The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns

The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns

The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns

The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns

Synopsis

Few brigades of the Civil War can boast of a record as distinguished as that of New York¿s 69th, yet it has never fully received the attention warranted by its record of military excellence, distinctive reputation, and the unusual perspective its members brought to the Civil War. In fact, the 69th was engaged in nearly every major action of the eastern theater; its military reputation was well deserved and its combat casualties, which are some of the highest of the war, are testimony to the soldiers¿ collective bravery and patriotism. In his post as war correspondent for the New York Herald, Capt. David Power Conygham was required to be an eyewitness to the many battles on which he reported ¿ some of the experiences he would later describe when writing the history of the Irish Brigade. Conygham¿s account of the Irish Brigade is one of the best ¿ filled with vivid accounts of battle, wit and humor, and an appendix of scrupulously gathered biographical data on the men who served the unit.

Excerpt

Lawrence Frederick Kohl

Every March seventeenth, New York's 69th Regiment leads the St. Patrick's Day Parade up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. in December, the faithful still gather in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to lament the destruction more than 130 years ago of the 69th and the other regiments of the Irish Brigade on Marye's Heights. An "Irish Brigade Association" devotes itself both to discovering and celebrating the achievements of this famous unit in the Civil War. Re-enactors use their "living history" techniques to portray the experiences of several Irish Brigade regiments. the Irish Brigade of the Army of the Potomac has not been forgotten. Yet, it has never quite received the attention that its fascinating and illustrious history deserves. Few brigades on either side in the Civil War could boast of so distinguished a military record, and no comparable unit had such a distinctive character and such an unusual perspective on the nation's greatest crisis.

William F. Fox, a nineteenth-century authority on the fighting capacity of Civil War units, declared that the Irish unit was "perhaps 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, 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." Even those who were sometimes critical of the brigade acknowledged the pre-eminence of its military standing. George Alfred Townsend, an English war correspondent who had little use for the Irish, maintained that "when anything absurd, forlorn, or desperate was to be attempted, the Irish Brigade was called upon." This may notp . . .

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