Color Sergeant Michael Brady: The Luckiest Irishman in America's Civil War

If you have seen seen the movie "Gettysburg," you might notice that during the climatic Pickett's Charge, behind the Union line at the Bloody Angle are two flags, the Regimental stars and stripes, and the state flag--green with a gold trim. This green flag was the only Pennsylvania flag not colored Blue with a gold Maid of Erin motif on its surface. Recently I had some inquiries from the family of 2nd Sergeant David Kiniary, who carried the green flag. After some research into his background, I found that the Color Sergeant carrying the U.S. flag was Color Sergeant Michael Brady. Brady was born in Cavan city, but emigrated to Philadelphia where he joined one of the prominent Irish militia companies, the Hibernia Greens before the war.

Picture right, from the 1993 film "Gettysburg," courtesy of Turner Pictures

When the war broke out, Brady enlisted in the 24th Pennsylvania and served for 90 days without seeing any action.

Returning to Philadelphia, Brady enlisted in C Company, 69th Pennsylvania Volunteers. David Kiniary, a prewar member of the Emmett Guards militia company and native of county Cork, also enlisted in C Company, 69th Pennsylvania where he became close friends with Brady.

The 69th Pennsylvania saw heavy action during the Peninsular campaign , Antietam, Fredericksburg and Second Bull Run. While the regiment fought, Brady and Kiniary kept getting promoted. March 18th, 1863, Michael Brady was promoted to Color Sergeant. David Kiniary was promoted to second sergeant, and William Cooney to first sergeant.

The upshot of these promotion meant that on July 3, 1863, Color Sergeant Michael Brady would be the focal point of every Virginian charging the copse of trees looking to shoot down the Stars and Stripes. During the charge, First Sergeant Coogan was killed, but Brady and Kiniary didn't get a scratch.

Kiniary was wounded in 1864 during the Wilderness campaign and spent the rest of the war in Philadelphia hospitals. Both Kiniary and Brady had reenlisted as veteran volunteers for three more years in early 1864.

Brady continued to serve through out the Petersburg campaign until the end of the war. The most amazing part of Brady's service record is that he never lost a day of service----never wounded , sick or through desertion. ( I read his service record and pension file in the national archives.) When the 69th returned to Philadelphia in July 1865, less than 80 men from the original 1,000 survived. Every one else was KIA, WIA, deserted or a POW. But of those 80 men, the luckiest Irishman in Civil War, Michael Brady, exited the train.*

*Color Sergeant Brady is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

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Tags: American Civil War, Antietam, Bull Run, Cavan, Delaware County, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States


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Comment by That's Just How It Was on June 16, 2016 at 10:31am

Nice article  Michael 

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