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Captain Joseph Kelly -"Missouri's Confederate Irish Brigade"

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by CSA Today, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. CSA Today

    CSA Today Colonel

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  3. Missouri Rebel

    Missouri Rebel Private

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    nice one...me likey !! you sure dig up some goodies.
     
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  4. Missouri Rebel

    Missouri Rebel Private

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  5. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    [​IMG]

    Irish-born Joseph Kelly, a veteran of the British Army and St. Louis grocer, became captain of the Washington Blues militia company in 1857. In May 1861, Kelly was ordered to take his company to Jefferson City as an escort for arms and gunpowder, thereby avoiding the so-called “Camp Jackson Massacre.” Kelly and his men soon became Company A, 1st Infantry Regiment, Sixth Division, Missouri State Guard, and fought at Boonville, Carthage, Wilson’s Creek, Lexington and Pea Ridge. Kelly himself was promoted to colonel and commander of the 1st Infantry Regiment in June 1861. Wounded in the right hand at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Kelly continued to command the regiment, but briefly assumed command of the Sixth Division of the Missouri State Guard in April 1862 before resigning. In late 1862, he entered Confederate service and was appointed to the staff of Brigadier General Mosby M. Parsons, serving with Parsons for the remainder of the war and eventually rising to the rank of colonel.

    Kelly was paroled at Shreveport, Louisiana in June 1865. He returned to St. Louis, died there on May 30, 1870, and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

    Image Courtesy Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

    http://ozarkscivilwar.org/photographs/kelly-joseph/
     
  6. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    On youtube you can put get "Kellys Irish Brigade which is a great song. per Wickpedia there were about 150 members of Kellys Irish brigade most died. There is a reenactment group of that name and there part of the SCV and some other reenactment group that works with Union reenacter's . They should have more info.
    Leftyhunter
     
  7. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Thanks for posting about the song. I have added it to my collection of Civil War tunes.
     
  8. OldBrainsHalleck

    OldBrainsHalleck Private

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    Is this the Kelly mentioned in the song of the Irish Brigade?
     
  9. Lusty Murfax

    Lusty Murfax Private

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    I remember singing a lot of those songs as a boy in music class. Our music teacher was from Macon County in Little Dixie. We must have sung Dixie and OH Susanna every day. Talk about programming the youth.
     
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  10. Youngblood

    Youngblood Sergeant

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  11. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Thanks for posting the song. Enjoyed it so much.
     
  12. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    A lot of people are confused over the name "Kelly's Irish Brigade" but, in fact, it wasn't actually a brigade but Kelly's 1st Rifle Regiment in Parsons' Division, Missouri State Guard.

    They originated from the Washington Blues, a prewar, all-Irish militia unit organized in St. Louis by Joseph Kelly. They were known as one of the most prestigious militia organizations in the city, which had a large Irish population. The Washington Blues made up only part of Kelly's 1st Rifle Regiment in the MSG, which consisted of a few other Irish companies out of St. Louis as well. After serving in the Missouri State Guard they were transferred to Confederate service in early 1862, later becoming Company F of the 5th Missouri Infantry in Cockrell's 1st Missouri Brigade. Joe Kelly was later promoted and left the company, so command passed to Capt. Patrick Canniff who led the company throughout many battles until he was killed in the charge at Franklin in '64.

    I've posted more on them here: http://civilwartalk.com/threads/cockrells-1st-missouri-brigade.130789/#post-1464327
     
  13. novushomus

    novushomus Corporal

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    Kelly became Parsons's drillmaster and contributed to the reputation of Parsons's Missouri brigade as being one of the better drilled Confederate infantry units in the Trans-Mississippi (particularly Price's division) as the brigade's inspector general.

    His efficiency in that post can be revealed by the following report of Confederates in the TMD.

