Savannah was a major Atlantic port with a large Irish immigrant population, and this heritage was reflected in several militia companies raised there.
Formed in 1842, and named for Revolutionary War hero William Jasper (who was killed in the 1779 siege of Savannah), Capijolin Folev's Irish Jasper Greens was one of Savannah's dominant volunteer militia companies, and the only one from Savannah to be accepted for service in the Mexican War. At the start of the Civil War the Irish Jaspers tried unsuccessfully to expand to battalion size, but a second company was formed in May 1861. The two companies went into the 1st Georgia Volunteers (Mercer's) as Cos A & B, and served at Fort Pulaski on the Georgia coast. In 1864 the 1st Georgia Volunteers was transferred to the Army of Tennessee, and during the Atlanta campaign Martin J. Ford of the Irish Jaspers became lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. The Irish Jasper Greens wore dark blue shakos with white feather plumes and wreathed "IJG" insignia; dark blue coatees with a single row of brass buttons, and green collars and cuffs; and dark blue pants with green stripes edged with buff. They later adopted gray Confederate uniforms, as did the rest of the 1st Georgia. Initial weapons were probably M1842 muskets, as this was the most numerous weapon in Georgia arsenals. The Irish Jaspers received a silk flag in August 1861: green on one side with an Irish harp and inscription "Irish Jasper Greens, 1842". and white on the other with the Georgia state seal and 11 gold stars. It is worth noting that when soldiers of the largely Irish 9th Connecticut were on occupation duty in Savannah in early 1865, the disbanded
Irish Jasper Greens loaned them their Irish flag to carry in the St Patrick's Day parade.
Two other companies in the 1st Georgia Volunteers claimed an Irish heritage. The Republican Blues (Co C), formed as early as 1808, contained a large number of Irish or Scotch-Irish names. The Blues began the war in their fatigue uniforms - dark blue kepis, jackets and pants with white trim. The Irish Volunteers (Co E), a new company added to the regiment in September 1861, was described as wearing "service hats, jackets, dark pantaloons and waistbelts."
Other Savannah Irish companies included the Montgomery Guards (Co E) and Emmet Rifles (Co F) of the 22nd Georgia Artillery Battalion, stationed at Fort Pulaski in 1862 and at Fort McAllister when it was overrun by Federal troops in December 1864. Most evidence suggests die battalion wore standard Confederate artillery dress. The Montgomery-Guards carried an Irish Hag, presented to them by the Sisters of Mercy; this featured a large gold Irish harp surrounded by shamrocks, above the words "MONTGOMERY GUARDS".
Another Emmet Rifles company, raised in March 1861, became Co B, 1st Geotgia Regulars; if they ever had distinctive dress or a flag, no descriptions have been found. Led by Capt William Martin (later promoted to field command), the Emmet Rifles received the state uniforms prescribed for die Army of Georgia in July 1861: "Confederate gray, single-breasted frock coats with Georgia buttons, black cords down the outer seams of the pants. Caps were gray." Gray jackets and pants were worn for fatigue; officers wore dark blue frock coats and pants and plumed hats. There was also a large Irish presence in this regiment's Company G.
Augusta contributed the Irish Volunteers, formed in 1852, which became Co C (the color company) of the 5th Georgia Infantry Regiment; this unit suffered heavy casualties at Chickamauga, serving in John K. Jackson's Bde, Cheatham's Div of Polk's Right Wing. The regiment received gray uniforms in 1862. Another Irish company from Augusta, the Montgomery Guards, became Co K, 20th Georgia Infantry; the Augusta Daily Constitutionalist of January 12, 1861 reported them in "showy uniforms" and carrying a "beautiful new banner."
The Lochrane Guards from Macon (Co F, Phillips Legion Infantry Battalion) saw action manning the stone wall at Fredericksburg in December 1862. An immigrant from County Tyrone, Capt Joseph Hamilton of Co E, commanded the Legion at the wall (all field officers being killed or wounded). By this date the Lochrane Guards may have been wearing Type II Richmond Depot unuimmed nine-button shell jackets with shoulder straps and standing collars.
