Cavan Callaghan, the hero of my recent release from Highland Press, Coming Home, is a veteran of the Irish Brigade who fought bravely at Antietam. I’ve always found the Irish Brigade fascinating because it was comprised of immigrants who fought for a country that offered them refuge from famine and tyranny. There’s too much history to put it all into one blog post, so I’ve pulled together some fun facts about the Irish Brigade.
The idea of an Irish Brigade was not a new one. Irish units fought under many foreign flags, including that of Spain and Mexico.
From Coming Home:
“Tell me about the battle.”
A cold shudder shot through him, and all of a sudden he was back on that battlefield, guns pounding, horses and men screaming, his friends and comrades falling all around him. But what had really terrified him was knowing that somewhere on that battlefield, his little brother was alone and unprotected…
…”The battle was total confusion.” He squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated on Ashleen’s nearness in an effort to tell the story without breaking down. “It was hot — so hot — and humid, though it was already September.” He paused, the poignant memory knifing through him. “At home, the leaves would have started to turn, and frost would have been dusting the fields.”
And the stench of death had been in the air. So different from the smells of crisp northern breezes and freshly baled hay he’d been used to.
“We came up to the top of the ridge. We were to pause at the crest of the hill and fire two volleys, then rush the Rebs with bayonets. They were waiting for us – troops from North Carolina. There was a huge sound, like a thunderclap. Gunfire. Lots of it.”