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October 11, 2006

The Fighting 69th...

On this day in 1860, Colonel Corcoran, commander of the 69th New York State Militia - refused to parade his regiment of Irish immigrants for a visiting dignitary, the Prince of Wales, in protest to the British Government's response to the Irish Famine.

He was arrested, and remanded for Courts Martial. All of which was forgotten when Fort Sumter was fired on and the Civil War opened. Good thing, too - the 69th was a key player at Bull Run, as a part of the Irish Brigade, in that sad way that many Irish regiments are important in history - as bulwarks for retreating armies.

The Fighting 69th still fights.

We also got some good music out of it - and note in the song - the predecessors of the FDNY were "going up when we were coming down" way back in the day, too.

Boys that Wore the Green

Boys that Wore the Green
(William Woodburn)

On the twenty-first of July, beneath the burning sun.
McDowell met the Southern troops in battle, at Bull Run;
Above the Union vanguard, was proudly dancing seen,
Beside the starry banner, old Erin's flag of green.

Colonel Corcoran led the Sixty-ninth on that eventful day,
I wish the Prince of Wales were there to see him in the fray;
His charge upon the batteries was a most glorious scene,
With gallant New York firemen, and the boys that wore the green.

In the hottest of the fire there rode along the line
A captain of a Zouave band, crying, "Now, boys, is your time;"
Ah! who is he so proudly rides, with bold and dauntless mien?
'Tis Thomas Francis Meagher, of Erin's isle of green!

The colors of the Sixty-ninth, I say it without shame,
Were taken in the struggle to swell the victor's fame;
But Farnham's dashing Zouaves, that run with the machine,
Retook them in a moment, with the boys that wore the green!

Being overpowered by numbers, our troops were forced to flee,
The Southern black horse cavalry on them charged furiously;
But in that hour of peril, the flying mass to screen,
Stood the gallant New York firemen, with the boys that wore the green.

Oh, the boys of the Sixty-ninth, they are a gallant band,
Bolder never drew a sword for their adopted land;
Amongst the fallen heroes, a braver had not been,
Than you lamented Haggerty, of Erin's isle of green.

Farewell, my gallant countrymen, who fell that fatal day,
Farewell, ye noble firemen, now mouldering in the clay;
Whilst blooms the leafy shamrock, whilst runs the old machine,
Your deeds will live bold Red Shirts, and Boys that Wore the Green!