The Irish Boys at the Battle of Lexington

A Washington D.C. newspaper, The National Republican, ran a piece in their May 1st 1862 issue claiming that Irishmen in Confederate service had refused to fire on the United States flag during an engagement. Although most probably a propaganda story, it was committed to verse for the benefit of readers. The poem also includes Colonel James A. Mulligan’s ‘Irish Brigade’, the 23rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Mulligan had commanded Union troops at the Battle of Lexington, Missouri in September 1861 against Confederate forces under General Sterling Price.

THE IRISH BOYS

At Winchester, two Irish companies in the rebel service refused to fire on the United States flag.- Louisville Journal.

The Irish boys are bold and brave,

The Irish boys are true;

They love the dear old stars and stripes,

The spangled field of blue.

‘Tis Mulligan can tell the tale,

Of how they fought that day,

When with the foe at Lexington,

They met in bloody fray.

Fast whizzed the shot and murderous shell,

The bullets fell like rain;

But dauntless stood his brave brigade-

The heroes of the plain.

Then pressed the foe, in serried ranks-

But not to them they yield;

Hunger and thirst had done their work,

Before they gave the field.

Oh! honor to the Irish boys,

And cheers of three times three;

Old Ireland is with our side-

I wish that she were free.

The Irish boys are bold and brave

The Irish boys are true;

They love the dear old stars and stripes-

The spangled field of blue.

Oh! brave were those who nobly fought;

But braver still the band,

Who, forced by rebels in their ranks,

United made their stand.

They saw the old and honored flag,

Borne out upon the air,

And not a gun was raised against,

Its floating folds so fair!

Ah! Lexington and Springfield boast

Their heroes true and grand;

But Winchester shall stir men’s hearts

Throughout Columbia’s land.

Oh! honor to the Irish boys,

And cheers of three times three;

For Ireland we’ll fight someday,

And she shall yet be free.                   C.M.

References & Further Reading

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Battle of Lexington State Historic Park

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Categories: 23rd Illinois, Battle of Lexington, Illinois, Kentucky

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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