"Give us war in our time": America's Irish communities at war in the Civil War era

Ryan William Keating, Fordham University


This dissertation proposes that the localized nature of American society during the mid-nineteenth century must be considered as a vital aspect of the ethnic experience during the Civil War. Certainly, Irish-Americans were bound by a shared set of ideologies. Based in part around notions of exile and the disenfranchisement of the Famine, Irish in Ireland and the United States stressed public displays of military prowess in an effort prove to the world the might of their race. Despite these shared notions of nationality, Irish units were unique manifestations of their local communities. Like their countrymen in larger east coast cities, Irish and Irish Americans in Connecticut, Illinois, and Wisconsin joined both ethnic and mixed regiments and dedicated the next four years of their lives to the salvation of the Union. Although many soldiers identified themselves by their choice to volunteer in an Irish unit, the extent to which this unit designation reflected the physical composition of the regiment differed vastly, thus complicating the ability to identify a collective identity among the soldiers who served in these regiments. Furthermore, because the relationship between immigrants and their local communities differed widely, the experiences of soldiers and their families also differed as the war progressed, illustrating the tentative connections that existed among immigrants in the United States during the mid 19th-century.

Subject Area

American history|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Keating, Ryan William, ""Give us war in our time": America's Irish communities at war in the Civil War era" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3588217.