Sunday, December 13, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1796


Fredericksburg, Virginia (JFK+50) 153 years ago today, December 13, 1862, the Union army launched an attack on Confederate positions on Marye's Heights near Fredericksburg, Virginia. 

The Federal army included the Irish Brigadeled by Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagherwho had been one of the leaders in the Irish rebellion of 1848.  The General implored his men to fight..."today to preserve America, tomorrow to liberate Ireland."

Meagher's men were volunteers who had fled Ireland twenty years before their charge in the second Federal attack on  Mayre's Heights.  

According to one of their officers, the men marched out from town "in glorious style, their green sunbursts waving.  Every man (with) a sprig of green in his cap..."  The Brigade was stopped just 30 yards from the Stone Wall.  

President John F. Kennedy was the first President of Irish descent.  He also was the first President to visit Ireland during his term of office. In his visit of June 1963, the President addressed the Irish Parliament and presented the flag of the Irish Brigade.  

JFK said...

"One of the most brilliant stories (of Irish history) was written by a band of 1,200 men who went into battle wearing a green sprig in their hats. They bore a proud heritage and a special courage, given to those who had long fought for the cause of freedom. I am referring, of course, to the Irish Brigade. 

General Robert E. Lee, the great military leader of the Southern Confederate forces, said of this group of men after the battle...

'The gallant stand which this bold brigade made on the heights of Fredericksburg is well known. Never were men so brave. They ennobled their race by their splendid gallantry on that desperate occasion. Their brilliant, though hopeless, assaults on our lines excited the hearty applause of our officers and soldiers.'"


"The Civil War: Rebels Resurgent," by William K. Goolrick, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1985.

The Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg