American Civil War Monuments
Irish Brigade Monument
Gettysburg National Military Park
Text and Photo courtesy of LCWRT Member Charlie Moore
The Irish Brigade, originally organized by Thomas Francis Meagher, was led at Gettysburg by Colonel Patrick Kelly. The brigade was made up of 5 regiments: the 28th Massachusetts, 63rd New York, 69th New York, 88th New York, and the 116th Pennsylvania. The brigade had been shattered at both Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and arrived on the battlefield at Gettysburg with only 532 men in the entire brigade. 224 of these men were in the 28th Massachusetts. The other four regiments averaged only 75 men each.
On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, the Irish Brigade and 3 other brigades of Brigadier General John C. Caldwell’s Division of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock's 2nd Corps charged across the Wheat Field and momentarily pushed out the Confederate troops who had taken possession of it. Caldwell’s Division was shortly forced to retreat after being hit by heavy Confederate reinforcements. The Irish Brigade suffered 221 casualties during their brief encounter at the Wheat Field, or 40.5%. The monument was dedicated on July 2, 1888, the 25th anniversary of the battle. At the base lies a life size Irish Wolfhound in bronze, representing faith and devotion.