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African-Americans being attacked during the Memphis Race Riots of 1866, an incident in which the majority of the rioters were Irish (Library of Congress)

“The Blacks Fought Like Hell”: Exploring Racism & Racist Violence through the Words & Actions of Two Union Irish Cavalrymen

This month is Black History Month in the United States. To mark that occasion, I wanted to once again explore an aspect of the often-fraught relationship between Irish-Americans and African-Americans during the Civil War era. It is a topic we return to regularly on the site (e.g. see here, here, here and here).  The concept […]

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John Warren, Captain of Company B, 63rd New York, Irish Brigade. Born in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, he was discharged in September 1862. (Kane 2002: 134)

Union Rebels: The Erin’s Hope– Fenian Gunrunning by Civil War Veterans

Large numbers of Irish and Irish-American Civil War soldiers were also members of the Fenian Brotherhood. The workings of this movement, and how it interacted with the conflict of 1861-65, has been the topic of a number of posts on this site. However, we have not previously looked in any detail at the participation of Civil […]

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Emancipation, by Thomas Nast, 1865 (Library of Congress)

‘Slavery, At Last, Is At An End’: Reporting on the Ratification of the 13th Amendment in Ireland

150 years ago today the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery was ratified– it’s adoption was proclaimed on 18th December by Secretary of State William H. Seward. As we have explored on the site, the ideological motivations for the service of Union Irish soldiers (where it existed) seem to have been strongly tilted towards preserving […]

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A soldier springs the trapdoor, with men looking on from the trees beyond (Library of Congress)

Edward Wellington Boate: The Andersonville POW Who Came to the Defence of Henry Wirz

Waterford’s Edward Wellington Boate belongs to the large cohort of Irish journalists who ended up fighting, or in someway participating, in the American Civil War. His story is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating. A member of the Tammany regiment, the 42nd New York, his capture and incarceration as a POW set him on a path […]

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'The Fenian Banner', 1866 (Library of Congress)

‘The Next War’: The New York Irish-American Looks Towards John Bull, April 1865

150 years ago this month the American Civil War seemed on the verge of ending. The fall of Richmond on 3rd April appeared to have hammered a final nail in the coffin of the Confederate cause. When the New York Irish-American Weekly came out on Saturday 8th April, they printed a piece entitled ‘The End […]

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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny with President Barack Obama in The White House (Wikipedia)

Selling ‘Ireland’ and Forgetting the ‘Irish’? Some Thoughts on the Taoiseach’s St. Patrick’s Day Speech

This week Ireland’s Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, visited America for St. Patrick’s Day. Each March, our small country enjoys exceptional treatment on the other side of the Atlantic, treatment which includes a meeting with the President of the United States at The White House. Ireland’s relationship with the U.S. is the envy of other small countries. […]

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The 1862 'Tiffany' Color of the 69th New York, Presented by President Kennedy to the Irish People in 1963

How Many Irish Fought in the American Civil War?

As I have often noted on this site, the American Civil War is the only conflict in the Irish experience which compares with World War One in terms of scale. But just how many Irish served during the conflict? Relatively little detailed modern research has taken place to establish this, and it is undoubtedly a […]

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Gangs of New York: Recruiting the Irish ‘Straight Off the Boat’

One of the best known scenes in Martin Scorcese’s 2002 movie Gangs of New York is that which depicts the enlistment of Irish emigrants ‘straight off the boat’ into the Union army. The seemingly unsuspecting men are quickly dressed in uniform and packed off for the front, even as those unfortunates who have gone before are brought […]

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Former slaves in Beaufort, South Carolina shortly after Emancipation (Library of Congress)

In Bondage to the Irish: Slave Ownership Among Irish Confederate Officers

A total of sixteen Irish-born men reached the rank of either Colonel or General in the Confederate forces during the American Civil War. What was these men’s relationship with and investment in slavery, if any? The most famous slavery-related incident involving an Irish Confederate officer was Major-General Patrick Cleburne’s 1864 proposal to arm the slaves. Cleburne […]

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Captain Robert Halpin from Co. Wicklow was commemorated in a series of famous mariner stamps by An Post in 2003. Although most famous forr laying telegraphic cables, he was also a blockade runner in the American Civil War

Has Ireland Missed the Last Opportunity to Remember Her American Civil War Dead?

Last year we had an appeal on the site asking readers to consider proposing Irish involvement in the American Civil War as an appropriate topic to be covered in An Post’s (the Irish postal service) 2015 stamp programme. A number of you did so. An Post were in touch last week to say that the […]

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