|Irish Brigade Memorial at Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo by Andrew Tremel|
The brigade served in the Second Army Corps in the Union Army of the Potomac. When corps badges were introduced early in 1863, each soldier in the Second Corps wore a clover leaf, the emblem selected because of the Irish Brigade's service in that corps. After the depleted brigade fought at Chancellorsville, General Meagher requested permission to recruit throughout the North to bring the brigade back to full strength. His request denied, Meagher resigned. Further reduced in size at Gettysburg (fighting at the Angle and helping to repulse Pickett's Charge) and the Overland Campaign, the War Department disbanded the Irish Brigade in 1864. A second Irish Brigade formed with the same regiments early in 1865 and served through the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.
Just on a side note, one of the several notables in the brigades ranks was the chaplain, Father William Corby, who granted general absolution to the soldiers before they charged into the Wheatfield at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. Father Corby allegedly told the soldiers that if they didn't do their duty, they would be refused a Catholic burial. Corby later became president of Notre Dame. There are identical statues of the chaplain at Gettysburg and Notre Dame. Because of Notre Dame's love for football, the statue earned the nickname "Fair Catch Corby."
|Statue of Father Corby blessing the troops at Gettysburg. Photo by Andrew Tremel|
Again, this is just a short commemoration of one of the most battle-scarred units in the Civil War. As you tap your keg of Guinness today, offer a toast to the brave immigrants who fought to save the Union.