By 1864 there was very little popular support remaining in Ireland for the American Civil War. Added to this there was a perception (whether real or imagined) that Federal agents were extremely active in the country, either directly recruiting Irishmen for service in the Union army or duping them into taking passage across the Atlantic where they would then be forced to enlist. Many Irish newspapers were extremely vocal about the issue. A previous post on the site provided a link to a 5th April 1864 piece in the The Irish Times, where it was claimed recent Irish arrivals in New York were being abducted and forced into the army.

The fact that this issue was a hot topic in Ireland at the time is revealed by the latest addition to The Irish Times ‘From the Archives’ feature. The paper has once again delved into their 1864 issues, this time focusing on an editorial from 1st March that year. The editor describes a practice whereby Federal agents recruited a large number of men in Dublin to ostensibly work on a railroad, and arranged their passage to the United States. He tells of their isolation and segregation upon arrival in New York, eventually being left with no option but to enlist in the army in order to survive.

There is little doubt that Federal agents were at work in Ireland during the Civil War years and that the Confederacy sent their own agents to undermine these efforts. There remains debate as to the extent of these activities and how much truth there is in the types of incidents related by papers such as The Irish Times. Nonetheless it is a fascinating aspect of the Irish experience of the American Civil War. You can read the full editorial from 1864 here.