The Irish Brigade had a powerful patron in Maria Lydig Daly. Daughter of a family of undiluted blue-bloods, she scandalized her clan by marrying an Irish Catholic Judge, Charles P. Daly. (See “Circumstances Make the Man” below.) She undertook to supply the 69th’s Irish banners, three of which she ordered from Tiffany’s. They were to be carried and flown next to three silken banners bearing the Stars and Stripes. The 69th carried Maria’s flags into the First Battle of Bull run which proved a terrible rout for the Union. In the process of retreat a standard bearer dropped one Flag of Erin.
My flag, which I gave to the 69th, was lost. The ensign dropped it in his retreat, and, as he escaped unhurt, has not dared to show his face. The Regiment declared that he shall be shot if he does.… If anyone asks me about it, I shall say that one of ensigns was killed and nothing more…. Besides. It was the first battle, and I would forgive the poor fellow and give him another chance.
Maria Lydig Daly
July 28, 1861
(New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009. p. 239.)