#OnThisDay 1864 Colonel Patrick Kelly, from Galway, the commander of the Irish Brigade was shot dead as he led his men at the Battle of Petersburg. ‘Raising his unsheathed sword in front of the brigade he urged the men forward. A Confederate bullet struck him in the forehead killing him instantly.’ His men revered him and it was said that upon his death;
“strong old veteran soldiers wept like children & wrung their hands in frenzy”.
Kelly had previously led the Irish Brigade in other battles, most famously at the Battle of Gettysburg. It was recommended by General Meade and by President Lincoln that he receive his Brigadier General star but it never happened. By 1864, the Irish Brigade was a shadow of its former self. Captain Wall wrote
“But I grieve to tell you, that it is a Brigade no longer, and, as was said to me, yesterday, by one of our trustiest ‘Faugh-a-Ballaugh’s’ – a gallant little officer who first served under and fought by the side of the heroic Captain Clooney – ‘without the protection of Providence, the remnant of our heroic little Brigade will lose what it has won; for all that now remains of it is the recollection of its services and suffering.”