Irish-American Soldiers

Irish-American Soldiers

The Irish Volunteers; The Isish Brigade [sic]; Meagher is Leading the Irish Brigade; To the Irish Brigade

Thomas Francis Meagher was a member of the 69th New York State Militia. This ninety-day regiment first saw action at First Bull Run, under the command of Colonel Michael Corcoran. The colonel was captured and spent more than a year in a Confederate prison. When the ninety-day enlistment expired, Captain Meagher returned, with his regiment to New York.

After his return, Meagher raised the Irish Brigade, which were volunteers serving for a term of three years. This unit would eventually become the 63rd, 69th and 88th New York Voluntary Infantry Regiments. Meagher was appointed brigadier general and took command of the Irish Brigade on February 5, 1862. Throughout its life in the Army of the Potomac, the Irish Brigade was almost always at the foremost position and suffered high casualties as a result. Such battles included the "Bloody Lane" at Antietem, below Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, the battle in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg and at Chancellorsville.

Bards were instantly inspired to sing the praises of the regiment and its commander, and ballads were written exactly reproducing the style and language of Irish ballads. There were similar elements of primitive verse, gleams of humor, and explosions of vigorous spirit  (Wolf, v).

Civil War Ballads Gallery

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