NY Guard Honors The Valiant Charge of The Irish Brigade

The 88th Area Command of The New York Guard (State Defense Force) recently visited The Queens Calvary Cemetery to honor the ancestral unit from which they are descended from, The 88th New York Infantry. Every year in December, members of The 88th Area Command hold a ceremony to honor this legendary unit for the actions they performed on December 13th 1862 during The Battle of Fredricksburg. The 88th New York Infantry was part of the famed Irish Brigade that assaulted The Confederate line at Marye’s Heights.

The assault on Marye’s Heights during The Battle of Fredrickburg was one of the most astonishing moments in The American Civil War. Due to confusion within The Army’s senior leadership, The Irish Brigade along with other units were ordered to attack a stone wall held by The Confederates. The order required that The Irish Brigade rush up to a crest of a hill that faced a stone wall held by The Confederates. They were then ordered to fire volleys into the Confederate Line, all with no cover or protection. During this attack The Soldiers of The Irish Brigade took a horrendous loss in casualties. About 1 in 2 soldiers in the unit were killed or wounded. The Confederates were astounded by the incredible courage and toughness of The Irish Brigade, as they followed orders that put them in such a hazardous position, and absorb appalling casualties, yet still carried out those orders. From that moment on The Irish Brigade was renown not only in The Union Army but the Confederate Army as well as being one of the toughest and fearless military units in history.

New York Guard Recognizes its Civil War Lineage in Annual Memorial Commemoration

Photos by WO1 Ed Shevlin and Spc Chuck Garelick / Story by WO1 Ed Shevlin – New York Guard Public Affairs

Fifty members of the New York Guard, the state’s volunteer defense force, marked the sacrifice of the Civil War’s famed Irish Brigade in the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg at the Irish Brigade Monument at Queens Calvary Cemetery on Dec. 10, 2022.

The New York Guardsmen were led by members of the 88th Area Command, which takes its name from the 88th New York Infantry, which was part of the Irish Brigade made up of Irish immigrants.

It was the 25th time the event has been commemorated.

The focus of the commemoration by the New York Guard is to recognize and remember the participation of the Union Army’s Irish Brigade in the Battle of Fredericksburg, according to 2nd Lt. Michael Rogers, who commands a detachment of the 88th Area Command.

Rodgers is the great-great grandson of Sgt. William Rodgers who served in the 88th Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

“We have some of my great-great grandad’s documents, including his discharge papers. My family is enormously proud of his service to his new country and his spirit remains strong in our hearts,” Rodgers said.

December 10 was the day before the 160th anniversary of the start of the battle which began on Dec. 11 and ended on Dec. 15, 1862.

On Dec. 11 the Union Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock River and occupied the town of Fredericksburg. The intention had been to head for the Confederate capital at Richmond. But the Confederate Army occupied the hills blocking the path.

On Dec. 13 the Army of the Potomac attacked the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The Irish Brigade, which included the 69th and 63rd New York regiments assaulted enemy positions on Marye’s Heights and suffered heavy losses.

The Union Army lost the battle, but the Irish Brigades courage under fire was noted by everybody on the battlefield, including Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

“It is a great honor to march under the colors of the 88th Regiment. The sacrifices and bravery of our forebears must never be forgotten,” said 1st Sgt. Joseph Ronda, who headed the color guard.

Colonel Stephen Ryan, the New York Guard chief of staff spoke about e history of the battle, its connection, and significance to the current members of the 88th.

Ryan’s comments were followed by the playing of taps and a rifle salute.

The salute was fired by the members of the Veterans Corps of Artillery, a historic military unit.

John McManus, the pipe major emeritus of the County Tyrone Pipe and Drum Band led the color guard during a precession to the monument from the cemetery chapel.

Those present also placed five wreaths of boxwood at the monument, representing the five regiments of the brigade, which also included two Massachusetts Irish regiments.

As the Irish Brigade went into the assault on December 13, they placed sprigs of green boxwood in their hats to mark their Irish heritage.

“Their deeds were beyond memorable. How could we not pay tribute to them? I am honored to have placed a wreath today, “said Spc. Britta Hussack.

To view all the pictures from this event visit https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAosjo

Source: New York GuardThe History Channel

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