.
The regiments which properly belonged to the Irish Brigade, together with their losses, were:--
| ||Killed and Died of Wounds. |
|63d New York Infantry ||156 |
|69th New York Infantry ||259 |
|88th New York Infantry ||151 |
|28th Massachusetts Infantry ||250 |
|116th Pennsylvania Infantry ||145 |
| || |
|Total (during the war) ||961 |
The Irish Brigade lost over 4,000 men in killed and wounded; it being more men than ever belonged to the brigade at any one time.
With the exception of the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, the regiments were small.
At the start they were not recruited to the maximum, but left New York with about 800 men each.
The three New York regiments became so reduced in numbers that, at Gettysburg
, they were consolidated into two companies each; the One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania had been consolidated into four companies.
The brigade, which was organized in 1861, consisted originally of three New York regiments, which selected numbers corresponding to those of certain famous Irish regiments in the British Army
The One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania and Twenty eighth Massachusetts were added in the fall of 1862.
Each of the five regiments carried green flags, in addition to the national colors.
While on the Peninsular and Antietam
campaigns, the Twenty-Ninth Massachusetts was attached to the brigade, but after Antietam
it was detached and its place was taken by the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts.
In September, 1864, the remnant of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery was added; but it was detached in February, 1865, and the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery took its place.
In July, 1864, the One Hundred arid Sixteenth Pennsylvania was transferred to the Fourth Brigade.
But the Irish Brigade was composed, substantially, as above; and, each of the regiments having reenlisted, its service was continuous and unbroken.
It was commanded, in turn, by General Thomas Francis Meagher
, Colonel Patrick Kelly
(killed), General Thos. A. Smyth2
(killed), Colonel Richard Byrnes
(killed), and General Robert Nugent
Mention should also be made of the following named brigades, and their losses:--