The monument to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac is south of Gettysburg on Sickles Avenue in the Rose Woods. (Sickles Avenue – Rose Woods tour map) Irish Americans exclusively made up the brigade for most of its history, although a Massachusetts regiment of Yankees was attached for a short time.
Colonel Patrick Kelly commanded the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg. Colonel Kelly was born in County Galway, Ireland and emigrated to the United States before the Civil War. He became captain of Company E of the 69th New York State Militia at the start of the war, fighting at Bull Run. Kelly became lieutenant colonel of the the 88th New York Infantry Regiment when it was formed in September of 1861. He was in command of the regiment at Antietam as senior officer. Kelly became colonel in October of 1862. He led the regiment in the charge on Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg, where it advanced closer to the stone wall than any other unit.
Kelly commanded the Irish Brigade after Fredericksburg while Brigadier General Meagher recovered from injuries. He took over again after Chancellorsville when Meagher resigned. Kelly resumed regimental command when Colonel Richard Byrnes returned to the brigade in May of 1864. But Kelly once more took over brigade command when Byrnes was killed two weeks later at Cold Harbor. Kelly died only two weeks after that, leading an attack by the brigade at Petersburg.
From the monument
July 2. Arrived at 7 A. M. and took position on line from Cemetery Hill to Round Top at right of First Brigade. Between 5 and 6 P. M. went with Division to left First Brigade on the left Third Brigade on right. Engaged the Confederate forces including Brig. Gen. Anderson’s Brigade Major Gen. Hood’s Division in the Wheatfield and forced them through the field southerly into woods beyond capturing many prisoners. The Fourth Brigade having advanced on the left this Brigade held its position until the Division being flanked on right and left retired and resumed former position in line of the Corps.
July 3. Constructed breastworks and remained entrenched until the close of the battle.
Casualties Killed 1 Officer 26 Men Wounded 4 Officers 105 Men Captured or Missing 2 Officers 60 Men Total 198
Location of the monument
The monument is south of Gettysburg on the west side of Ayers Avenue. It is about 200 yards south of Wheatfield Road. (39°47’51.0″N 77°14’44.5″W)