Thomas Francis Meagher and the Irish Brigade in the Civil War

by Daniel M. Callaghan
EUR39.99 ($44.79)
When President Abraham Lincoln issued his call to arms in 1861, the 63rd, 69th and 88th New York Volunteers were among the first to step forward to defend the Union. Comprised primarily of first and second generation Irish immigrants, these three regiments were later joined by the 28th Massachusetts and the 116th Pennsylvania. Although many of these Irish men were decidedly anti–Lincoln—blaming the northern abolitionists as much as the southern rebels for the nation’s plight—they worked around their dilemma by pledging their allegiance to their new country and its flag rather than its president. Suffering heavy casualties, this Irish Brigade under the command of Thomas Francis Meagher became one of the most legendary fighting groups of the Civil War. This work provides a balanced, historically factual picture of the Irish Brigade and its commander by re-examining and re-interpreting existing accounts. It presents an unbiased account of the role that the Brigade played in the confrontations, during the Seven Days’ battles, at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. The author examines the ways in which contemporary sources distorted the historical actualities regarding the Irish Brigade—attempting to write into the annals of legend a story which needed no embellishment—and the tempering effect which chronological distance has produced, resulting in more critical and dispassionate publications. The effect of politics and political manipulation on the Irish regiments is also discussed. Sources range from memoirs published by brigade veterans in the years immediately following the war to letters and memoirs published as recently as 1996.
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