When we hear of the American Civil War, some of us think of Scarlett O'Hara in her hoops and skirts ruling the roost at Tara. What most Irish people don't realise is that we contributed more than just the name of her plantation in the Deep South of America. Thousands of Irish people left for the New World in the nineteenth century and although their families here may have mourned them as if they were dead, some went on to involve themselves in the conflicts of their new home. Irishmen fought in every important action in the American Civil War, helping to shape the America that we know today. Irish participation is woven into and highlighted in this single account of the Irish during this war, emphasising the role of Irish individuals and units. Irish involvement began when an ethnic Irish unit was called into action during John Brown's abortive attempt to start an anti-slavery uprising in 1859. When the war started the Irish Volunteers was the first unit in South Carolina to volunteer for service. The most famous Irish unit in the Federal army, the Irish Brigade, which included the famous 'Fighting 69th', was formed in 1861.
The heroics of this brigade at Antietam, and elsewhere, became an important part of Irish American history. Irishmen fought at Gettysburg and Fredericksburg, sometimes on soil that may have raised corn for famine relief in Ireland. Many Irish made the supreme sacrifice in Union blue and Confederate grey, including Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher from Waterford, Patrick Cleburne from Cork and Colonel Patrick Kelly from Galway: they commanded brigades and units, and earned honours for their bravery. Modern Ireland may be dominated by American culture but modern America owes a lot to those who fought on both sides of the war that pitted brother against brother and neighbour against neighbour.
Table of Contents
Photo Credits vi Foreword vii Acknowledgements x Chapter 1 Origins of the Conflict and the Irish Involvement 1 Chapter 2 The Irish Influx 9 Chapter 3 The Loss of Innocence 14 Chapter 4 The War in the West 29 Chapter 5 The Peninsula Campaign 44 Chapter 6 Back to Bull Run 68 Chapter 7 Antietam 85 Chapter 8 Perryville and Stones River 104 Chapter 9 Fredericksburg 121 Chapter 10 Chancellorsville 141 Chapter 11 Gettysburg 156 Chapter 12 Vicksburg and Sabine Pass 185 Chapter 13 Chickamauga and Chattanooga 203 Chapter 14 The Home Front 223 Chapter 15 The Overland Campaign 237 Chapter 16 Petersburg and Appomattox 261 Chapter 17 The End of the Matter 274 Chapter 18 The Aftermath 287 Appendix I: Organisational Structures 291 Appendix II: Basic Weapons and Tactics 292 Appendix III: Summary of Irish Units 295 Endnotes 301 Select Bibliography 311 Useful Websites 313 Index 314
Cal McCarthy, from Cork, studied history and economics at UCC before going on to work as a civil servant. During a career break he completed his MPhil with a thesis on the 1918 election. He currently works with the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism. Cumann na mBan and the Irish Revolution (2007) was his first book.