BLUE FOR THE UNION & GREEN FOR IRELAND
JULY 4, 1865 — NEW YORK CITY|
With the war at an end, the Fourth of July celebrations in 1865 were conducted with added enthusiasm and patriotic joy. The New York legislature fixed that date for the public presentation to the governor of the flags that had previously been deposited in the Bureau of Military Statistics and those of newly demobilized regiments. Nearly three hundred banners were presented that day, including one belonging to the 63rd New York — the worn-out Third National (1863 New York City) Colors. Since the 63rd had not yet been mustered out, it would still be a month before its last flags — the Fourth (1865 New York City) Colors — were turned in. Among the dignitaries witnessing the Fourth of July presentation was General Ulysses S. Grant. As the ceremonies were beginning in Albany, the three New York regiments of the Irish Brigade were participating in their last parade — the grand Fourth of July celebration in New York City. The New York regiments had arrived in New York on July 3 and were immediately issued orders regarding the parade:
HEADQUARTERS, Irish Brigade, July 3, 1865.
This Brigade will parade to-morrow, July 4, with the First Division, N.Y. State Militia, by invitation of Major General Sanford. Line will be formed at the Barracks, at five o'clock, A. M. The men will appear in light marching order, carrying only their [arms and] canteens. By order of
ROBERT NUGENT, Brevet Brig. Gen.
Evidently the Second (Tiffany) Colors were to be left at the barracks, the New York Freeman's Journal reporting that:
. . . the old colors of the brigade, which flew defiantly in so many fierce storms, will be carried on the occasion. . . .
The New York Tribune presented an extended account of the Fourth of July parade in its July 6 edition. This account confirms that the First Colors led the regiments in the parade: the only other flags of the regiment that were torn and tattered — the Third (1863 New York) Colors — were at that very moment in Albany being presented to the governor. The Tribune's story presents a vivid picture of the excitement and tumult that greeted the returning Irish Brigade:
. . . there was quite an interval in the procession. German cavalrymen, with helmets resembling ice-cream freezers on their heads, dashed wildly up and down, to keep back the surging crowd. Superintendent Kennedy arrived with a fresh squad of policemen, who seconded their brethren on the ground to the best of their ability; and the vociferous, long-continued and deafening cheering, just around the corner [on] Fourteenth, told more plainly than distinct articulation that it could only be elicited by the approach of
THE IRISH BRIGADE
The 95th New York Militia (a new regiment) and the 69th [Militia] led on the veterans, most of whom appeared to be all but stunned by the character of the demonstrations which their coming excited. The flags which the decimated regiments of this brigade bore, torn to tatters as they were by the lurid tempest of war, were proof enough of the terrible scenes through which the heroes had passed; but evidences of the same effect were stamped in every lineament of their swarthy faces, in every muscle of their brown, horny hands, and in every motion of their free, swift stride. . . .
From the parade the brigade marched to Irving Hall, where it was entertained at a grand homecoming banquet organized by former officers of the brigade and other gentlemen of the city, and then returned to barracks. Ten days later the three New York regiments of the Irish Brigade were dissolved.
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