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While the regiments were being raised, a group of patriotic ladies formed a committee to provide an embroidered stand of colours for each of the New York regiments of the Irish Brigade. On November 18th, 1861, amid much ceremony, these flags were presented to the men who would carry them into battle.  The flags were made of the richest silk, executed in "Tiffany's best style."  Each regiment received a national and a regimental flag, and a pair of guidons. The national colors were fringed with saffron silk, with the name of the regiment embroidered in the center on a crimson stripe. 
The regimental colors were "of a deep rich green, heavily fringed, having in the center a richly embroidered Irish harp, with a sunburst above it and a wreath of shamrock beneath. Underneath, on a crimson scroll, in Irish characters from Oisín, was the motto, 'They shall never retreat from the charge of lances.' 
THE BALLAD OF THE SIXTY-NINTH
Clouds black with thunder o'er the southern states;
North, East and West a sickening fear;
The Union on the dark laps of the Fates,
And nowhere signs the skies would clear. 
Would hate haul down the flag we loved so well
The star-flag that at Yorktown flew?
For answer came the hurtling of a shell,
With the Union cleft in two!
Never since out of chaos the world
Sang with such resolve as took us then:
"Thro' blood and fire, with that brave flag unfurled
The Union shall be whole again."
At Lincoln's call men swarmed from towns and farms:
An ecstasy shook all the land.
Tramp! tramp! the people's bravest rose in arms
With them the Irish took their stand.
For here their slave rags had away been cast.
Freedom had met them at the door.
To share such empire lovelit, rich and vast
As never fronted men before.
Our great Republic! Shall the kings behold.
Neath slavery's thrust, its overthrow?
Loud, righteous, quick our regiment's answered rolled
The Irish Sixty-ninth says, "No!"
Tramp! Tramp! At Corcoran's command they've swung
Down Broadway's length a thousand strong.
Their green flag by grand Old glory flung.
Their steps like music to the cheering throng.
The great Archbishop, blessing rank and file,
Bends o'er them- soldier, gun and blade.
On every face the bold-heart Irish smile
That looks in Death's eyes unafraid.
Mother of Irish regiments, march in pride;
No idle presage in your tread!
The way is long; the battle ground is wide;
High will be the roster of your dead.
Ever you'll find the battle's crest and front,
Then march to seek new fighting ground:
Ever, when shattered in the battle brunt.
Men for the gaps will still be found.
You'll be baptized in fire at Blackburn's Ford.
Bull Run shall see two hundred fall-
You facing south when north the rout has poured:
At Rappahannock like a wall:
You'll strike at Fair Oaks; clash at Gaines's Mill.
And tramp like tigers over Malvern Hill:
Stand and be hammered at Chancellorsville:
Antietam's corn shall redden at your name.
The while you deal the blow that stuns;
At Marye's Heights your men shall feed on flame.
Up to the muzzles of the guns;
At Gettysburg fire-dwindled on you'll press.
And then re-manned again seek fight;
All through the tangle of the Wilderness.
You'll battle day and night:
At Petersburg you'll spring to the assault:
Only at Appomattox shall you halt!
Let Nugent, Meagher, Cavanagh be praised.
MacMahon, Kelly, Haggerty, Clark.
But the thousands three the regiment raised.
As surely bore the hero-mark.
Fame's darling child, the sixty-ninth shall shine
Never in duty's hour to lag;
Forty-eight times in battle line.
Never, never to lose a flag.
Tramp! Tramp! you saw the Union split in twain
Tramp! Tramp! you saw the nation whole.
Your red blood flowed in torrents not in vain:
It fed the great Republic's soul.
Your drums still roll: your serried ranks still form:
From manhood's service no release:
Ready at call to ride the battle-storm,
And, in God's time, the Guard of Peace

Joseph I. C. Clarke

 

Copyright © 2006 Waterford History