69th Regiment History
The "Fighting 69th" have been serving the United States since 1849.
THE ORIGIN OF THE 69TH REGIMENT
Tradition holds that the 69th Regiment of New York is the most highly decorated regiment in the United States. The 69th Regiment traces its lineage to December 21, 1849 after the failed “Young Ireland” revolt in Ireland. The Irish revolutionary/republican activity moved to New York. The leaders of that movement believed they needed to create and train an Irish Brigade for the future liberation of their homeland, and then decided to do so within the New York State Militia system.
They created three regiments in Manhattan: the 1st Irish Regiment, brought into the State Militia as the “Irish” 9th Regiment; the 2nd Irish Regiment, as the 69th; and the 4th Irish Regiment, as the 75th. These three regiments are in the lineage of the 69th Regiment of today and co-existed until consolidated in 1858 as the 69th Regiment. Although the 69th only traces its history and lineage to 1849, one of its companies, “A” Company, traces its lineage to 1775 and the American Revolution.
69th Regiment Seal
The Irish Wolf Hound is "Gentle When Stroked, Fierce When Provoked"
AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN (1861)
The 69th Regiment fought for the Union in the first major battle of the Civil War, The Battle of Bull Run. Just North of the city of Manassas, Virginia, Bull Run was a violent and bloody battle between nearly 40,000 American soldiers that would set the grim tone for the remainder of the war.
SEVEN DAYS BATTLES (1862)
In seven battles over seven days near Richmond, Virginia, the Union Army was pushed back in the attempt to capture the Confederate capital. The conflicts include the Battles of:
Beaver Dam Creek
Garnett’s & Golding’s Farm
Glendale and White Oak Swamp
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG (1861)
Seventy-five men from the 69th Regiment held back Confederate forces in the Battle of Gettysburg. They were initially successful in pushing back the adversaries, but were highly outnumbered and eventually flanked. Five men were killed in the effort, fourteen were wounded, and six went missing. The “Fighting 69th” are remembered for their courage under a highly difficult
and deadly situation.
WORLD WAR I
“Clear the Way” by painter Don Troiani Depicting the Irish Brigade in the Civil War
BATTLE OF CHATEAU-THIERRY (1918)
Giving relief to the U.S. 26th Division, the Fighting 69th led the crossing of the Ourcq River. The regiment endured over 250 members’ deaths and 1,200 wounded over four days.
BATTLE OF ROUGE BOUQUET (1918)
After a grueling 80-mile march through the mud just after Christmas, the regiment saw its first combat in WWI. At Rouge Bouquet near the village of Baccarat, the trenches were bombarded and the 69th unfortunately suffered their first casualties in the war. This event is depicted in the poem “The Wood Called Rouge Bouquet” by Joyce Kilmer in 1918 and the famous painting “Rouge Bouquet” by Emmett Watson.
BATTLE OF SAINT-MIHIEL (1918)
The 69th’s heavy casualties at Chateau-Thierry , reinforcements from around the U.S. arrived to make up 65% of the regiment. Saint-Mihiel was the first large offensive led by the Americans in France . The goal was the capture of the German-fortified city of Metz and was strategized to catch the German troops unprepared. The attack was quite successful for the Americans because the German artillery was not set up during their retreat.
BATTLE OF MEUSE-ARGONNE (1918)
Part of the final Allied offensive, Meuse-Argonne is the deadliest battle in U.S. military history. The objective was to capture the railway hub at Sedan to cut off supplies to German troops occupying France. With 1.2 million American soldiers participating, 26,277 American lives were lost.
MICHAEL CORCORAN - General in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861-1863)
THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER - Captain of the Zouave Company in the 69th New York Militia at the Battle of Bull Run (181-1865)
COLONEL JAMES CAVANAUGH - Commander of the 69th Regiment (1867-1893)
COLONEL EDWARD DUFFY - Commander of the 69th Regiment during the Spanish-American War, served (1867-1899)
WILLIAM DONOVAN - Commanded the 1st Battalion of the “Fighting 69th” in World War I, Later organized and commanded the OSS during World War II (1912-1945)
FATHER FRANCIS PATRICK DUFFY - Chaplain of the 69th Regiment in World War I (1896-1918)
ALFRED JOYCE KILMER - Writer of famous poem “Trees” (1914), Served in the Fighting 69th during World War I in France where he gave his life in the line of service
COLONEL GEOFFREY SLACK - Commander of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry during 9/11, Served in the 69th Regiment (1991-2005)
The 69th Regiment has a history of noteworthy members.
LOGAN-DUFFY TROPHY RIFLE MATCH
This rifle match began in 1936 when the commanders of the 101st Infantry, Massachusetts Army National Guard and the 69th Infantry New York Army National Guard organized a friendly marksmanship match. The regiments, each with an Irish history and a friendship dating to the Civil War, annually compete for the ornamental trophy, a silver five-gallon bowl, which is retained each year by the organization winning the rifle match.
Logan-Duffy Rifle Match
An Annual Friendly Competition of Marksmanship
“Garryowen!” The “Fighting 69th” Regimental Cocktail, made of one-part Irish whiskey and two/three parts champagne, is prepared for toasting at all regimental affairs. At Fredericksburg, General Thomas Francis Meagher, who liked to drink whiskey mixed with Vichy water, sent a soldier to get the effervescent mineral water. Unable to find the water, the soldier returned with champagne. General Meagher mixed the two and the Regimental Cocktail was born.
Fighting 69th Whiskey
"The Fighting 69th" official regiment cocktail
"Gentle When Stroked, Fierce When Provoked"; on the 69th Regiment's coat of arms, you will find two Irish Wolfhounds for which this motto refers to. The Irish Wolfhound is traditionally the companion to the Kings of Ireland and are historically known as battle dogs whose job was to watch their master's back. Each year two canines are granted the honor of leading the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Irish Wolfhound named Letrim Boy at Waterford Barracks
1. Text from sixtyninth.net
2. Coat of Arms image from sixtyninth.net
4. More detailed list at https://sixtyninth.net/pages/people
5. Image of Sixty-Ninth flyer from http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2013/06/hunt-hunts-monumental-69th-regiment.html
6. Image of marksman from https://www.army.mil/article/46105
7. Text from https://sixtyninth.net/pages/traditions
8. Text from https://sixtyninth.net/pages/traditions
9. Image of Irish whiskey from https://store.passionspirits.com/fighting69th-irish-whiskey-750ml.html
10. Image of young member of Irish Guard and Irish Wolfhound from https://commons.wikimedia.org