Irish Americans in the Confederate Army

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About the Book

In 1861, Americans flooded to enlist for what all thought would be a short and glorious war. Anxious to prove their loyalty to their new homeland, thousands of Irish immigrants were among those who hurried to join the fight on both sides. While the efforts of the Union’s legendary Irish Brigade are well documented, little has been said regarding the role Irish American soldiers played for the Confederacy. This comprehensive history explores the Irish contribution to the Confederate military effort throughout the four major combat theatres of the Civil War.
Beginning with an overview of Irish Americans in the South, the book looks at the Irish immigrant experience and the character of the typical Irish Confederate soldier, detailing the ways in which Irish communities supported the Southern war effort. The main focus is the military actions in which Irish American soldiers were present in significant or influential numbers. With a combat death rate disproportionate to their numbers, the 40,000 Irish who served in the Confederate army played significant roles in the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of Tennessee, the hotly disputed coastal areas and the Mississippi and Trans-Mississippi campaigns. Most major battles of the war are discussed including Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Murfreesboro and Appomattox. Appendices contain a list of various Irish commands and field commanders in the Confederate Army.

About the Author(s)

The late Sean Michael O’Brien was a retired educator and free lance writer. He lived in Eufaula, Alabama.

Bibliographic Details

Sean Michael O’Brien
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: 73 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013 [2007]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7514-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0309-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Maps      vii
Foreword by Kelly J. O’Grady      1
Preface      3
Prologue: Celtic War Cry      7

PART I. THE IRISH EXPERIENCE IN THE SOUTH
1. The New Country: Irish Immigrants in the South      11
2. Fighting Irish: The Character of the Irish Confederate Soldier      23
3. Home Front: The Irish Family, Community, and Church in War      33

PART II. THE IRISH IN THE ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA
4. Green Flag Unfurled: Manassas and the Valley Campaign      43
5. Defending Richmond: The Seven Days, June 1862      53
6. Southern Offensive: Second Manassas and Sharpsburg, August–September 1862      64
7. “With Distinguished Gallantry and Coolness”: Fredericksburg, December 1862      79
8. “A Stubborn and Bloody Conflict”: Gettysburg, July 1863      87
9. “To No Avail”: Wilderness to Appomattox, May 1864–April 1865      100

PART III. THE IRISH IN THE ARMY OF TENNESSEE
10. Hornets’ Nest: The Irish at Shiloh, April 1862      109
11. “Gallantry and Courage”: Perryville and Murfreesboro, October–December 1862      116
12. The Contest for Chattanooga: Chickamauga to Ringgold Gap, September–November 1863      127
13. The Contest for Atlanta, May–September 1864      141
14. “Carnival of Death”: Franklin, November 1864      156

PART IV. THE IRISH IN THE COASTAL STRONGHOLDS
15. “Up-Hill Work”: Charleston, Savannah, and Fort Fisher      167
16. To the Last Ditch: From Fort Pickens to Fort Blakely, 1861–1865      177

PART V: THE IRISH IN THEMISSISSIPPI AND TRANS-MISSISSIPPI CAMPAIGNS
17. The Struggle for the Mississippi      189
18. West of the Sabine: The Irish in Texas      200

Epilogue: “Their Bones Lie on Every Battle-Field”      211
Appendix 1: Irish Commands in the Confederate Army      215
Appendix 2: Some Irish-American Field Commanders in the Confederate Army      226
Chapter Notes      237
Works Cited      247
Index      251

Book Reviews & Awards

“wonderful story…an easy read…extensive research…a treasure trove…excellent resource”—Civil War News; “provides a blow-by-blow account of Irish participation in virtually all of the major Confederate battles…useful battle maps”—The Journal of Southern History; “an important addition to this long-neglected subject, and should be read by anyone interested in Irish or Irish-American history”—Blue & Gray Magazine; “explores the often-overlooked contribution of Irish Americans to the Confederate military effort”—Reference & Research Book News.