    After the fall of Little Rock, Kirby Smith's inspector general would report:
    "Major-General Price's division, as a body, are not such soldiers as they should be, when the advantages they have had are considered. Taken in comparison with the other troops of the district, they are the best I have inspected, but are not what they might be. Their drill is good; Parsons' and Fagan's brigades very good. In point of discipline I do not consider that they have nearly reached that state which is so necessary to render them efficient under all and any circumstances. One of the strongest evidences of this is the great number of desertions which have occurred and are daily taking place, particularly in the case of Fagan's and McRae's brigades. (See field returns and muster-rolls of these commands.) This state of affairs could not exist if field and company officers did their duty in using their energies and being vigilant. With few exceptions, there is too little pride and effort at soldierly bearing among the officers, and too much familiarity between them and their men. It is true they had but recently returned from a fatiguing and harassing march, but before the expedition to Helena they had been stationary for some time, and in their permanent camp had every opportunity of perfecting themselves in all the duties of soldiers. The general officers of the command are zealous and competent, but are in a measure paralyzed in their endeavors by a lack of hearty co-operation from their subordinate officers. The field officers, and the company officers to even a greater extent, allow themselves to become too easily discouraged and disheartened at reverses. The exhibition of this feeling to the men--the result of intimacy between officers and men--makes the men dissatisfied; they lose interest, disaffection follows, and they desert. A lethargy seems to have fallen on the troops of the command which has been and will be productive of much evil. This can only be removed by keeping them constantly employed with drills, the enforcement of rigid discipline, and a requirement of minute attention to all military exercises and duties. Petty crimes pass unnoticed, while greater ones go unpunished, or the punishment inflicted is so slight as to do no good as an example, and possibly only makes the individual resentful. I think that they are past appreciating leniency, and moral suasion is lost upon them. As far as I know, no officer has as yet been held accountable for the desertions of his men--whether company officer, officer of the day, or guard--and yet most of the desertions occur at night, when, by the order in force, no man is allowed to pass the lines without the countersign. Some excuse may be made for the men, but none for the officers.

    I know that the department is not very fruitful of supplies, but I think that with proper energy the condition of these troops could be much ameliorated. They are poorly clad, very poorly, and are almost destitute of shoes. In comparison to these men, a portion of the troops of the Indian Territory (Bankhead's brigade) are finely provided for with clothing and shoes. There is an inequality in the distribution of clothing, which may be unavoidable, but why it is so I cannot tell. Their arms are of a good character, and generally well kept. Fagan's brigade do not pay as much attention to their arms and accouterments as other portions of the command. The staff departments of the division are, as far as can be ascertained by a general inspection, in tolerably good order. The adjutants-general are the most efficient. The quartermasters and commissaries of subsistence do not, I think, fully appreciate the responsibility resting on them. This is shown in a few instances by their papers. Major [Thomas] Monroe, quartermaster of Parsons' brigade, is $811.49 short. Maj. C. B. Moore, quartermaster of McRae's brigade, has an excess of $134.98. Major [John B.] Ruthven, commissary of Parsons' brigade, has an excess of $175.75. My inspection was made on the 15th of August, and up to that time Major Monroe had not made up his returns for the quarter ending June 30, 1863.

    Brig. Gen. D. M. Frost commanded the "defenses of the Lower Arkansas." I found his brigade of infantry and two batteries of light artillery at Pine Bluff in only tolerable condition. Their drill was not equal to that of either Parsons', Fagan's, or McRae's brigade. Their arms were not well kept, and the police of their camp was fair. I found a very large number of the command sick, and the surgeons complained of being much in need of medicines. The post was well regulated. The hospital, in charge of Surg. R. Brunson, was perfectly clean; the sick seemed to receive every attention; returns were regularly forwarded, and duplicates kept. Capt. W. W. Johnson, post quartermaster, I found to be an energetic and very efficient officer. His returns were all up to date; books, papers, &c., in excellent order. Every care was taken of the post transportation, and it was in fine condition. The cavalry was at South Bend. I found them well mounted, poorly armed and clothed; their drill and discipline quite poor. Many men were absent without leave, and many more on incompetent authority. With an aggregate present and absent of 668, only 238 were present for duty. This command is almost entirely destitute of accouterments. Captain Pratt's battery, serving with Carter's cavalry, is in very fine order, and a model command. Their discipline is very good. The men are well drilled, and care is taken of the horses and everything about the battery. General Frost's command-- cavalry, artillery, and infantry--are very poorly clad, and are destitute of shoes. The regimental quartermasters and commissaries of the infantry brigade are not sufficiently well acquainted with their duties, and do not show a great degree of attention to business. The quartermasters and commissaries of the cavalry were absent. I found that the conscript law was not enforced with enough energy and rigidity, and that the officers in charge of that duty were, many of them, incompetent. Of this subject I made a special report at the time of my inspection."
     
