Who did the Irish Brigade fight at Fredericksburg?

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Just watched Gods and Generals the other night, and it poignantly depicted the gallant charge of New York's "Irish Brigade" against Confederate fortifications outside of Fredericksburg, on December 13th of 1862.

The movie depicts not only the Federal troops, but also the Rebs as Irishmen. The latter are shown bemoaning the nationality of the Yankees even as they shoot them down; their officer breaks down and weeps when the last of the Irish Brigade flee.

Is this a romantic addition to the story on the part of the moviemakers, or did the Irish Brigade indeed face a unit of Irish Southerners at Marye's Heights?
 
Nov 2010
7,890
Border of GA and AL
I found this on Wikipedia. I'll try and find a more credible source. BRB. :)
Sumner's original order called for the division of Brig. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock to support French and Hancock sent forward his brigade under Col. Samuel K. Zook behind Palmer's. They met a similar fate. Next was his Irish Brigade under Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Meagher. By coincidence, they attacked the area defended by fellow Irishmen of Col. Robert McMillan's 24th Georgia Infantry. One Confederate who spotted the green regimental flags approaching cried out, "Oh God, what a pity! Here comes Meagher's fellows."

Edit: These may help.
Here's an animated timeline of the battle. The Battle of Fredericksburg - Animated Map

Here: Encyclopedia Virginia: Fredericksburg, Battle of

Here's a map.
 
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Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
24th Georgia...I have a book about Irish-American units in the War, its pretty comprehensive. If I can find it (emphasis on if...) I may be able to dig up something on this unit.
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
The map will be the key to a full answer to my question. Thank you Qymaen :)
 

Spartacuss

Ad Honorem
Jul 2010
7,575
Georgia, USA
The 24th Ga. was part of Cobbs Brigade. I find it facinating that they were in such a central position on the heights as this brigade was practically destroyed at South Mountain the previous September, blunting McClellan's attempt to destroy Lee before he had a chance to consolidate at Antietam. Some 75% casualty rate there. I can't say how many were 24th, but the brigade at South Mountain numbered around 1500. Had to be devestating to all it's units. Maybe Salah or Viperlord can help.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,109
VA
The 24th Ga. was part of Cobbs Brigade. I find it facinating that they were in such a central position on the heights as this brigade was practically destroyed at South Mountain the previous September, blunting McClellan's attempt to destroy Lee before he had a chance to consolidate at Antietam. Some 75% casualty rate there. I can't say how many were 24th, but the brigade at South Mountain numbered around 1500. Had to be devestating to all it's units. Maybe Salah or Viperlord can help.
Just off the top of my head, those casualties do include wounded who may later come back to their regiments, so those casualties, while certainly horrific, don't indicate that 75% of the brigade was permanently put out of action. After Lee's return to Virginia from Maryland as well, he collected a lot of stragglers who couldn't quite keep up with the army during the hard-marching 2nd Manassas and Maryland campaigns, so it's also possible the brigade's number was somewhat increased by their stragglers too. Longstreet's First Corps, which I believe Cobb's brigade belonged to, was mostly static between the end of the Maryland Campaign and Fredericksburg, so between recovered casualties, stragglers, and recruits,(The Confederates did a better job than the Union of keeping their veteran units manned) Cobb's brigade could have recovered fairly substantially. I don't know much about the details of Lee's recovery in strength between the end of the Maryland Campaign and Fredericksburg though, so this is just my speculation. I also think that Cobb had a rather large brigade originally, so it probably wasn't anything out of the ordinary in terms of size by Fredericksburg.
 
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Oct 2006
413
Florida
24th Georgia...I have a book about Irish-American units in the War, its pretty comprehensive. If I can find it (emphasis on if...) I may be able to dig up something on this unit.
From what I've researched on the 24th before, the entire regiment was not Irish. Within the regiment was a company of Irishmen called "McMillan's Guards", they were Company K of the 24th out of Habersham County Georgia. The company was raised by Robert McMillan, who would eventually command the 24th. After General Thomas R.R. Cobb was mortally wounded by a Federal artillery shell at Fredericksburg, McMillan took command of the brigade.
 

Spartacuss

Ad Honorem
Jul 2010
7,575
Georgia, USA
Thanks guys. Settles quite a bit for me. In fact, I was not aware McMillan assumed command of the brigade after the loss of T.R.R. Cobb. I had thought it coincidentally fell to the command of another Cobb. Off the top of my head, here... I can't remember the second Cobb's full name.