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Civil War CitizensRace, Ethnicity, and Identity in America's Bloodiest Conflict$
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Susannah J. Ural

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814785690

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814785690.001.0001

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“Ye Sons of Green Erin Assemble”

“Ye Sons of Green Erin Assemble”

Northern Irish American Catholics and the Union War Effort, 1861–1865

(p.99) 3 “Ye Sons of Green Erin Assemble”
Civil War Citizens

Susannah J. Ural

NYU Press

This chapter examines the initial motivations behind Irish American Catholics' enlistments in the early years of the war; how their views of the conflict, as well as the opinions of their communities, changed as the war evolved; and how this influenced the memory of Irish American volunteerism during the Civil War. Nearly 150,000 Irish Americans served in the Union army during the Civil War. They participated in all the major eastern battles of the war, including First Manassas, the Seven Days' Battles, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Irish Americans volunteered for a number of reasons. Some were members of the Irish nationalist organization the Irish American Brotherhood, better known as the Fenians, and joined the Union army to gain military experience that they could apply to a future war of independence from Great Britain. Other Irish Americans volunteered to preserve America as a refuge for Irish immigrants like themselves. Some Irish men cited a sense of debt to America when they enlisted and hoped to prove their loyalty through dedicated service. Finally, Irish Americans volunteered to secure a steady income, especially when local, state, and federal enlistment bounties totaled several hundred dollars.

Keywords:   Civil War, Irish American Catholics, volunteerism, Union army, enlistment, Irish immigrants

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