‘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 of the War’, which predicted imminent victory. Revealing their strong Democratic affiliations, they also cautioned on the need for a reconciliatory peace with the soon to be former Confederacy. It is often noted that many Irish-Americans displayed ‘dual allegiance’ to both the United States and Ireland. This outlook is clearly apparent in another of the articles in the 8th April issue, entitled ‘The “Next War.”‘ Even as the Civil War continued, the Irish-American turned its gaze across the Atlantic towards ‘John Bull’, advising that America embark on ‘the next war’– to bring down Great Britain.


The most skeptical doubter of the eventual triumph of the national arms must be convinced by this, that the end of the rebellion which has for four years convulsed our once happy land with the destructive throes of civil war, cannot be far distant. In view of the recent victories of our forces, the capture of the rebel Capital, and the cutting off of the remnant of the Confederate armies from most of the sources of supply necessary to their maintenance, as fighting organizations, it is taking a very moderate estimate of the probabilities of the military situation, to suppose that, before the recurrence of the third anniversary of the first battle of the attempted revolution, all organized resistance will have ceased within the land, and the “Stars and Stripes” shall once more wave in undisputed sway throughout the length and breadth of the Republic.

But, even this is not the end of the war. It is now, above all former periods, that wise statesmanship and patriotic counsels are needed, not merely to bring a disastrous struggle to a termination, but to replace the country in the position of strength and stability it occupied before the passions and ambition of unscrupulous politicians plunged it into the sea of troubles in which so much of that which is most valuable to a young nation has been lost. In bringing back the seceded States into the Union, no one who truly loves the Republic, or appreciates the genius of her institutions, can desire that a single drawback should be permitted to mar the happiness of so blest a reunion. We trust, therefore, that the rumor, that President Lincoln is about to mark his sense of the national importance of our late successes by the issue of a proclamation of amnesty, is true; and that, when the struggle ceases, we shall receive back once more, not mere wasted fields or subjugated populations, but those component parts of our nationality, that, however they may have been estranged for a time, still share in the sovereign character of the American people, and will yet constitute an element of renewed and augmented strength, from the mutual respect which the bitter lessons of the past four years, at least, have inculcated. (1)

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

‘The Fenian Banner’, 1866 (Library of Congress)


Our domestic broil, thank God, is almost at an end; and within our bordered the blessings of peace will, ere long, be experienced. But we are not, therefore, amongst the anxious inculcators of “peace.” On the contrary, we take this opportunity to declare, in advance, in favor of “the next war.” There is a certain party “over the way” with whom we have an account to settle. It has been running longer than some people imagine; but the last four years have added so many and such heavy items to the bill, that it cannot hold over any longer. We “go in,” then, for bringing John Bull “square up to the rack,” and exacting restitution and retribution to the last iota. If any of our volunteers should be tried of fighting (which we doubt, with such a chance at the old pirate ahead), we will guarantee that no “draft” will be needed to fill their places. For a dash at John Bull they are ready, on both sides of the Atlantic, half a million of the finest fighting material under the sun,– the same that has given to the Union so many heroic defenders. Let America but say the word and the “Union Jack,” the red flag of oppression and spoliation, goes down– at once and forever– before the banner of Freedom. (2)

(1) New York Irish American Weekly 8th April 1865; (2) Ibid.;


New York Irish American Weekly 8th April 1865. The End of the War

New York Irish American Weekly 8th April 1865. The “Next War”


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Categories: Discussion and Debate

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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7 Comments on “‘The Next War’: The New York Irish-American Looks Towards John Bull, April 1865”

  1. John Murphy
    April 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Amazing thought. Weariness of war was sure to suppress this idea.

    • May 6, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Hi John,

      You are right there- the vast majority of men who signed up as Fenians during the conflict took no active part in the military efforts of the movement after the war.

      Kind Regards,


  2. April 5, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Well, the Fenians got straight down to the business it seems!

    • May 6, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      They were keen to keep up the momentum alright Tony!

  3. April 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History.

  4. April 10, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    Interesting to speculate how things might have gone if those half million fighting machines had followed through on this threat.

    • May 6, 2015 at 9:43 am #

      Hi Finola,

      Certainly if all the men who had signed up as Fenians had taken an active military part back in Ireland it may have had a much more notable impact, although ultimately it may just have increased the body count- we will never know.

      Kind Regards,


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