Revised Thesis Statement
The Irish were a significant part of the forces that made up the Civil War, and even though they fought in every battle during the Civil War, some people think that the riots that happened around the time of the war made it difficult for the Irish immigrants to assimilate into society. Thousands of Irish immigrants enlisted in the Union Army because of the bishops urging and to show their support for the Union cause. Irish heritage units were crucial to the Seven Days Battles, Gettysburg, and Chancellorsville. They helped establish Americanism and simulation of the Irish immigrants. There isn’t any solid historical evidence that proves that No Irish Need Apply signs even existed. The discrimination of Irish immigrants may have had more to do with the skills that they had that did not work with the skills needed in the cities that they settled in.
When the Conscription and Enrollment act fueled the draft riots, the working Irish felt targeted to have to fight in the rich man’s war. Because they felt targeted, many of the mob rioters were Irish Americans. This resulted in Draft Riots in many major cities. Gottesman and Brown described the riots as:
“in short order, buildings, factories, shops, and homes were looted and set on fire, their occupants killed or injured” and “African Americans were especially in danger–earlier in the year African Americans had been used to break a longshoremen’s strike on the docks and working-class racial antagonism, always prevalent, was at an extreme. On the first day of rioting, a crowd razed the Colored Orphan Asylum and later lynched a black man whose body they set on fire. Throughout the insurrection, hangings of African Americans were accompanied by mutilations and other acts of brutality and defilement” (1999).
The Draft Act made all male citizens enlist. There were very few exclusions. African American’s were not required to enlist as they were not considered citizens. Thousands of Irish men attacked government and military buildings. They became extremely violent to people who tried to stop them.
The behaviors of the Irish immigrants went beyond just feeling targeted by draftees for the Civil War. They were also having a problem fitting in with the new culture and trying to rebuild their lives. They also felt that they had to compete for jobs with the newly freed African Americans. The Irish men thought that they needed to prove their loyalty to their new country and felt that they were being treated unfairly because they were in a competition for employment with the African Americans.
A division was also created in the Irish community due to the Civil War. Although about 22% of the Union’s Army consisted of Irish and Irish Americans, the Confederation’s Army was made up of about 10% Irish and Irish Americans. Patrick Dunny, an Irish soldier, wrote a letter to his family after the fight in Bull Run. Dunny wrote,
“But one thing I know you heard nothing of, which is grievous to every Irishman, is that two Irish regiments met on that dreadful battlefield. One was the 69th of New York, a nobler set of man there was not in the world, who carried the green flag of Erin all day proudly through showers of bullets. The other Irish regiment was from Louisiana, also composed of good Irishmen who think just as much of Ireland. They opposed the 69th all day, trying to capture the poor green flag, and they took it four times, but four times they had to give it up.” (Dunny, 1861).
The Irish who supported to Confederate did not support them because they supported slavery. They wanted to fight for the new place that had welcomed them in when they first immigrated to America. When they joined the Army, this provided a stable income and career, which gave them the chance to better their lives. When the Reconstruction Era hit, they took a stand in favor of white supremacy and took on significant roles in attacking African Americans during the riots in New Orleans and Memphis (Waller, 1984).
The immigration of the Irish to America helped shape the country in all perspectives. Irish culture has influenced today’s American culture, from holidays to mannerism. “With a powerful influence in shaping the development of Irish-American history. Irish immigrants built strong urban communities; they were primarily a working-class people throughout much of the nineteenth century; they were very active in religion, politics, and labor” (Dolan, J., 1990).
- Dolan, J. (1990). [The Irish in America]: Introduction. Journal of American Ethnic History, 10(1/2), 8-15. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/stable/27500797
- Gleeson, D. (2013). Another “Lost Cause”: The Irish after the Confederacy. In The Green and the Gray: The Irish in the Confederate States of America (pp. 187-220). University of North Carolina Press. Retrieved from
- Draft Riots. (1999). In R. Gottesman & R. M. Brown (Eds.), Violence in America. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/apps/doc/BT2350011102/UHIC?u=nhc_main&sid=UHIC&xid=f2d85b41
- Dunny, P. (1999). Letter from Irish-American Soldier during Civil War. In American Journey. The Immigrant Experience. Woodbridge, CT: Primary Source Media. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/apps/doc/EJ2154000089/UHIC?u=nhc_main&sid=UHIC&xid=c66befe3
- Waller, A. (1984). Community, Class and Race in the Memphis Riot of 1866. Journal of Social History, 18(2), 233-246. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3787286