The First Iron Brigade
The first or "Eastern" Iron Brigade consisted of the 22nd, 24th, and 30th New York Volunteer Infantry regiments, the 14th New York State Militia Infantry "14th Brooklyn" and the 2nd United States Sharpshooters!
The brigade was initially commanded by Colonel Timothy Sullivan of the 24th New York Infantry. Later it was commanded by Colonel Walter Phelps, Jr. of the 22nd New York Infantry regiment and finally by Brigadier General John P. Hatch. It remained pretty much in this order of battle from the Summer of 1861 until shortly after Chancellorsville (Spring of 1863) when the 22nd, 24th and 30th NY Volunteers were mustered out of service due to the expiration of their term of service ( two years).
At the time of this mustering out of the two years units, the remaining unit, the 14th Brooklyn was transferred to Cutler's Brigade (2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Corps). The 2nd regiment, Berdan's Sharpshooters were shipped off to the 1st Division, 3rd Corps a few months previous.
The title came to pass when the brigade (22nd, 24th, 30th, 14th and 2nd USSS) along with two regiments of Cavalry (one of them was the "Harris Light" under Lieutenant-Colonel Kilpatrick, late of the 5th New York Infantry, "Duryee's Zouaves") all under the command of Brigadier General Christopher.C. Auger, conducted a series of combat operations in and around Fredericksburg, Va. from April 16th to July 23rd, 1862. The expedition was very successful as a result of rapid marches and successful combat actions by the forces involved.
At the end of the expedition General Patrick (probably Brigadier General Marsena R. Patrick, commanding the 3rd Brigade (all New York) in the same division as the "Eastern Iron Brigade" (and later Provost Marshall of the Army)) remarked General Auger that,
"Your men must be made of iron to make such marches."
As a result of that remark, the title "Iron Brigade" was adopted by those infantry regiments involved...(the Cavalry units were just attached for the duration of the expedition).
However, because the title "Iron Brigade" never appears to have been disputed by the Easterners when the Western brigade of the 1st Division, 1st Corps adopted it, the 1st Division, 1st Corps wound up with two brigades bearing the same nickname for a brief time. However, with the Eastern Iron Brigade units being made up primarily of two-years men, once they mustered out and the remaining outfits transferred (as previously indicated), the title remained with the Western men.
Apparently much more was made of the matter in post-war years by the veterans organizations than was ever done during the actual war years. On an interesting side note the veterans medal for the Eastern Iron Brigade looks very close to the one for the Western Iron Brigade!
Below Are Images of an Original "First Iron Brigade" Medal Click on the first image and scroll through the gallery
This Medal is currently in the Private Collection of Richard Maniscalco.
Click here to read a paper written on the First Iron Brigade by our own Frank J. Ruiz Jr.