From Atlanta came the Jackson Guards, Co B (color company), I9th Georgia Infantry Regiment. Company commander James Henry Neal later became lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, and was killed at Bentonville in March 1865. As the former 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Army of Georgia, the 19th Georgia was issued the state uniform of gray kepis, frock coals and pants with black stripes. A photograph probably taken in June 1862 shows enlisted men in gray kepis, gray frock coats and pants, and officers in dress hats with black plumes, gray frock coats with two rows of buttons, and shoulder rank insignia. An image of Capt John Keely of the Jackson Guards shows him wearing a more typical
Fierce in battle, if notorious for ill-discipline, Maj C. Robcrdoau Wheat's 1st Louisiana Special Infantry Battalion was drawn from the New Orleans Irish
Fierce in battle, if notorious for ill-discipline, Maj C. Robcrdoau Wheat's 1st Louisiana Special Infantry Battalion was drawn from the New Orleans Irish the Tiger Rifles (Co B) is shown wearing the battalion's red fez, red-trimmed blue zouave jacket.
the Civil War, 1887)
Confederate officer's gray frock coat with two rows of eight buttons, collar rank insignia, light-colored trim on pointed cuffs (and possibly along the edge of the coat), sleeve braid, and a black waist belt with rectangular brass plate.
The largest Irish-American units in the Southern army came from Louisiana. New Orleans was a cosmopolitan metropolis with more than 24,000 Irish inhabitants -a quarter of the city's population. Although initially opposed to secession, the Irish volunteered in large numbers once it was evident that North and South would go to war. "As for our Irish citizens," John McGinnis' Daily IMta proclaimed. "Whew! They are 'spilin' fora fight with old Abe."
The Montgomery Guards had been organized in the mid-I830s, and the company wore bluejackets, pants, caps trimmed with yellow, and white belts. In January 1861 they received captured US arms from the Baton Rouge arsenal, most likely percussion muskets.
The Emmet Guards was formed in 1850, many officers being prominent Irish politicians; it adopted dress caps with green plumes, green coats, and sky-blue pants with gold stripes. Although Irish Americans composed 77 percent of this company, the Emmet Guards had only a 10 percent desertion rate during the Civil War - remarkable for any Southern company.
The Emmet Guards and Montgomery Guards both went into the 1st Louisiana Infantry Regiment formed in April 1861, as Cos D and E respectively. The 1st Louisiana w-as recruited in New Orleans, and at least a quarter of the regiment were bom in Ireland; besides the Emmets and the Montgomeries, there was a strong Irish presence in the Orleans Light Infantry (Company F). The Montgomery Guards' Capt Michael Nolan, a County Tipperary native and New Orleans grocer, was promoted to field command and led the regiment at Antietam (in Starke's Bde of "Stonewall" Jackson's Div); he would be killed at Gettysburg.
Companies of the 1st Louisiana were dressed distinctively at first, but in September 1861 the regiment was issued a uniform by the state: eight- or nine-button frock coats, pants and caps. The first uniforms were blue, later becoming gray, and shell jackets began to replace frock coats when cloth became scarce. Belt plates were usually rectangular brass, with the state's pelican insignia enclosed by a wreath.
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The most famous Louisiana Irish unit (and one of the most colorful and notorious) was Maj C. Roberdeau Wheat's 1st Louisiana Special Infantry Battalion (Wheat's Tigers), raised from Irish dock-workers in New Orleans. The unit fought well in July 1861 at First Bull Run (where they engaged the 69th New York), and in Jackson's Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862. However, Col Wheat was mortally wounded at Gaines' Mill, and without a commander of his caliber the battalion was disbanded in August 1862. Battalion companies were distinctively dressed at first, with the Tiger Rifles (Co B) in dark blue zouave jackets (faded to brown by the fall of 1861) with red trim, red shirts, red sashes, white-and-blue striped pants and while gaiters. Headgear included a red fez with a blue tassel, or a straw hat with a defiant motto written on the band. Other companies wore bluejackets, gray coats and red shirts. The battalion carried MI841 rifles without bayonets in 1861.
More than half of the New Orleans laborers who comprised the 6th Louisiana Infantry Regiment ("Irish Brigade") were born in Ireland; these included two of the regiment's colonels, Henry B. Strong and William Monaghan. both of whom were killed in battle - Strong at Aniietam, Monaghan in the Wilderness. Richard Taylor, the regiment's first brigade commander, described the Irishmen as "stout, hardy fellows, turbulent in camp and requiring a strong hand, but responding to kindness and justice, and ready to follow their officers to the death." Companies of the 6th Louisiana were distinctively dressed at first, but their uniforms were becoming threadbare by August 1861 after just two months' service in Virginia. The 6th Louisiana was probably issued stale clothing in the fall of 1861: long jackets and pants made of bluish-gray jeans material. As cloth became scarce the jackets or coats were replaced by shell jackets, usually trimmed around the edges, collar, shoulder straps and cuffs with half-inch-wide black braid.
Taylor considered the 7th Louisiana Infantry ("Pelican Regiment") to be a "crack regiment." One third were native-born Irishmen; predominantly Irish companies were the Sarsfield Rangers (Co C), Virginia Guards (Co D), Virginia Blues (Co I), and Irish Volunteers (Co F) from Assumption Parish. The 7th Louisiana received state-issued bluish-gray uniforms in the fall of 1861: kepis with light blue trim, nine-button shell jackets trimmed _
light blue on the collars and pointed cuffs, and pants. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles de Choiseul described it as a fatigue uniform "of a light blue heavy cloth, a very pretty and serviceable uniform indeed." After the capture of New Orleans by Federal forces in April 1862, Louisiana troops were forced to depend on Confederate Quartermaster depots for supplies. In Virginia they began receiving kepis and dark gray Type I Richmond Depot shell jackets with black trim on cuffs and shoulder straps.
From August 1862 to May 1864 the Army of Northern Virginia contained two majority-Irish brigades from Louisiana: William E. Starke's (1st, 2nd, 9th, 10th and 15th Louisiana); and Harry T. Hays' (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 14th Louisiana).
September 17, 1862: the the dead of Starke's heavily Irish Louisiana brigade littering the Hagerstown Road at Antietam. On the same day, Meagher's mainly New York-Irish brigade of the Army of the Potomac suffered heavy losses in an attack on the Rebel position christened Bloody Lane. (Library of Congress)
Besides the heavily Irish units already mentioned, every one of the brigades' component regiments had at least one Irish or majority-Irish company. The brigades were consolidated into one after heavy losses during the Wilderness and Spotsylvania campaigns of May 1864. Observing prisoners from Hays' Louisiana brigade in November 1863, one Yankee soldier was surprised by the quality of their dress: "better clothed than any we had seen before... overcoats and jackets of a much better material than our own ... of English manufacture, much darker than the United States uniform."
In the Western theater. Louisiana units also contained large numbers of Irish Americans. At least a quarter of the 1st Louisiana Regular Infantry (raised in February 1861 in New Orleans) was Irish, with heavy concentrations in Cos C, E, F and G. This regiment served with the Army of Tennessee and suffered consistently heavy losses at Shiloh, Stones River, and Chickamauga (where it served in Govan's Bde. Liddell's Div of the Reserve Corps). Early in 1861 the 1st Regulars received a regimental uniform from the state: dark blue nine-button frock coats, dark blue pants with yellow cords and dark blue kepis, generally similar to the US dress uniform. Their fatigue dress included dark blue live-button shell jackets. Arms in 1862 were ,58cal rifled muskets and .69cal smoothbore muskets.
In the 13th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, which also served with the Army of Tennessee, the predominant Irish companies were the Southern Celts (Co A) from New Orleans, and the St Mary Volunteers (Co G) from St Mary Parish. The whole regiment was about 25 percent Irish; organized in September 1861, the 13th Louisiana sustained heavy casualties at Shiloh (alongside the 1st Arkansas in 1st Bde. Ruggles' 1st Div of II Corps). Stones River and Chickamauga; it would be consolidated with the 20th Louisiana Infantry, which itself had four Irish companies from New-Orleans. The 13th spearheaded Col Randal Lee Gibson's Louisiana brigade, a reliable formation of veteran fighters that was one of the last Rebel commands to surrender in 1865. Gibson's Louisiana brigade also contained partly Irish companies in the 19th Louisiana Infantry, 4th Louisiana Infantry Battalion, and 14th Louisiana Battalion of Sharpshooters.
The 13th Louisiana arrived in Columbus, Kentucky, in November 1861 without uniforms; the troops were to have new uniforms sent to them from New Orleans, possibly light-colored kepis with darker trim and gray shell jackets with standing collars, shoulder straps, and a single row of brass front buttons. An early-war image of John W. Labouisse, an officer in Co A, shows a zouave-type gray jacket fastened by 11 small ball buttons, with light-colored trim on the pointed cuffs, rank bars sewn on the down-turned collar, and full-cut gray pants with a dark stripe. This uniform could have been inspired by the six-company Avegno Zouaves (or Battalion of Governor's Guards)
that formed part of the 13th Louisiana; the Avegno Zouaves wore dark blue jackets and red pants. The 13th Louisiana carried Austrian and F.nfield rifles.
Major John E. Austin's 14th Louisiana Sharpshooters battalion earned a commendable reputation as skirmishers, and its Cos A and B Ijoasted at least 30 Irish names on roll. A surviving jacket worn by Pvt John A. Dolan shows that the battalion was fairly well uniformed even in the last few months of the war, when it was stationed at Spanish Fort near Mobile. Dolan wore a Department of Alabama gray shell jacket with a single row of five brass buttons, a standing collar of dark blue and an exterior pocket on the left. Dolan surrendered with this command at Meridian. Mississippi, on May 12, 1865.
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