The Irish Brigade at Antietam: A Photographic Tour

Many of the posts on this site explore elements of the Irish experience at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the Civil War, fought on 17th September 1862. Many of the widow’s pension files that I now concentrate on were created as a result of those day’s events. It was also a battle of unprecedented slaughter for the Irish Brigade. They were sent against the strong Confederate positions along the Sunken Lane, forever now remembered as Bloody Lane. In the process they suffered 540 casualties, including 113 killed outright and 422 wounded. Losses were particularly heavy in the 69th New York and 63rd New York. Last year I had an opportunity to visit the battlefield, and to walk some of the ground covered by the Irish Brigade that day. The photo gallery below is an attempt to present readers who may not have had that opportunity with some of the key locations that formed part of the Irish Brigade’s experience of that dreadful battle. You can view the gallery as a slideshow by clicking on any of the images below.

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Categories: 63rd New York, 69th New York, 88th New York, Battle of Antietam, Irish Brigade

Author:Damian Shiels

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

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13 Comments on “The Irish Brigade at Antietam: A Photographic Tour”

  1. August 2, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

    What comes across from the images is how remarkably similar the battle was to some of those on the Western Front in the Great War – minus the machine guns!The Confederates were in a trench effectively along the Sunken Lane and the Irish Brigade was advancing along a ‘no man’s land’ at times fully exposed to Confederate fire.

    I wonder if the memorial to General Richardson is a cannon used in the battle?.

    • Mike Fitzpatrick, Massapequa Park NY
      August 3, 2015 at 4:09 am #

      Regarding the mortuary cannon for General Richardson, it was dedicated October 15, 1897, almost 35 years to the day of Richardson’s death on November 3, 1862. It might depend on if the cannon had been left at the battlefield afterwards. I would think most of the artillery was taken with the armies after the battle and used through to the end of the war. It certainly is something to think about.

      Mike Fitzpatrick

      • September 1, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for that info!

    • September 1, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi Tony,

      The areas where Generals were slain is often represented this way on Civil War sites, though I am not sure of the origins of the pieces, would be interesting to know. There are certainly some similarities, particularly as the war went on towards its ultimate conclusion.

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

  2. Mike Fitzpatrick, Massapequa Park NY
    August 3, 2015 at 4:19 am #

    Damian,
    Great post! I’m glad to see that you were able to tour Antietam Battlefield. I think it is probably the best preserved battlefield due to the lack of commercial encroachment.
    I had the great experience of following the footsteps of the Irish Brigade into the battle with reknowned Civil War Historian and Battlefield Guide, Ed Bearss. He along with historian Dennis Frye took us from the Roulette Farm to Bloody Lane and every step of the way informed us of the activities of the Brigade. It was amazing when they demonstrated the terrain and how one regiment was virtually hidden though right on top of the Confederates and how the others were slaughtered……..and of course there is the dispute regarding Meagher being drunk and falling from his horse or whether the animal was shot out from under him……..once again, great stuff!!!
    …….btw……check out Ed Bearss!…….the man is now 92 years young and still giving battlefield walks and tours!!!

    Best regards,
    Mike Fitzpatrick

    • September 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      Hi Mike,

      Hope all is well and many thanks for the comment. The Antietam visit was a fascinating day, I am going to have to go back though, there is so much to see. I would love to enjoy a site like it with Ed Bearss! Can’t wait to get back Stateside to try and visit a few more similar sites.

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

  3. John Murphy
    August 3, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Damian,
    Great sequence of photos to help understand the movements of the IrishBrigade.
    I’m back in the states after my stay in Cork. Good visit.

  4. Cóilín Ó Coigligh, Virginia, Ireland
    August 6, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Hi Damian,

    Great a talk in Cavan today-I was spellbound. Your research to date is only the tip of the iceberg and I can’t wait for the rest.
    As the post above is about Antietam, I did notice that all the speakers today pronunced it as “Anteetam” whereas I believe the locals pronounce it as “An tie (as in what you might wear) am”.

    • September 1, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi Cóilín,

      Many thanks and glad you enjoyed it, and it was good to meet you!

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

  5. November 22, 2015 at 2:10 am #

    Nicely done! Well presented as well. I would have never thought to make the photo log. I enjoyed it.

  6. Jim Murphy
    October 23, 2016 at 5:49 am #

    Thanks so much, Jim Murphy, Baltimore Maryland.

    On Sun, Aug 2, 2015 at 1:02 PM, Irish in the American Civil War wrote:

    > Damian Shiels posted: “Many of the posts on this site explore elements of > the Irish experience at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of > the Civil War, fought on 17th September 1862. Many of the widow’s pension > files that I now concentrate on were created as a resu” >

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