The American Civil War Thread

owedtojoy

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A few years ago, viewers were wow'd by one of the greatest history documentaries ever made; Ken Burns' American Civil War.

One of the "stars" of the series was Shelby Foote, author of a magnificent narrative history of the war in three volumes. Foote's easy Southern charm, his mastery of anecdote and his perspective on the war itself were perhaps one of the best things about the series of programmes.

Foote died in 2005. Here are contributions in one video posted on the blog of Kevin Levin, a historian and teacher.

Shelby Foote’s Greatest Hits

Foote's most striking remark to me is that "The greatest display of bravery in the war was the attack by the Union troops at Fredericksburg". Of course, at Fredericksburg (Dec, 1862), the Irish particularly distinguished themseves. We tend not to count the American Civil War as an incident in Irish history. But IMHO its influence may be second only to the First World War.

Irish casualties in the ACW were certainly comparable with any other major war - it may have seen the biggest spiilage of Irish blood in history, particularly if you count 1st and 2nd generation Irish-Americans.
 


wombat

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Irish casualties in the ACW were certainly comparable with any other major war - it may have seen the biggest spiilage of Irish blood in history, particularly if you count 1st and 2nd generation Irish-Americans.
You don't want to exaggerate Irish losses in the war - it was primarily a war between the Wasps - more died than in all other American wars. I have read a lot about it, especially books on Lincoln who was without doubt the greatest American president - the difference between goodness and greatness is well illustrated in his life.
 

kerdasi amaq

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Lincoln's Tariff War - Thomas J. DiLorenzo - Mises Daily

My book, The Real Lincoln, has received much the same response with regard to the tariff issue. But there is overwhelming evidence that: 1) Lincoln, a failed one-term congressman, would never have been elected had it not been for his career-long devotion to protectionism; and 2) the 1861 Morrill tariff, which Lincoln was expected to enforce, was the event that triggered Lincoln’s invasion, which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Lincoln easily one of the worst Presidents the united States ever had, but it is possible that Barry Soetoro will deprive him of this title!
 

Gabha Óir

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A few years ago, viewers were wow'd by one of the greatest history documentaries ever made; Ken Burns' American Civil War.

One of the "stars" of the series was Shelby Foote, author of a magnificent narrative history of the war in three volumes. Foote's easy Southern charm, his mastery of anecdote and his perspective on the war itself were perhaps one of the best things about the series of programmes.

Foote died in 2005. Here are contributions in one video posted on the blog of Kevin Levin, a historian and teacher.

Shelby Foote’s Greatest Hits

Foote's most striking remark to me is that "The greatest display of bravery in the war was the attack by the Union troops at Fredericksburg". Of course, at Fredericksburg (Dec, 1862), the Irish particularly distinguished themseves. We tend not to count the American Civil War as an incident in Irish history. But IMHO its influence may be second only to the First World War.

Irish casualties in the ACW were certainly comparable with any other major war - it may have seen the biggest spiilage of Irish blood in history, particularly if you count 1st and 2nd generation Irish-Americans.
Shelby Foote, IIRC, was first married to a girl called Lavery from outside Belfast. He met her during the second world war while stationed there with the Marines? He got kicked out of the Marines for using more petrol than was allowed on a vist to her or so the story goes.

Fantastic oral historian. His stories and one-liners told in that drawl were a joy to listen to.
 

Magror14

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I lived in Washington DC when that Civil War series came out in the early 1990's. An excellent series.

On the strength of it I visited many of the big battlefields/sites Antietam, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Frederickburg Fort Sumpter. Some people don't realise the extent to which Washington DC was very close to many of the great engagements of the War. I have heard it said that had military strategists in Europe bothered to learn the lessons of the American Civil War the bloodbath of World War I might have been avoided.

Some other trivia. I insisted one of my kids learn "Ashoken Farewell" on the fiddle. I have a miniball in the house that a friend of mine who lived in Alexandria dug up in his back garden. Just thinking about it there is a memorial in Oldtown Alexandria to the Southern war dead. Those memorials are to be found all over the South.

At Antietam 23,000 American lost their lives in a single day the largest loss of life in a single day of American soldiers.

