28th Massachusetts Regiment Irish Brigade 3×5 Flag

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4th Regiment Volunteer Infantry “Tiffany Flag”

The 28th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was one of many Irish Catholic regiments to serve in the US Army during the Civil War. Recruited from Boston and Framingham, they were the second all-Irish volunteer regiment to be raised from Massachusetts (the first one being the 9th Massachusetts) and were known for their green battle flag and Gaelic war cry, “Faugh a Ballagh” which means “Clear the Way”. By the late fall of 1861, the 28th was recruited up to full strength and mustered into service on December 13th, 1861. Shortly thereafter, they were presented with a set of battle flags. The first being a United States National flag and the other a Massachusetts state flag.  Eight days later, they were presented with a third flag boasting patriotic and Irish slogans and imagery against an emerald green background. This flag was refered to as the “Pilot” flag becuse of an illustration of a color bearer holding the flag that appeared in an Irish-Catholic newspaper called “The Pilot”. It was decided that this green flag would be carried alongside the national flag rather than the state flag. The 28th saw its first action at the Battle of Secessionville in June 1862. The 28th went on to fight at Second Bull Run and Chantilly. During General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia’s first incursion into the north, the 28th was assigned to General Benjamin Butler’s 9th Corps where it distinguished itself as an effective and brave fighting force at the bloody Battle of Antietam in September of 1862. On November 23rd, 1862, nearly a year after being formed, the 28th Massachusetts was finally assigned to General Thomas F Meagher’s famous Irish Brigade, joining three all-Irish New York regiments, (the 63rd, 69th, and 88th) as well as the 116th Pennsylvania (also an all-Irish regiment from Philadelphia). The 28th Massachusetts replaced the 29th Massachusetts, which was a mostly Yankee regiment that was assigned to the Irish Brigade in order to bring it up to full strength. The 29th was reassigned to the 9th Corps. With this change, the 28th Massachusetts became the “4th Irish Regiment” thus making the Irish Brigade all-Irish. Upon joining the Irish Brigade, General Meagher presented the 28th Massachusetts with a fine embroidered green battle flag very similar to the ones already being carried by the three New York regiments. Meagher had these flags made by Tiffany’s of New York all at about the same time. He knew that an all-Irish regiment from Massachusets would eventually be joining the brigade so he had the extra flag made, but since he had no way of knowing what their unit number would be, the flag simply states “4th Regt. Irish Brigade” in the top scroll. The bottom scroll bears the Gaelic phrase “Riamh Nar Dhruid O Sbairn Lann”, which means “Who never retreated from the Clash of Spears.” A gold harp appears in the center of the green field while a bank of clouds with rays of sunlight shining through is just above and an arrangement of shamrocks is below the harp. The three New York regiments had already carried their Tiffany-made flags into battle for several months and they were quite bloodstained and torn. General Meagher sent them back home to be replaced. Although the 116th Pennsylvania was an all-Irish regiment, they did not carry a distinctive green battle flag. So the 28th Massachusetts was the only regiment in the Irish Brigade with a green flag on December 13th, 1862 when the Irish Brigade was ordered to charge up the hill at Marye’s Heights during the battle of Fredericksburg. Meagher ordered the men of his Irish Brigade to attach green sprigs of boxwood to their caps to distinguish themselves as Irish. The 28th Massachusetts was placed in the center of the brigade with their green flag at the fore as the men of the brigade rallied behind it and charged up the hill under heavy rifle and cannon fire. The green flag was seen advancing up the hill again and again only to be beaten back each time by the hail of bullets and grapeshot that were being poured down on them by the Confederate defenders holding the high ground. So impressive was the bravery of the men who charged up the hill in the face of almost certain destruction, the Confederates applauded and offer cheers of admiration and respect for the tenacity of their enemy. The 28th Massachusetts suffered 158 casualties of the 416 men that charged up the hill that day while the overall casualties of the Irish Brigade were 535. The Irish Brigade went on to fight at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor, the Seige of Petersburg, and Appomattox Courthouse where General Lee finally surrendered. The Irish Brigade had such a reputation as hard and effective fighters they were very often placed at the forefront of the battle where the fighting was most intense. As a result, the casualties were disproportionately high compared to other Union regiments during the course of the war. Of the 1746 men who served in the 28th between 1862 and 1865, nearly a quarter of them died in combat or as a result of combat wounds or disease or were MIA. The original “Tiffany” green embroidered battle flag is now in the possession of the Massachusetts State House Battle Flag Collection.

This is a reproduction of the 28th Massachusetts Regiment Irish Brigade “Tiffany” Flag. The actual dimensions and materials are not exactly the same as the original flag. The artwork is visible on both sides. The lettering reads right on one side only.

  • One solid piece of printed, hemmed fabric
  • Lightweight, 100-denier polyester that will fly nicely in the slightest breeze.
  • Bright colors
  • 4 rows of stitching on the fly end to prevent premature fraying
  • Reinforced header with brass grommets
  • Flag size: 3′ x 5′

Additional information

Weight 5.5 oz