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Irish to have role in 'battle' events
Irish dignitaries, descendant units of three Civil War regiments will star in Battle of Fredericksburg's 150th this weekend

 Re-enactors will use two pontoon boats and a U.S. Army floating bridge to cross the Rappahannock River.
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Date published: 12/7/2012

BY CLINT SCHEMMER

This weekend will bring sights, sounds and smells the likes of which no one's experienced in Fredericksburg for 15 decades.

It will be loud, for one thing, with periodic rifle fire and cannon blasts, including a 21-gun salute from atop Marye's Heights on Sunday. If you have a dogs or cats, keep them close.

It'll be only a small taste of what people here felt during the Battle of Fredericksburg, but that should be enough.

The Irish will be here in force, naturally, for the once-in-a-lifetime Civil War commemoration.

On Saturday afternoon, re-enactors will depict the Irish Brigade's attack on the Stone Wall, with Trench Hill standing in for Marye's Heights. On Sunday afternoon, representatives of the Republic of Ireland will take part in the culminating ceremony for the battle's 150th anniversary program.

U.S. military personnel will salute their Civil War predecessors with soldiers from the descendant units of the Stonewall and Irish brigades and the 1st Virginia Regiment participating.

THE IRISH

At noon Sunday, members of the Irish Defence Forces will help re-dedicate the Irish Brigade monument at City Dock. Historian Frank O'Reilly, a Sons of Union Veterans officer, and a representative of the Irish Embassy will speak. Fredericksburg Councilman Matt Kelly will describe what motivated Irish immigrants to fight in the Civil War.

The Irish participation this weekend "is a recognition that, as if we needed one, this battle reverberated across the land--and even across the Atlantic," John Hennessy, chief historian of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, said Thursday.

"One of the reasons the Irish at Fredericksburg are so compelling is that most of us are the children or descendants of immigrants. The Irish Brigade's involvement in the Civil War and their sacrifice at places like Fredericksburg is really one of the most remarkable acts of devotion ever to an adopted nation."

At 1 p.m., the Defence Forces troops will walk in the public procession from the Rappahannock River to Marye's Heights, leaving Riverfront Park, pausing at Hurkamp Park and Maury Field before closing the gap to Sunken Road.


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CULMINATION

3 p.m. Sunday at Sunken Road: Music, words and respect for sacrifices at Fredericksburg

PROCESSION

1 p.m. Sunday at Riverfront Park: Trace soldiers' footsteps

PONTOONS, BATTLES

10 & 11 a.m., 3 p.m. Saturday: 'Fire on the Rappahannock'

TOURS AND TALKS

Park Service rangers inform, guide visitors at Sunken Road, Slaughter Pen, Prospect Hill, in churches, on city streets

ARMIES' CAMPS

Hundreds of re-enactors at Ferry Farm and Slaughter Pen Farm

CANDLELIGHT TOUR

HFFI.org spotlights Braehead, Brompton, Civil War sites

NEXT WEEK

'Real-time' NPS tours Dec. 11-13 and Dec. 15; historians' battlefield preservation banquet Dec. 13

Program: tinyurl.com/frd150

Fire on the Rappahannock: fredericksburg150.org

Tourism: visitfred.com

National Park on Facebook: bit.ly/fbfred

News coverage: bit.ly/fred150