JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1796JFK HONORS IRISH BRIGADE IN ADDRESS TO IRISH PARLIAMENT
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 Brigade, led by Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, who 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.
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