Other Irish regiments formed in other states, particularly the 69th and 116th in Pennsylvania, which fought at the Battle of Gettysburg along with the 28th Massachusetts Volunteers, and the 15th Maine.[i] However, none of these regiments ever approached the sheer size of the famous “Irish Brigade” from
The Brigade itself received praise not only from Irish writers and Union generals, but also from such strange sources as a writer from the London Times. This was, by all accounts, a valiant group of men, devoted not only to their adopted country of
This is clearly shown in the Brigade’s martial performance at the First Battle of Bull Run (known as the First Battle of Manassas in the South), the battle of
The First Battle of Bull Run, which occurred on
Stripped of knapsacks and overcoats, they swept up the hill, across the open field, on towards the wood, delivering fire after fire on their concealed foe. Batteries opened on them right and left, hurling grape into their very faces, while from the shelter of the woods a stream of lead was poured on them. It was a gallant charge, gallantly led and gallantly sustained. After each repulse, the regiment formed and charged right up on the batteries.[vi]
This continued on until the Brigade was ordered to retreat, which it did “without panic,” as Edward Spann describes.[vii] Even the Confederates were impressed with their bravery, with one commenting that, “‘The Irish fought like heroes,’ and at the end ‘did slowly retire.’”[viii] It was a performance that impressed General Irvin McDowell, Union General during the battle, so much that he personally rode over and thanked the Irish soldiers.[ix] That first battle caught the attention of generals, solidifying the Irish Brigade as a band of great warriors.
[i]Joseph P. O’Grady, How the Irish Became Americans (Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1973), 46.
[ii]David Power Conyngham, The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns (
[vii]Edward K. Spann, “Union Green: The Irish Community and the Civil War,” in Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy J. Meagher, ed. The