July 9th, 2012: Officers of the Irish Brigade

Posted on: 07/09/2012

150 years ago in July of 1862 the men of the Army of the Potomac found themselves with extra time on their hands as they lay mostly idle at Harrison’s Landing on the James River.  Around that time a few officers of the famous Irish Brigade sat for a photo, and among them was a man whose statue you’ve probably passed many time on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

This photo by Alexander Gardner shows five men, some of whom were chaplains, of the Irish Brigade.  The man seated at bottom right was Father William Corby, the chaplain who famously gave absolution to the Irish Brigade as they marched south along Cemetery Ridge to fight in the Wheatfield on July 2nd at Gettysburg. 

Corby survived the war and went on to become president of University of Notre Dam, and possibly named that school’s sports team the Fighting Irish after his comrades in the Civil War.

On the Gettysburg Battlefield there is a statue of Corby along Hancock Avenue, just a few hundred yards south of the Pennsylvania Memorial.  The statue marks the approximate location where Corby gave absolution on July 2nd, 1863.

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