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Kelly's Irish Brigade


REbel Troops Yankee Troops

Many, many Civil War companies, regiments, brigades were either almost entirely Irish or at least predominately so. This was due in the main to the huge influx of poor Irish immigrants during and after the great potato famine of the 1840's and 50's. Millions left Old Ireland either in coffin ships or coffins with the greatest proportion of the still living coming to the United States. So desperate were many of these men that upon stepping off the boat, sometimes literally, they signed up with recruiting officers for the steady pay of $13 a month at the beginning of the war.

This tune in not about the famous Union Irish Brigade commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced máh-ar), but rather a Missouri regiment of Confederate troops led by a Colonel Kelly. The unknown author of the lyrics chose a tune best known today as Rosin the Beau and "promoted" his regiment to a full brigade (usually consisting of 3 - 4 regiments) for which, I suppose, we may forgive him.

1. Kelly's Irish Brigade

Tune: Rosin the Beau

Listen all ye that hold communion with
Southern Confederates so bold,
And I'll tell of some men for the Union who
In northern ranks were enrolled.
They came to Missouri in their glory and
Thought at their might we'd be dismayed,
But they soon had a different story when
They met Kelly's Irish Brigade.

When they met with the Irish Brigade, my boys.
When they met with the Irish Brigade.
Didn't those cowardly Lincolnites tremble when
They met with the Irish Brigade.

They have called us rebels and traitors, but
Themselves have been called that of late.
They were called it by the English invaders at home
In the year of '98.
The name to us is not a new one, though
'Tis one that shall never degrade
Any true hearted Irishman in the ranks
Of Kelly's Irish Brigade.

They dare not call us invaders. 'Tis
but states' rights and liberty we ask.
And Missouri we'll ever defend her no
Matter how hard the task.
Then let all true Irishmen assemble. Let
The voice of Missouri be obeyed.
And the northern fanatics will tremble when next
They meet Kelly's Irish Brigade.