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  14. novushomus

    novushomus Corporal

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    He and Parsons were very close.

    There was an incident in the Little Rock Campaign where a temporary regiment had been formed from Marmaduke's cavalry division under Colonel Robert Lawther to place troopers from the division who had lost their horses. Parsons, without authorization, sent recruiters to Lawther's temporary regiment to get men for the brigade and Tilden's Missouri battery (attached to Parsons's brigade). Lawther refused, as the men in his command were just awaiting new mounts to rejoin Marmaduke's command, and sent the recruiters away. Parsons dispatched Kelly to enforce his wish. When Lawther refused again, Kelly arrested Lawther and the senior officers in the temporary regiment. Kelly then dispatched Pindall's Missouri Sharpshooter Battalion and a company of the 10th Missouri to "acquire" the necessary detail for Tilden's battery at bayonet point. Although Lawther was released by Price, it is not known if the men detailed to Parsons' brigade were returned.
     
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  15. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    Interesting, @novushomus. Strange that they would want to recruit cavalrymen (and Arkansans, I presume) for infantry or artillery service, and without authorization at that. I wouldn't have thought Parson's Brigade was ever so desperately in need recruits.

    Also, I was having some trouble finding more in depth information on Kelly's service. Do you know when exactly he resigned from the State Guard and transferred to Confederate service? Also, what was his rank upon entering Confederate service?
     
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  16. novushomus

    novushomus Corporal

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    Lawther's men were from Marmaduke's division, an all Missouri outfit after Holmes's reorganization of the cavalry. Just a few days after this instance, Marmaduke's division reported 1,500 effectives (mounted and armed men) and his division's monthly return shows an aggregate present of 1,751 (with 1,400 present for duty, minus 600 men raiding with Shelby). So there might have been 200 or so who needed horses once you subtract mounts needed for the artillery and wagons.

    Parsons's brigade had been badly reduced from the fighting at Helena, going from a strength of 1,868 present for duty
    (and thus the largest rebel infantry brigade in Arkansas), with a reported loss of 731 casualties. They would regain some of that strength, as a morning report two days after Helena gave Parsons's 1,359 "effectives", or about 1,550 present for duty (which is remarkable considering the severe losses reported). At the time of the Little Rock campaign Parsons's would have around 1,400 men, which almost as big as Marmaduke's whole division. It is very strange that he would seek recruits like this, given his brigade was relatively large and had bounced back in strength, unlike Fagan's and McRae's brigades, which both numbered less than 1,000 effectives each from Helena until Little Rock fell. If Parsons's aggressive recruiting methods were a frequent occurrence, then it isn't so surprising that he was able to recover part of his strength quickly from Helena.

    Kelly returned to Arkansas with Parsons and apparently kept his rank of Captain when he entered Confederate service as a member of Parsons's personal staff (I'm looking up an exact date). He seems to have accompanied Shelby on his late October raid in Missouri and Arkansas and was praised by Shelby in the latter's official report. He then rejoined Parsons's staff as an assistant adjutant general.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
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  17. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    I love Irish songs with the caveat they are often full of blarney. Their are similar Irish songs with the same theme during the "troubles".
    Leftyhunter
     
  18. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    Kelly's activities throughout 1862 still aren't quite clear to me. His MSG regiment transferred to Confederate service in early 1862, but apparently Kelly did not enter Confederate service until later.
     
  19. novushomus

    novushomus Corporal

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  20. Vicksburger

    Vicksburger Sergeant

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    Awesome song!
     
  21. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    This reminds me of the similar situation in the very same area with the Unionist Mulligan's Irish Brigade which was nothing but the 23rd Illinois Regiment. In at least Mulligan's case he probably hoped to recruit enough men to form a brigade, but that never happened. Mulligan surrendered his regimental-sized "brigade" to Price at Lexington in 1861 and was mortally wounded leading it and other units in a small division at Second Kernstown, July 24, 1864.
     
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