The Confederate capital at Richmond was home to the Montgomery Guard (Co C, 1st Regiment of Virginia Volunteers), organized from the city's Irish immigrant population in 1850. In July 1859 the Montgomery Guard set aside its traditional green dress and adopted the 1st Virginia's new regimental uniform: black dress caps, gray frock coats with black trim, gray pants, white belts and
Capt George Horner, 1st Vir Infantry Battalion ("Irish Battalion"), wears a gray overcoat and a forage cap gray overcoats. The fatigue uniform included gray kepis with black bands and gray nine-button jackets with black trim. The Montgomeries retained the green uniform for special occasions, and wore it when they paraded on St Patrick's Day, 1861; they also displayed their flag, the "stars and stripes, the first in a ground work of green surrounding the harp of Erin." The Montgomery Guard's former Capt Patrick T. Moore, a native of County Galway, commanded the 1st Virginia at First Bull Run, where the company was conspicuous in helping blunt a Federal advance at Blackburn's Ford on July 18, 1861. At this time the 1st Virginia probably wore a mixture of the regiment's gray frock coats and fatigue jackets, the Montgomeries in black 1858 dress hats ("Jeff Davis" hats). This clothing was soon in need of replacement, and in October the regiment received the familiar gray shell jackets that became so common among Confederate troops.
With the outbreak of war, Irish volunteer companies also appeared in the Alexandria area. The Irish Volunteers, an artillery company (Co C, 19th Battalion Virginia Heavy Artillery), did duty in the fortifications around Richmond. The Emmet Guards and O'Connell Guards went into the 17th Virginia Infantry Regiment in June 1861 as Cos G & I; this unit subsequently served with the Army of Northern Virginia (e.g. at Fredericksburg, in Corse's Bde, Pickett's Div of Longstreet's I Corps.) The Emmet Guards had adopted locally made green fatigue jackets and pants in May 1861, and (like other companies in the 17th Virginia) they wore their own distinctive uniforms until they wore out, probably byjune 1861. They were issued altered flintlock muskets, but without cartridges or caps. Like other Virginia units, the 17th Virginia was eventually issued Richmond Depot Type II plain gray nine-button jackets.
A handful of Irish companies, recruited primarily from rail workers, formed in the Virginia mountains, but next to nothing is known about their uniforms. Charlottesville furnished the Montgomery Guards (Co F, 19th Virginia Infantry), while the Jeff Davis Guards (Co H, 11th Virginia Infantry) hailed from Lynchburg. In the famous Stonewall Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia two companies were Irish: the Virginia Hibernians (Co B, color company of the 27th Virginia Infantry) from Alleghany County; and the Emerald Guard (Co E, 33rd Virginia Infantry) from New Market. There is a well-known account of the 33rd Virginia wearing blue uniforms at First Bull Run, when it helped turn the tide by capturing Union batteries near the Henry House. These could have been volunteer militia uniforms, but there is no record of the Emerald Guard adding any distinctions of their own.
The Emerald Guard were at first thought to be "unmanageable Irishmen" with a reputation for drinking and brawling. The devout "Stonewall" Jackson detached the company from the regiment in December 1861 and assigned it to temporary duty as field artillery. But the Emerald Guard atoned for its earlier bad conduct, returning to the
Capt George Horner, 1st Vir Infantry Battalion ("Irish Battalion"), wears a gray overcoat and a forage cap
33rd Virginia in the spring of 1862; company commander George R. Bedinger wrote "I am very much pleased with the conduct of my Irishmen; the)' are enthusiastic and have at the same time obedience."
The 1st Virginia Infantry Battalion (Irish Battalion) was another command that had disciplinary problems. Four of the battalion's five companies were Irish, formed in Richmond, Norfolk, Alexandria, Covington and Lynchburg. After Maj David B. Bridgford took over the tinit discipline improved, and the Irish Battalion discovered its forte - as the Army of Northern Virginia's provost guard, rounding up stragglers and guarding prisoners. The battalion did such a commendable job in its new assignment that it redeemed itself and earned a new reputation - as the "Irish cops" of the Confederacy.
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