1862 – The Irish Brigade (Fighting 69th) is decimated by Confederate forces during multiple efforts to take Marye’s Heights.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

When the American Civil War broke out, thousands of Irish-born men in both the North and the South volunteered for military service. Some 140,000 served in the Union Army, and they dominated at least 20 regiments. The most famous belonged to Thomas F. Meagher’s Irish Brigade. His brigade, made up of Irish immigrants from New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania was nicknamed, “the Sons of Erin”. Meagher was an Irish native whom the British had banished to Tasmania after he became involved in Ireland’s 1848 uprising. After escaping from the island, he made his way to America, where he became a popular lecturer on Irish independence.

Meagher believed it was important for the Irish-born to fight for the Union. The anti-immigrant Know-Nothing party was still politically potent, and Meagher promoted military service as one way Irishmen could demonstrate their loyalty. An Irish veteran could ‘take his stand proudly by the side…

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