There was a recent movie about the Civil War which I don't think got much coverage "Ride with the Devil" about action by irregular troops over towards Missouri. An Ang Lee movie, enough said. Recommended for all Civil War Buffs.
 

wombat

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I have heard it said that had military strategists in Europe bothered to learn the lessons of the American Civil War the bloodbath of World War I might have been avoided..
Used a Christmas book voucher to buy "The American Civil War" by John Keegan in hardback. Basically, his theory was that the war was influenced by geography but he makes the point that it involved a lot of trench warfare, partly because West Point was basically an engineering school before the war and the generals understood siege works and building defences. It gives an interesting preview of what happened in WWI - maybe Europeans were too arrogant to study what Americans had learned?
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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An Irish Civil War?

This is a thread worth encouraging.

The horror of Fredericksburg disguises another.

Within three months Meagher's Irish Brigade were involved in two of the bloodiest engagements of the War.

First attacking the Sunken Road at Antietam, the 69th New York, the 88th New York, the 28th Massachusetts, 63rd New York, and the 116th Pennsylvania took over 500 casualties. The green banners of the Irish, except that of the 28th Mass, were ripped to pieces.

Then, at Fredericksburg, came the most asymmetric engagement of the war, largely thanks to Burnside's bone-headed lack of appreciation of the situation.

Burnside ordered General Winfield Scott Hancock to advance on Marye's Heights, where the Confederates under General Thomas Cobb of Georgia were several ranks deep behind the defence of the wall on Telegraph Hill. A significant part of this defending force were the "Scotch-Irish" (using the idiom of the time, which most will now deem "politically-incorrect") of Colonel Robert McMillan's 24th Georgia Infantry.

The first assault (French's 3rd Div. 2nd Corps) were ripped apart.

Meagher was ordered into the second wave. With only the 28th Mass banner to show, Meagher ordered green sprigs to be worn in the caps of his men. Meagher's men made good the loss of their colors: they captured the green flag of Captain John Keely's 19th Georgian, the Jackson Guards.

Aw, read up the rest for yourselves.

Throughout the Civil War, the Irish, on both sides, provide a remarkable series of stories. I agree that Foote's trilogy is a magnificent achievement. As I see it, Ken Burns on the Civil War is second only to Ken Burns on Jazz (but only because I've ripped the five CDs derived from the 10-part documentary to my iPod, as a constant companion).
 

Albert Aherne

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Afaik John Mitchells son was a confederate flag bearer during Pickets charge at Gettysburg and was killed along with countless hundreds of Irish over those murderous three days.
I've had a great interest in the civil war and the many Irish connections.I've read S. Foote's 3 volume history a couple of times.It's that interesting and readable. It's fascinating to realise that the men who stopped Pickets charge on the last day of Gettysburg were the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry ..over 90% Irish, in vicious hand to hand fighting,and (according to some) were actually bottled while parading in Philadelphia on their way to war because of their nationality and religion but went home as heroes.We were that unpopular at times:p
 

wombat

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Afaik John Mitchells son was a confederate flag bearer during Pickets charge at Gettysburg and was killed along with countless hundreds of Irish over those murderous three days.
Interesting, I knew he backed the Confederates but I still agree with his view of Irish history. There's a good fiction book called "Banished children of Eve" about the NY anti - conscription riots where they lynched blacks, not something we hear about. On the big picture, Keegan comes to the conclusion that Grant was the best general in the war, despite all the hype about Lee, any thoughts?
 

Magror14

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Interesting, I knew he backed the Confederates but I still agree with his view of Irish history. There's a good fiction book called "Banished children of Eve" about the NY anti - conscription riots where they lynched blacks, not something we hear about. On the big picture, Keegan comes to the conclusion that Grant was the best general in the war, despite all the hype about Lee, any thoughts?
I've heard a civil war aficionado from Georgia claim that Sherman was the best General.
 

Albert Aherne

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wombat;2737189 There's a good fiction book called "Banished children of Eve" about the NY anti - conscription riots where they lynched blacks said:
Being Irish, we naturally disgraced ourselves at times and the New York(and other cities) anti -conscription riots in which some of our people murdered misfortunate Blacks were definitely top of the list. But it's unfair to blame the very ignorant and pauperized Irish who were "just off the boats" and forced into a murderous war which the wealthy were able to avoid by paying a sum of money. The political leadership (Democratic party) were responsible for outrageous opportunism and whipped up the poor Irish (and others).Even the Church came out badly with the Archbishop (I think) of the time telling Lincoln that the Irish would fight for Union but not for the repeal of slavery. Oddly, some of the Irish troops who had just distinguished themselves at Gettysburg had to bloodily put down the riots with great loss of life.
But aside from that awful and shameful period, the Irish greatly distinguished themselves in the civil war and it's a period we can read about with great pride.
 

