Memphis, the second largest center of Irish population in the Deep South after New Orleans, was home to a number of Irish units. Ladies of the city made up uniforms in the spring of 1861 for Col Knox Walker's 2nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment (Irish Regiment). An image probably made in May or June 1861 shows Pvt John Rulle of Co K wearing a dark-colored kepi with light trim, a dark eight-button frock coat with plain standing collar, light-colored pants, and a black waist belt with oval brass plate. The Irish Regiment was armed at first with flintlocks or conversion muskets. 1862 issues included jackets, pants, flannel shirts, canteens and haversacks.
Heavy losses suffered by the regiment at Shiloh (with Bushrod Johnson's Bde of Cheatham's 2nd Div, II Corps) led to its consolidation with the 21st Tennessee Infantry, which also included several Irish-American companies from Memphis. The result was the 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment, one of the most reliable regiments in the South. The 5th Confederate was a favorite of MajGen Patrick R. Cleburne, and it was with him when he fell at the head of one of the Rebel charges at Franklin in November 1864.
The I54th Tennessee Infantry, commanded during much of the war by Col Michael Magevney, included Irish volunteer militia companies. Memphis' Jackson Guards (Co C, organized in 1858) had adopted a conventional militia uniform: dark blue coat faced red, white pants, and a "West Point hat." The Crockett Rangers (Co H) from Memphis and the Henry Guards (Co F) from Paris were two other predominantly Irish companies. This regiment suffered heavy casualties at Shiloh (serving in Bushrod Johnson's Bde with the old 2nd Tennessee) and at Stones River.
There were also Memphis Irish in Co E, 2nd Tennessee Infantry (Bate's) and in Cos B, C (Montgomery Guard) and H of the 15th Tennessee Infantry (Carroll's). These two regiments experienced heavy losses at Shiloh, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and Nashville. Memphis Irish formed the nucleus of Capt William L. Scott's Artillery
Col Patrick T. Moore, 1st Regt Virginia Volunteers. The former captain of Richmond's Montgomery Guard, Moore commanded the 1st Virginia at First Bull Run, where (to the delight of his troops) he shouted the Gaelic war cry "Faugh a Ballagh!" (National Archives)
Battery, which fought to the last at Missionary Ridge before being overrun; there were insufficient survivors to re-form the unit.
Colonel Randal W. McGavock's 10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment ("Sons of Erin") contained Irish companies from Nashville, McEwen, Clarksville and Pulaski. The "Sons of Erin" carried a green flag with an Irish gold harp; they were issued gray caps, jackets, and pants with scarlet trim in September 18(>1, and were initially armed with flintlock muskets. A small but hard-fighting (and hard-drinking) unit that shrank through attrition, the 10th Tennessee saw action at Chickamauga (in John Gregg's Bde,Johnson's Div of Buckner's ("tups). Missionary Ridge, in the Atlanta campaign and at Franklin. McGavock was killed in action at Raymond, Mississippi, in May 1863; he was succeeded by aggressive Col William ("Battling Billy") Grace, who was killed at Jonesboro in 1864. Major John G. ("Gentleman Johnny") O'Neill led the 10th Tennessee's efficient sharpshooter detachment before succeeding to command of the regiment.
Was this article helpful?