Archive for December 13th, 2013

December 13,

Irish Fight Irish at Fredericksburg Slaughter

December 13: TODAY in Irish History:

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An illustration of the fighting 69th regiment Irish Brigade in during the US Civil War

Snippets of Irish History by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks 

Conor is a Chicago based Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.

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1862: Irish Fight Irish at Fredericksburg Slaughter

December 13 was one of the bloodiest days in Irish military history as Irish fought Irish at Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg.

The Union’s Irish Brigade (the Fighting 69th) is decimated by Confederate forces during multiple efforts to take the Marye’s Heights. In his official report Meagher wrote: “Of the one thousand and two hundred I led into action, only two hundred and eighty appeared on parade next morning.”

Repulsing the Irish Brigade was the 24th Georgia Regiment led by Antrim born Robert McMillan. One of his officers later said: “At least three fourths of my command was composed of men of Irish descent and knew that the gallant dead in our front were our kindred of the land beyond the sea. When, one by one, the stars came out that night, many tears were shed by Southern eyes for the heroic Irish dead.”

General George Pickett wrote his fiancée, “Your soldier’s heart almost stood still as he watched those sons of Erin fearlessly rush to their death. The brilliant assault on Marye’s Heights of their Irish Brigade was beyond description. Why, my darling, we forgot they were fighting us and cheer after cheer at their fearlessness went up all along our lines.”

The actions of the Irish Brigade elicited similar emotions from another Confederate officer General James Longstreet

“The manner in which Meagher’s Irish Brigade breasted the death storm from Marie’s Heights of Fredericksburg, was the handsomest thing in the whole war. Six times in the face of a withering fire, before which whole ranks were mowed down as corn before the sickle, did the Irish Brigade run up that hill—rush to inevitable death.”

Robert E. Lee provided a fascinating insight into the Irish fighting man of both sides of the Civil war. “The Irish soldier fights not so much for lucre as through the reckless love of adventure, and, moreover, with a chivalrous devotion to the cause he espouses for the time being. Cleburne, on our side, inherited the intrepidity of his race. On a field of battle he shone like a meteor on a clouded sky! As a dashing military man he was all virtue; a single vice does not stain him as a warrior. His generosity and benevolence had no limits. The care which he took of the fortunes of his officers and soldiers, from the greatest to the least, was incessant. His integrity was proverbial, and his modesty was an equally conspicuous trait in his character.

Meagher, on your side, though not Cleburne’s equal in military genius, rivaled him in bravery and in the affections of his soldiers. The gallant stand which his 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. Though totally routed, they reaped harvests of glory. Their brilliant, though hopeless, assaults on our lines excited the hearty applause of my officers and soldiers, and Gen. Hill exclaimed: ‘There are those green flags again’ ”


Corporal Peter Welsh presages Gettysburg Address

Irish-American Corporal Peter Welsh wrote to his wife about the battle in words that presaged Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. ““This is my country as much as the man that was born on the soil and so it is with every man who comes to this country and becomes a citizen……….. This is the first test of a modern free government in the act of sustaining itself against internal enemys and matured rebellion….. All men who love free government and equal laws are watching this crisis to see if a republic can sustain itself in such a case if it fails then the hopes of millions fall and the designs and wishes of all tyrants will succeed the old cry will be sent forth from the aristocrats of europe that such is the common end of all republics the blatant croakers of the devine right of kings will shout forth their joy . . . . It becomes the duty of every one no matter what his position to do all in his power to sustain for the present and to perpetuate for the benefit [of] future generations a government and a national asylum which is superior to any the world has yet known.”

Welsh died from wounds received on May 28 1864. Sixty five letters he wrote to his wife and family were published in 1986.

READ: Bio of Corporal Peter Welsh

READ: Robert E. Lee interview

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 transcriptKennedy 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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This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humorist IrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.

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