The Harp and the Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861-1865

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Soon, however, the number of Irish-Americans in some cities grew so great that immigrant Patrick Murphy stated "New York is a grand handsome city. But you would hardly know you had left Ireland. Most Irish-Americans had settled in the northern, American states [1] and were thus called up to serve when the southern states seceded and formed the Confederacy in Many Irish-Americans on both sides formed their own units which embraced Irish customs such as Catholic masses and priests.

On March 3, , Congress passed the Enrollment Act which required single men age 20 to 45 and married men up to age 35 to register for the draft. This act angered many northern whites, mainly Irish immigrants who had accepted U. Fuel was added to the fire of their anger when black men, mostly freed slaves, were excluded from this same draft.

"Harp and Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861-1865" by Dr. Susannah J. Ural

The Irish feared that newly freed slaves from the South would migrate to the North and create further competition in the labor market. Both of these provisions were created with the intention of softening the effect of the draft on pacifiers, the anti-draft movement and the propertied classes. The result however was general public resentment which then turned to fury. A few days after the Enrollment Act was passed, in March 6, , the Detroit Race Riot of erupted in Detroit , Michigan , as Irish rioted for days over the draft as well as targeting black workers.

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Four months later, on July 13—16, as the first draft being held in New York City , the mostly Irish working class of the city started the New York City draft riots. Stores were looted and offices of newspapers which supported the Union were ransacked and burned to the ground.


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The rioters then targeted black people as many rioters saw the American Civil War as a war to free the slaves and thus blamed them for the draft, as well as the war. Many black people were caught by the mob, stabbed, and lynched as a result. When the riots started, the New York State Militia were absent because they had been sent to assist regular Union troops repelling General Lee's Confederate Army in Pennsylvania , thus leaving the New York City Police Department as the only serious force available to put down the riot.

The city police were unable to halt a crowd which was ten times more numerous, and the rioting continued. Two days after the riot started, word came that the draft had been suspended. Federal troops returning from the Battle of Gettysburg were sent to the city to quell the riot and peace was finally restored in the streets of New York City more than a day later. An estimated people are thought to have died in the draft riots in New York City, which makes this the most deadly civil insurrection in American history. Seven Union generals were Irish-born while an estimated , Irish-Americans fought for the Union during the war.

The 69th New York Volunteers flew a green flag with a golden harp on it, symbolizing Ireland. At the Battle of Fredericksburg , the brigade charged up Marye's Heights , suffering The E-mail Address es field is required. Please enter recipient e-mail address es. The E-mail Address es you entered is are not in a valid format.

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    Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Harp and the eagle. Reviews Editorial reviews. Publisher Synopsis "With remarkable sensitivity and acuity Bruce goes digging among the personal and public accounts of the Irish soldiers in the Union army and presents these soldiers, and their families and communities, on their own terms so that they emerge as real people conflicted and changed by the demands of war and the obligations of 'community.

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