History Of Irish Immigration In North America And Their Role In The Civil War.

1391 words - 6 pages

Immigration PaperSince the beginning of this nation there has been immigration. It is in fact what makes this country so great, and what it is today. If people weren't willing to take the already deadly trip across the Atlantic, America might not even be here today. The immigrants I will be focusing on, which were part of the first major wave of immigrants to ever come to America. They were also a major part of the American Civil War. The moment they got off the ship there were union recruiters. There is perhaps no other ethnic group so closely identified with the Civil War years and the immediate aftermath of the war as Irish Americans. Of those Irish who came over much later than the founding generations, fully' 150,000 of them joined the Union army. Unfortunately, statistics for the Confederacy are sketchy at best; still, one has but to listen to the Southern accent, and listen to the sorts of tunes Southern soldiers loved to sing, to realize that a great deal of the South was settled by Irish immigrants. But because the white population of the Confederate states was more native-born than immigrant during the Civil War years, there did not seem as much of a drive in the Southern army to recognize heritage in the names and uniforms of regiments as there was in the Union forces.One main reason for the large scale immigration by the Irish was because of the potato famine. It began with a blight of the potato crop that left acre upon acre of Irish farmland covered with black rot. As harvests across Europe failed, the price of food soared. Subsistence-level Irish farmers found their food stores rotting in their cellars, the crops they relied on to pay the rent to their British and Protestant landlords destroyed. Peasants who ate the rotten produce sickened and entire villages were consumed with cholera and typhus. Parish priests desperate to provide for their congregations were forced to forsake buying coffins in order to feed starving families, with the dead going unburied or buried only in the clothes they wore when they died. Landlords evicted hundreds of thousands of peasants, who then crowded into disease-infested workhouses. Other landlords paid for their tenants to live elsewhere, sending hundreds of thousands of Irish to America and other English-speaking countries. But even emigration was no panacea -- shipowners often crowded hundreds of desperate Irish onto rickety vessels labeled "coffin ships." In many cases, these ships reached port only after losing a third of their passengers to disease, hunger and other causes. While Britain provided much relief for Ireland's starving populace, many Irish criticized Britain's delayed response -- and further blamed centuries of British political oppression on the underlying causes of the famine.Most Irish immigrants came to America to escape the potato famine, and some came for economic gain. Yet the Irish didn't know that America was in the middle of the Civil War. During the Civil War the United...

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