Episode 1: Clear The Way

In Episode one Irish-American actor and presenter Brian Mallon introduces us to Irish Revolutionary Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher a complicated, rich and enigmatic character and founder of and one of the greatest military units of the American Civil War: The Irish Brigade.

This episode begins and ends in Antietam, Maryland where the legend of the Irish Brigade began.  The story starts with a mystery. In March of 1988 three civil war buffs made a discovery on the battlefield. They thought they had found a lost knapsack but it turned out to be objects associated with the partially disinterred remains of four members of the Irish Brigade who were killed in action and buried here on the battlefield on September 17th 1862. Brian Mallon’s quest to discover the identity of the Unknown Soldier opens up the first chapter of the history of the Irish Brigade. 

The man who convinced the Irish to support the war was the firebrand revolutionary and great orator Thomas Francis Meagher. In this first film we follow Meagher as he travels across the northern states urging the Irish to join the Union cause. He decides to create a grand Irish Brigade. … The idea of the Brigade was to make sure that whatever sacrifices the Irish made for this Union cause would be recognized. Urged on by Meagher thousands of Irishmen flocked to the Union banner.

The brigade fights ferociously and bravely at the Battle of Antietam but suffers terrible losses. Today a monument stands on the Battlefield to the bravery of the Irish Brigade and its leader Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher.

But their sacrifice was far from over. The Irish Brigade continued to fight with courage in battle after battle. The Bravery and courage of Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher’s Irish Brigade’s won them respect from friend and foe alike.

Forever more they would carry with pride the title: “The Fighting Irish”.
The first film ends with General Meagher, in the face of overwhelming causalities, beginning to question the nobility of the cause and the price his brigade is paying in the war.

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