The Emerald Guard was the first Alabama Unit to enlist "for the war". The 8th was organized by the appointment of its field officers by the war department. The Regiment was posted at Yorktown, Virginia during the first eleven months of its service, and a detachment of the 8th was engaged in a skirmish near Winn's Mill. Placed in General Pryor's brigade, the regiment fell back with the army until the enemy overtook it at Williamsburg. The Regiment won its first laurels on that contested field, losing approximately 100 men. At Seven Pines it was again under fire, and received heavy losses - 32 killed, 80 wounded, and 32 missing.
Now in the brigade of General Wilcox, -- with the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Fourteenth Alabama regiments, the Eighth took part in a desperate assault with General Longstreet's division on the enemy's position at Gaines' Mill, and emerged victoriously from the fierce battle 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 the Emerald Guard 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, the 8th Alabama lost 60 men, but was held in reserve. The regiment took part in the capture of Harper's Ferry, then crossed the river and fought fearlessly at Sharpsburg, where the 8th lost 67 men. The Emerald Guard's wintered at Rappahannock. At Salem Church, Wilcox's brigade of Alabamans, of which the 8th was a part, bore the brunt of the federal assault, and drove them back in confusion, capturing 1500 prisoners; the Eighth lost 58 men.
General Lee led the Eighth Alabama and the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland, and the 8th's colors were flouted in the face of death at Gettysburg; where 260 of 420 engaged died. The Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac again, and wintered in the vicinity of Orange C.H. The regiment was engaged at Wilderness and at Spottsylvania as well. The 8th also fought at Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, and participated in the capture of the "Crater". The remnant of the 8th indignantly denied the first rumors of surrender at Appomattox, and the survivors tore their flag into tiny pieces to retain as a sort of "memento". Of the 1, 377 men on the 8th Alabama Co. "I"'s roll, 300 were killed or mortally wounded, 170+ died of disease, and 236 were discharged or transferred.[b]
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