December 13: TODAY IN IRISH HISTORY (published by IrishmanSpeaks)
1862: The Irish Brigade (the Fighting 69th) is decimated at the Battle of Fredericksburg by Robert E Lee’s forces, primarily due to the incompetence of Major General Ambrose Burnside. The Fighting 69th are celebrated in song and story and film much of it based on their bravery at Fredericksburg where more than 900 of the brigade’s 1200 men fell in a futile attack on Confederate forces at Marye’s Heights under the sometimes controversial leadership of Thomas Francis Meagher.
Robert E. Lee speaking of the bravery of the Irish Brigade said: “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.”
Dropkick Murphy’s Fighting 69th
JFK Gets it WRONG on the Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg
Speaking to Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) on June 28th 1963, President Kennedy made a surprising lapse in factual accuracy. In a speech presumably crafted by Ted Sorensen who was on the trip with him (which also featured the famous Ich bin ein Berliner speech), Kennedy got both the date and location of the Battle of Frederickburg WRONG.
The battle featuring the Irish Brigade took place at Fredericksburg VIRGINA, DECEMBER 13 1862. As you will see in the speech below and also the transcript, Kennedy says the battle took place SEPT 13 in MARYLAND! A surprising goof by the great speechwriter Sorensen unlikely to have been spotted by members of Dail Eireann in Leinster House whom Kennedy poked gentle fun at when he said, “Lord Edward Fitzgerald …. did not like to stay here in his family home because, as he wrote his mother, “Leinster House does not inspire the brightest ideas.”
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