One of the most fascinating Irish regiments in the war was the Confederate 10th Tennessee, which I first learned about while reading a biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Now the regiment is fully profiled in Ed Gleeson's regimental history, The Rebel Sons of Erin. Ed and his work have been most helpful to me in researching this painting, so I have given it the name of Ed's book as a tribute to him.
Other historians have also given me valuable advice. Tom Cartwright, the historian at the Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee, uncovered important information and a rare photograph of the 10th's Private Patrick Griffin. Sheila Morris Green, an assistant curator at the Tennessee State Museum, consulted with me about the regiment's original flag and the personal banner of Lt.Col. Randal W. McGavock - both of which are held in the museums collection. McGavock's banner is in the foreground of the painting, and the regimental flag - which was huge - dominates the center of the picture. Robert Wallace of Ft. Donelson National Military Park was also helpful in confirming details.
The entire regiment at this time was furnished with new uniforms by Lt. Col. McGavock, who was the former mayor of Nashville. The uniforms were carefully described by Private Jimmy Doyle in his diary, which has been preserved. Although the 10th Tennessee was considered one of the best equipped regiments in the war's Western Theater, its troops were armed at this time with flintlock muskets from the War of 1812.
The moment depicted in Rebel Sons of Erin is the engagement at Erin Hollow, which occurred on February 13, 1862, during the Ft. Donelson Campaign. It was the only time the entire regiment engaged in battle as a complete unit. I hope this painting not only captures one of the war's dramatic moments, but also increases the awareness of Irish participation - North and South - in the Civil War.
Image size: 28 x 17
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