Sunday, March 19, 2006

Rallying Round the Flags

Left, the regimental flag of 88th New York.

If any of you were lucky enough to visit the armory of the 69th New York on Lexington Avenue in New York any time before last summer, then you’ll recall that one of the first thing you saw upon entering was two large wooden display cases. In those cases were over 30 furled flags, most of them being flags carried during the Civil War by either that 69th or one of the other regiments of the Irish Brigade.

While it was almost breath-taking to see those relics of that famous brigade on display there, once the awe went away, one was struck with another thought. The cases were very old, and nowhere close to being the state of the art cases with climate control, etc. that such relics deserved. It was obvious that the condition of the flags was deteriorating and they would one day be destroyed if something was not done. Respect for the men who carried them demanded some action be taken, and last summer it was.

Thank to Denyse Montegut, chairwoman of the masters degree program at the “Fashion Institute of Technology” in New York, and her staff these flags are now preserved. The project took six months starting last June. Each flag that was in good enough condition to do so was unfurled and photographed before being rewrapped in acid free paper and mylar.

We send our thanks to Montegut and her team for undertaking this project and completing it. You can read more about it HERE.

Irish Brigade items from the WGT store.

The Irish Brigade in the Civil War: The 69th New York and Other Irish Regiments of the Army of the Potomac Irish Brigades.

This Day in the History of the Irish: On March 20, 1780, Miles Byrne, United Irishman and officer in Napoleon's Irish Legion, was born in Co. Wexford.

Left, the charge of the 5th Dragoon Guards at Vinegar Hill.
National Library of Ireland.

He was active in the 1798 Rising in Wexford and fought all its major battles, right through the rebels' climactic defeat at Vinegar Hill. He escaped to the hills and served with Michael Dwyer until the failure of the rising led by Robert Emmet, a close friend of Byrne's, in 1803. Byrne traveled to France hoping to arrange for more French aid to Ireland but after failing in that he joined the Irish Legion being formed in the French army. He had a long career in the service of France. Byrne rose to command a regiment and was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor. After his retirement he wrote his Memoirs, which were published 1863, a year after his death in Paris.

Read more about This Week in History of the Irish.
Read about the 1798 Rising.

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