“The Return of the 69th“
There are few paintings that capture the Irish of the Civil War era better than Louis Lang’s “The Return of the 69th (Irish) Regiment.”
The painting, 11 feet wide by 7 feet tall, is prominently displayed at the New York Historical Society Building and shows crowds massed along New York Harbor to welcome home the regiment returned from the First Battle of Bull Run. Though the battle was lost on the Union side, the regiment served with valor, despite the capture of Col. Michael Corcoran by the Confederates.
In the painting by German-American Louis Lang (1812 – 1893) we see newsboys hawking portraits of Corcoran. General Thomas Meagher, who lobbied for the 69th to become the core regiment of his Irish Brigade, is seen on horseback. He later went on to be one of the Civil War’s most renowned generals.
The “Return of the 69th” was the subject of a recent NYCARTS program that provided an insightful examination of the painting and the story behind it. Watch the video above.
Discovered in the society’s archive in 2011, the painting was reframed and carefully restored and is now a permanent fixture at the New York Historical Society building.
The New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024. Tel:(212) 873-3400. to book your tickets to visit the building go to NYTickets.org
For more on General Thomas Meagher, read this excerpt from Timothy Egan’s book: Thomas Meagher: The Immortal Irishman