The Irish Brigade crossed the Rappahannock river at Fredericksburg… a shadow of its former self. Three months earlier, along the banks of the Antietam Creek, the Irish Brigade marched to glory with more than 2,000 men. At Fredericksburg, the newly arrived 28th Massachusetts regiment bolstered the ranks to 1,200, but the veteran regiments had been decimated during the campaigns of 1862.
**Don Troiani’s “Garry Owen” – General Meagher salutes his troops crossing the Rapphannock
Four Union brigades were beaten back… in front of the stone wall at Marye’s Heights. The Irish Brigade was next in the fight and started their advance at 1230pm. The men were briefly unsettled by a muddy canal ditch in the shadow of a low ridge. The order was given to reform and after a brief pause, bayonets were fixed. An officer remembered those harrowing moments: “In a few minutes came the word, ‘Attention!’ and every man was upon his feet again; then ‘Fix bayonets!’ and as this was being done, the clink, clink of the cold steel sounding along the line made one’s blood run cold.” Officers and men fell rapidly as casualties mounted across the front of the stone wall. Despite the harrowing losses, the brigade pushed on toward the wall, battling other Irish immigrants. Of all the Union troops which assaulted Marye’s Heights on December 13, the Irish Brigade advanced the farthest.