The Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg

A moving video of the Irish Brigade at the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, based on the movie Gods and Generals.  It was criminal military malpractice for Burnside, perhaps the most incompetent general in the war, to assault the fortified Confederate positions, but his idiocy does not derogate in the slightest from the extreme heroism of the Union troops who suffered massive casualties while attempting to do the impossible.  Going into the battle the Irish Brigade mustered approximately 1700 men.  After the slaughter 263 were still fit for duty.  The video is correct that many of the Georgians confronting the Irish Brigade were Irish immigrants, a fact that increases the tragedy of the day. 

In accord with the brio that was an essential part of the Brigade, General Meagher commandeered a theater in Fredericksburg the day after the battle and held a banquet for the survivors, at which new green flags to replace their tattered banners were presented to the men of the Brigade.  This moment calls to mind for me the observation of G. K. Chesterton,  “For the great Gaels of Ireland / Are the men that God made mad, / For all their wars are merry, / And all their songs are sad.”  A first-rate history of the Brigade at Fredericksburg is here.

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 6:22 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

One Comment

  1. This is the only part of the movie that made me tear up. It was very well done.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: