Charleston had a large Irish community and Irish-American volunteer militia units that dated from the 1780s. The oldest, the Irish Volunteers,
received a green company flag made by the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and blessed by Bishop Patrick Lynch. The Charleston Daily Courier of September 12, 1861, described it as "made of the richest white and green silk, gold fringed, with eleven golden stars on each side, over beautiful wreaths of oak leaves, olive and the shamrock. On one side is the inscription, over all, of 'Erin Go Bragh.' On the reverse is the palmetto, embroidered in white, set off with golden spangles. In the right hand corner is the Crescent, and, above the palmetto, the motto, 'Et Presidium Et Dulce Deus.'"
As Co C, Charleston Infantry Battalion (1st South Carolina Infantry Battalion), the Irish Volunteers were stauoned at Fort Sumter early in the war, and in other defensive forts around the city. They formed part of the Rebel garrison at Fort Wagner that thwarted a bloody Federal assault (spearheaded by the African-American 54th Massachusetts Infantry) in July 1863. After the Federals finally reduced Fort Sumter to a pile of rubble in September 1863, the exhausted Irish Volunteers were assigned to the 27th South Carolina Infantry for service in Virginia.
The Irish Volunteers traditionally wore green uniforms; the New York Illustrated News in February 1861 reported "two companies of Irishmen in green and silver" in Charleston. The dress uniform was probably a dark blue shako with green band and white feather plume, dark green coatee trimmed with silver braid, and blue pants with wide silver stripes. The company adopted a fatigue uniform in December 1860, probably forage caps, gray frock coats or jackets (possibly with green trim), and grav pants. By early 1864 they were wearing standard Confederate clothing and carrying Enfield rifles.
After the Irish Volunteers went into service with the Charleston Battalion, the remaining Irish companies in the city - Montgomery Guards, Sarsfield Light Infantry, Jasper Greens, and Meagher Guards (who changed their name to Emerald Light Infantry) consolidated themselves into the New Irish Volunteers (Co Kof Col Maxey Gregg's 1st South Carolina Volunteers). The New Irish Volunteers became the 1st South Carolina's color company, and saw extensive combat in Virginia.
The New Irish Volunteers may originally have worn gray forage caps (possibly with palmettos and the numeral "1" above "S.C.V." and company initials), gray frock coats with green trim on the collars, and gray pants. Although 1st South Carolina Volunteers officers at first wore dark blue kepis, frock coats (with a single row of nine silver buttons, and shoulder rank insignia) and pants, the New Irish Volunteers' Capt Edward McCrady wore a gray kepi with an emerald-green band edged with gold trim top and bottom; he was still wearing it when he commanded the regiment at Second Bull Run in August 1862 (in Maxey Gregg's Bde of A.P. Hill's Light Division). M1842 muskets were issued in
June 1861. By 1862 most of the regiment wore gray jackets, pants and caps, with blue trim.
The New Irish Volunteers also received a distinctive company flag in September 1861. The Charleston Daily Cmirier described it as "rich white and green silk, with silver fringe, and eleven silver stars on each side. In the middle, on one side, is a Cross, with an Irish harp encircled by a wreath of oak leaves, palmetto and shamrock combined. Over the Cross is the inscription - 'In hoc signo Vinces'. On the reverse is a very handsomely executed painting of a palmetto tree with the rattlesnake coiled round its trunk — the whole presenting a very natural and life-like appearance. Around the palmetto is a wreath of oak leaves, palmetto and shamrock. Underneath is the inscription, 'Liberty or Death.'"
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