Confederate Flags 8th Alabama Co. I
In Company I, 8th Alabama, the Emerald Guard, 104 of the 109 men were Irish-born, and the men wore dark green uniforms; their banner was a Confederate First National flag ("Stars and Bars") on one side with a full-length figure of George Washington in the center. The reverse was green, with a harp surrounded by a wreath of shamrocks, and the slogans, "ERIN GO BRAGH!" (Ireland Forever!) and "FAUGH A BALLAGH!" (Clear The Way!).
This was the first Alabama command that enlisted "for the war." It was organized by the appointment of its field officers by the war department. The regiment lay at Yorktown, Virginia, the first eleven months of its service, and a detachment of it was engaged in a skirmish near Winn's Mill. Placed in Gen. Pryor's brigade, the regiment fell back with the army till the enemy overtook it at Williamsburg. It won its first laurels on that fiercely-contested field, losing about 100 men. At Seven Pines it was again under the most deadly fire, and its loss was 32 killed, 80 wounded, and 32 missing.
Now in the brigade of Gen. Wilcox, --with the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Fourteenth Alabama regiments-- the Eighth was under fire at Mechanicsville, and took part in the desperate assault of Longstreet's division on the enemy's position at Gaines' Mill, and emerged victoriously from the bloody combat with the loss of half of the 350 men it had engaged. Three days later, the regiment was in the line of assault at Frazier's Farm, where it met Meagher's Irish brigade, and of 180 effective men, only 90 were at regimental muster the next morning. Its ranks soon began to fill up, and the Eighth marched with the army towards the Potomac.
At the second battle of Manassas it was under a destructive fire, and lost about 60 men, but was held in reserve. The regiment took part in the capture of Harper's Ferry, then crossed the river and fought obstinately at Sharpsburg, where it lost 67 killed and wounded. It wintered at Rappahannock, and lost slightly at Fredericksburg. At Salem Church, Wilcox's brigade of Alabamians, of which it was part, bore the brunt of the federal assault, and drove them back in confusion, capturing 1500 prisoners; the Eighth losing 58 men killed and wounded.
It was in the exultant army that Lee led into Maryland the second time, and its colors were flouted in the face of death at Gettysburg; where of 420 engaged, 260 were left on the bloody field. With the army it re-crossed the Potomac, and wintered in the vicinity of Orange C.H. The regiment was again hotly engaged at the Wilderness, losing heavily, and at Spotsylvania suffered considerably. It was under fire nearly every day as the federal army pressed up to Richmond, and its loss was severe at the second Cold Harbor.
At Petersburg the Eighth again suffered largely. It fought the cavalry raid on the Weldon Railroad, and participated in the capture of the "Crater." At Deep Bottom the regiment participated with some loss, and lost heavily in the attempt to dislodge the enemy from their position on the Weldon Railroad. The regiment assisted at the repulse of the foe on the plank road below Petersburg, and fought cheerfully on the retreat up the James. At Appomattox the remnant indignantly denied the first rumors of the contemplated surrender, many wept like children at the announcement, and the survivors tore their battle-rent banner into shreds to retain as a memento. Of 1377 men on its roll, the Eighth had 300 killed or mortally wounded, over 170 died of disease, and 236 were discharged or transferred.