SJMcMahon

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Irish immigrants were conscripted and others signed up right off the boat to fight for the Federalist. Many Irish also fought in the south but many for ideological reasons as well. It was a horrible war to which the death toll was greater then all other wars in American history put together. Horrible unconstitutional war.
 

grassroots

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Interesting, I knew he backed the Confederates but I still agree with his view of Irish history. There's a good fiction book called "Banished children of Eve" about the NY anti - conscription riots where they lynched blacks, not something we hear about. On the big picture, Keegan comes to the conclusion that Grant was the best general in the war, despite all the hype about Lee, any thoughts?
I visited Gettysburg and saw the sight of Pickets Charge. As Lee ordered the suicidal frontal charge, it is obvious his ability is overrated.
 

Albert Aherne

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Horrible unconstitutional war.
Horrible yes but unconstitutional? ... I doubt it.
And would it would have been better to allow the slave states break away and to continue slavery for ever? The Confederate leadership were never going to give up slavery. Actually it should all have been over at the first battle (Bull Run) but the Union generalship was so incompetent that a raging continental war was in progress before they managed to win their first battle.


Here's a very interesting site concerning the Irish involvement. The Wild Geese Today -- The Civil War
 

SJMcMahon

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Didn't Pickett order the charge or was he just in command of that unit? I've been to Gettysburg; it's a beautiful place minus its history.

The movie Gangs of New York incorporates some of the history of the New York Draft riots including the lynching of blacks. I believe it had more to do with all the recently liberated blacks flooding the city and competing with the blue collar Irish for jobs as well as being blamed for their people being sent off to war to be killed and maimed for the perceived liberation of slaves.
 

SJMcMahon

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Horrible yes but unconstitutional? ... I doubt it.
And would it would have been better to allow the slave states break away and to continue slavery for ever? The Confederate leadership were never going to give up slavery. Actually it should all have been over at the first battle (Bull Run) but the Union generalship was so incompetent that a raging continental war was in progress before they managed to win their first battle.


Here's a very interesting site concerning the Irish involvement. The Wild Geese Today -- The Civil War
Slavery was not illegal and the war had nothing to do with slavery. The war was over states rights and the state right in contention was the right to succeed which was not illegal. The confederacy did strike first but the federalist were already preparing for military action in that early arms race. I'm against slavery but I still believe and can be argued from a legal standpoint that States do/did have a right to succeed but the post war Supreme Court and Congress made it illegal and used judicial activism to deem it illegal. Remember during reconstruction the condederate states were no longer states and had no say in congress so the federalist northern congress was able to change the constitution without contention.
 

IvoShandor

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I visited Gettysburg and saw the sight of Pickets Charge. As Lee ordered the suicidal frontal charge, it is obvious his ability is overrated.
Even Homer nodded...the best make mistakes. Napoleon's genius is not doubted, but he botched it at Waterloo and in Russia.

Slavery was not illegal....
Phew! That's a relief..I was worried there for a moment.But I guess its OK so.

SJMcMahon; said:
I'm against slavery but I still believe and can be argued from a legal standpoint that States do/did have a right to succeed....
I should certainly hope so!
 
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wombat

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Didn't Pickett order the charge or was he just in command of that unit? ..
Yes and yes. I believe Lee overuled Longstreet but that may be Longstreet's version, since he outlived Lee. We should not overemphasise the Irish role, it was primarily a Wasp war. One of the points that Keegan makes in his book is that people were very committed to their cause, whether they wanted to save the union, free the slaves or protect the states rights and this contributed to the ferocity.
 

wombat

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Slavery was not illegal and the war had nothing to do with slavery.
The war had everything to do with slavery. Once Lincoln was elected, the southern states started to secede but the issue had been smouldering since the 1850's - the whole question of whether new states would be free or slave had been festering since Texas was annexed.
 

jmcc

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Didn't Pickett order the charge or was he just in command of that unit? I've been to Gettysburg; it's a beautiful place minus its history.
From what I remember, Lee ordered the charge. Afterwards, when Lee told Pickett to regroup his division, Pickett was supposed to have replied "General, I have no division!". Some of the generals were fighting with classic Napoleonic tactics against weapons that had advanced beyond those of Napoleon's time. Then again there is the expression about generals always fighting the last war.

Regards...jmcc
 


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