Irish neighborhoods in Mississippi river towns like Helena, Memphis and Vtcksburg furnished manpower to a number of Arkansas commands in 1861. Captain Thomas J. Key's Helena Battery, a hard-hitting little company recruited in Helena and Memphis, boasted more than 50 Irish names, as did Co B. 2nd Arkansas Infantry (Hindman's, Goran's) from Helena. Company A of the 13th Arkansas listed about 40 Irish names from Memphis. Two Irish companies from Vicksburg, the Shamrock Guards and Swamp Rangers, joined die 18th Arkansas Infantry as Cos D and H. Little is known of the original uniforms of these units. In March 1862 the 18th Arkansas was in eight-button gray frock coats with dark blue collars and straight cuffs, and gray pants. This regiment later became the 3rd Confederate Infantry; it was consolidated in 1863 and part of 1864 with the 5th Confederate Infantry, an Irish command from Tennessee.
Neither Col James Fleming Fagan's 1st nor Col Patrick Ronayne Cleburne's 15th Arkansas Infantry contained any single solidly Irish company, but each had several companies with a strong Irish presence. These two regiments were consolidated into one during the 1864 AUanta campaign; they served with distinction in the Western theater, from Shiloh to Bentonville. Fagan, the grandson of Irish immigrants, led the 1st Arkansas at Shiloh, where the regiment (part of 1st Bde, 1st Div of Bragg's II Corps) suffered very heavy casualties. In this command the El Dorado Sentinels (Co A), Clan McGregor from Pine Bluff (Co D), and the Euoman Guards from Litde Rock (Co F) all had at least 30 Irish names on roll, and in Cos G and H a number of Irish also appear. In November 1861 the entire regiment received new uniforms, "coarse but serviceable," probably from the state's clothing factory at the Little Rock Penitentiary: gray kepis, eight- or nine-button frock coats and pants made of gray woolen jeans material (sometimes described as butternut or coarse brown), with dark blue or black collars and cuffs. Light brown wool hats were also worn.
Patrick R. Cleburne, the former corporal in the British Army, was a successful attorney and druggist at Helena, and would become one of only two foreign-bom officers to attain the rank of major-general in the Confederate army. His 15th Arkansas contained the Yell Rifles (Co C), his old company from Helena ("a splendid company of riflemen") with at least 30 Irish names on roll; the Napoleon Grays (Co D) and Phillips Guards (Co G) each contained about the same number. The Napoleon Grays was composed of many Irish riverboat men from the small port of that name, and earned a reputation for brawling and hard drinking. They often did duty as skirmishers, a dangerous job for which they showed a talent. The Napoleon Grays performed well at Perryville on October 8, 1862, where Cleburne ordered his Irish skirmishers - with regimental flags flying - to deploy ten paces ahead of his main battle line. As the Rebels reached the lop of a hill, it appeared to the Federals to be the whole enemy batde line. The Federals opened fire, and Cleburne's main force quickly overran their position before they had time to reload.
The 15 th Arkansas soldiers were probably first issued gray woolen frock coats from the Little Rock clothing manufactory, and forage caps, which were soon discarded for slouch hats. They were probably resupplied in the fall of 1861 with butternut-colored eight-button frock coats with black collars and straight-cut cuffs, butternut pants and wool hats. In the months after Shiloh the regiment received
As Confederate defenses crumbled on Missionary Ridge on November 25, 18«3 - the second day of the battle of Chattanooga - Cleburne's division held firm on the northern end of the Rebel line. A number of Irish-American units served under the revered Cleburne in the Army of Tennessee; the soldier at the far right bears the distinctive dark blue flag with a white crescent moon carried by components of his division. (Library of Congress)
mainly Columbus Depot jackets - gray shell jackets with dark blue collars and straight cuffs. Flindocks were issued at first, but by April 1862. when the regiment saw heavy combat at Shiloh (Cleburne having then risen to command 2nd Bde. Ill Corps), the 15th were carrying new British Enfields.
As Arkansas units gradually dwindled through attrition the Irish components in many companies also decreased. Unable to replace those who were killed, many regiments consolidated with others, and standard Confederate dress became commonplace. In June 1863 members of St John R. Liddell's Arkansas brigade in Cleburne's division of the Army of Tennessee were "well clothed, though without any attempt at uniformity in color or cut, but nearly all were dressed either in gray or brown coats and felt hats."
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