Alabama

By the outbreak of the Civil War the port of Mobile was a cosmopolitan center rivaling New Orleans on the Gulf coast, and boasting a large immigrant population. Several solidly Irish working-class volunteer companies were organized in 1861, but they served in different Alabama regiments.

Alabama Rifles

Men of the Alabama Rifles -Co D, 1st Alabama Infantry -manning a mortar battery at Pensacola, April 1861. These men are mostly in civilian clothe«, although the officer In the center foreground wears a "Jeff Davis" hat and a dark blue nine-button frock coat typical of Alabama volunteer militia companies. (F.T. Miller, Photographic History of the Civil War, 1911)

Members of the Mechanics Fire Company, nearly all of whom listed their place of birth as Ireland, formed the Emerald Guards in April 1861. On one side of their green flag was a harp encircled with a wreath of shamrocks and the Celtic war cries "Erin Go Bragh" and "Faugh A Ballagh"; on the other was the first national flag of the Confederacy, and a full-length figure of George Washington in the center. Led by Captain Patrick Loughry, who was killed at Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) in May/June 1862, the company joined the 8th Alabama Infantry as Co I (the regiment's color company) and served throughout the war in Virginia; at Gettysburg, for instance, the regiment - notably strong, with 477 enlisted men - served in Wilcox's Bde in Anderson's Div of A.P. Hill's III Corps. The Emerald Guards' uniform was dark green, although in Virginia they switched to eight-button gray shell jackets with dark-colored (possibly green) trim on the collars and cuffs. Companies C, E and H in the 8th Alabama also contained a number of Irishmen from Mobile.

Captain John O'Connor's Montgomery Guards became Co B, 21st Alabama Infantry in the fall of 1861, and spent most of the war as artillery in forts guarding Mobile Bay. Companies of the 21st Alabama at Fort Gaines in December 1861 originally wore red kepis (probably with a dark blue band and "a gilt bugle with silver 21 in the center" on the top); dark blue nine-button frock coats with sky-blue trim on the collars and pointed cuffs, following the pattern of Alabama Volunteer Corps regulations used by many new companies; and dark blue pants with a white cord (gray pants with black stripe for fatigue duty). Fatigue uniforms were phased in late in 1861 or early in 1862 - probably gray nine-button shell jackets with dark blue collars, pointed cuffs and shoulder straps, sky-blue pants and dark-colored leggings. Many officers continued wearing their dark blue coats well into 1862. Lieutenant-Colonel James M. Williams developed a fondness for the Montgomeries, of whom he wrote that they "stood heroically by my side in the battle of Shiloh" (where the 21st Alabama formed pan of 1st Bde, 2nd Div of Bragg's II Corps). Williams wrote in June 1862 that "a new uniform for the entire regiment has arrived ... doubtless some home-made cotton stuff, but in this rough service that is just what we want." As the war progressed standard Confederate clothing became the norm; officers adopted gray frock coats, jackets and hats.

Captain Bernard O'Connell's Emmet Guards became Co B, 24th Alabama Infantrv in October 1861, and a number of Irishmen also served in Cos A and H. The unit saw hard service in the Army of

Men of the Alabama Rifles -Co D, 1st Alabama Infantry -manning a mortar battery at Pensacola, April 1861. These men are mostly in civilian clothe«, although the officer In the center foreground wears a "Jeff Davis" hat and a dark blue nine-button frock coat typical of Alabama volunteer militia companies. (F.T. Miller, Photographic History of the Civil War, 1911)

Joseph Manigualt

I Tennessee; Capt William J. O'Brien, Co B's second commander, was killed at Chickamauga, where the regiment suffered no fewer than 200 killed and wounded while serving in Manigualt's Bde, Hindman's Div of Longstreet's Left Wing. The Emmet Guards' original uniform is unknown; clothing issued in November 1861 included gray jackets (probably the plain gray Alabama state pattern seven-button shell jackets with standing collar and shoulder straps, as issued in large numbers in the fall of 1861), pants, caps, Merino shirts and checkered shirts. The company received coats and hats in July 1862, possibly Columbus Depot pattern six-button gray shell jackets with blue collars and straight-cut cuffs.

Apart from those from Mobile a few other Irish units appeared. The Railroad Guards (Co B, 9th Alabama Infantry Regiment) boasted some 80 Irish former workers on the Tennessee & Coosa Railroad from Guntersville. The Alabama Rifles from Talladega (Co D, 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment) had at least 40 Irish or Scotch-Irish names on roll. Colonel William C. Oates of the 15th Alabama Infantry (a regiment of Law's Bde, Hood's Div in I Corps when it played a major part on the right flank of the attack on Little Round Top on the second day of Gettysburg) identified Co K of his command - the Eufaula City Guard or Eufaula Zouaves - as an Irish company.

The Alabama Rifles probably began their service in dark blue nine-button frock coats, and the 1st Alabama is known to have been issued dark blue frock coats, possibly with sky-blue trim, as regimental dress in July 1861; some of these were still being worn into 1862, although the regiment apparendy began phasing in plain gray frock coats in the fall of 1861. The 9th Alabama may also have worn dark blue frock coats to Virginia in May 1861; while the I5th Alabama was issued gray frock coats, pants and forage caps with brass letters in November 1861, and their weapons were converted smoothbore muskets.

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