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Template:Otherpeople2 David Ireland (1832 – September 10, 1864) was a colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Commanding the 137th New York Infantry Regiment, he played a key defensive role on Culp's Hill in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Early life[]

Ireland was born in Forfar, Scotland, and was a tailor in New York City before the war.

Civil War[]

He served as a captain in the 79th New York Infantry, the Cameron Highlanders, in 1861, commanding an ambush of Confederate troops near Falls Church, Virginia on September 10, 1862.[1] He also briefly commanded the regiment in the absence of Col. Isaac I. Stevens in a small action the following day.[2] (Some sources also list Col. Ireland as having been a captain in the 15th U.S. Infantry.)[3]

Later in 1862 Ireland left the 79th New York. He recruited men for the new 137th New York Infantry at Binghamton, New York, and was appointed colonel on August 31, 1862. The regiment left for Washington, D.C., on September 27.[4] It arrived in time to be assigned, two days later, to XII Corps, then led by Brig. Gen. Alpheus Williams.[5] The corps was part of the Reserve at the time of the Battle of Fredericksburg and remained so to the end of 1862.[6]

Led by Col. Ireland, the regiment made several forays into northern Virginia in late 1862. Its first combat service was in the 3rd Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. George S. Greene, in 2nd Division, XII Corps, at the Battle of Chancellorsville. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Ireland's regiment was at the far right of the Union line, defending the trenches on Culp's Hill on July 2, 1863. They withstood numerous attacks by the superior Confederate forces of Maj. Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson, holding a vital position. Units from other Union corps aided Ireland's regiment, but it retained its dangerous post until after the last Confederate assault on July 2, after 10 p.m.[7] Regimental losses were reported as 40 killed, 87 wounded, and 10 missing, including 4 officers dead.

In the fall of 1863, the XII Corps was sent to relieve the besieged Union army at Chattanooga, Tennessee. When Greene was wounded at the Battle of Wauhatchie, Ireland succeeded to command of his brigade.[8] Ireland's brigade served under Brig. Gen. John W. Geary in Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's attack during the Battle of Lookout Mountain of the Chattanooga Campaign. During the pursuit of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Ireland's brigade suffered severely when sent to attack Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne's position during the Battle of Ringgold Gap.

When the XI Corps and XII Corps were combined into the XX Corps, Col. Ireland retained brigade command. He served in the 2nd Division under Brig. Gen. Geary, commanding the third brigade. On May 15, 1864, Ireland was wounded by a shell fragment at the Battle of Resaca.[9] Col. George A. Cobham, Jr., succeeded temporarily to command of the brigade.

Col. Ireland returned to his brigade on June 6, 1864, and served until his health gave out on September 9.[10] Thus he was back in charge at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, in which Col. Cobham was killed. Ireland continued in command of the brigade until he fell ill on September 8, 1864. He died of dysentery in Atlanta, Georgia, his passing noted with regret by Maj. Gen. Geary in his report on the Atlanta Campaign.[11]

Ireland is buried in Binghamton at Spring Forest Cemetery.[12] The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War named Camp 137 in Binghamton the Col. David Ireland Camp.[13] On August 26, 1863, Ireland had married Sara Phelps in Binghamton. They had no children.

See also[]

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  • Dyer, Frederick H., A Compendium of the War of Rebellion: Compiled and Arranged From Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of the Adjutant Generals of the Several States, The Army Registers and Other Reliable Documents and Sources, Des Moines, Iowa: Dyer Publishing, 1908 (reprinted by Morningside Books, 1978), ISBN 978-0890290460.
  • Jorgensen, Jay, "Holding the Right: The 137th New York Regiment at Gettysburg," Gettysburg Magazine, issue 15.
  • Pfanz, Harry W., Gettysburg: Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8078-2118-7.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880–1901.
  • 137th Regiment Infantry Historical Sketch by Surgeon John M. Farrington (Albany: Published by the State of New York, 1902). [copy at the American Antiquarian Society]


  1. 137th New York website
  2. O.R., Series I, Vol. V, pp. 165-166, 155.
  3. New York State Military Museum
  4. New York State Military Museum
  5. O.R., Series I, Vol. XIX, Part 2, p. 369.
  6. O.R., Series I, Vol. XXI, p. 938.
  7. Battle of Gettysburg: General George Sears Greene at Culp's Hill,
  8. O.R., Series I, Vol. XXXI, Part 1, p. 132.
  9. O.R., Series I, Vol. XXXVIII, Part 2, p. 120.
  10. Dyer, vol. 1, p. 459.
  11. O.R., Series I, Vol. XXXVIII, Part 2, pp. 146-47.
  12. Find-a-Grave
  13. Sons of Union Veterans Camp 137 website