previous next


Irish Brigade.

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:--

1 “A sever and well-sustained musketry contest then ensued, continuing until the ammunition was nearly expended, after which this brigade (Meagher's Irish Brigade), having suffered severely, losing many valuable officers and men, was relieved by the brigade of General Caldwell, which until this time had remained in support. Caldwell's Brigade advanced to within a short distance of the rear of Meagher's Brigade. The latter then broke by companies to the rear, and, the former by companies to the front, and in this manner passed their respective lines.” --[Hancock's Offical Report.--Antietam.]

2 Killed while in command of another brigade.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Marye's Heights (Virginia, United States) (1)
Gettysburg (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Thomas Francis Meagher (3)
J. N. Caldwell (2)
Thomas A. Smyth (1)
Robert Nugent (1)
Patrick Kelly (1)
Richard Byrnes (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
February, 1865 AD (1)
September, 1864 AD (1)
July, 1864 AD (1)
1862 AD (1)
1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: