Did the Irish Potato Famine Help Doom the Confederacy?

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I happened to read a line today that said that the Irish potato famine helped doomed the Confederacy because of the tremendous amount of immigration that poured into this country. Apparently recruiting posters for the Union side were printed in different languages too and posted where? In New York City? And apparently the 1862 Homestead Act was publicized around the world to attract immigrants and 800,000 came during the war. I didn’t realize that.

There might be two or three issues here in this thread. But the Irish Potato Famine has certainly sparked my curiosity and I never thought about that before. There were certainly Irish units on both sides but were there more on one side or the other? Or were they fairly equal?
 
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wausaubob

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Prisoner exchanges were halted by Stanton's order on July 13, 1863 --long before Grant had any say about it--and remained that way until early 1865. Grant's name is not even mentioned in connection with the exchanges until April 17, 1864 when as a Lt. General he acknowleges the policy already in place and opines that they cannot resume until captured USCTs are afforded POW status AND the Confederacy release the corresponding amount of Union prisoners to compensate for the the paroled Confederate prisoners from Vicksburg who violated the cartel agreement when they were put back into service.
A war of attrition becomes a necessity once Grant captures Vicksburg and the Port Hudson garrison surrenders. At that point the small white populations of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas are for the most part cut off from the rest of the Confederacy.
At about the same time, Rosecrans is expanding the zone of US occupation in Tennessee. At that point the Confederate recruiting area is deflating and the Confederates will eventually run out of white men.
At the same time, 1863, immigration into the US is reaching more normal levels. And it is this immigration that is keeping the US ports and US navy fully manned.
 

Grant's Tomb

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There's a book that came out in 2016 called the Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan. It's a biography of Thomas F. Meagher who commanded the Irish Brigade for a time then after the war he tried to build a new Ireland in the Wild West of Montana-an adventure that ended in the great mystery of his disappearance. There's another book that came out in 2019 called When the Irish invaded Canada, the incredible true story of the Civil War veterans who fought for Ireland's freedom by Christopher Klein. Not long after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, a band of Union and Confederate veterans decided to seize Canada and hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured.
 

James N.

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I've not seen this discussed here, but one of the things to keep in mind about Cleburne is he was from a middle-class Anglo-Irish Protestant family. He would not have faced the same discrimination that Irish Catholics faced either at home in Ireland or in the United States after emigrating.
Oddly and perhaps surprisingly enough, the strong anti-immigrant prejudice evidently wasn't as great in the South as in the North or Midwest where I believe the Know-Nothing sentiment was strongest.
 

Zella

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Oddly and perhaps surprisingly enough, the strong anti-immigrant prejudice evidently wasn't as great in the South as in the North or Midwest where I believe the Know-Nothing sentiment was strongest.
That's true, but I don't think he would have been quite as popular in Helena, AR, as he was if he had been an Irish Catholic as opposed to an Irish Anglican. My main point is I think it is problematic to lump Cleburne into a discussion about Irish Catholic migration due to the Famine since that is not at all why he immigrated.
 

GwilymT

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Oddly and perhaps surprisingly enough, the strong anti-immigrant prejudice evidently wasn't as great in the South as in the North or Midwest where I believe the Know-Nothing sentiment was strongest.
Cleburne was the “right” type of Irish Immigrant, a middle class Protestant. It’s fitting that there was more anti-immigrant sentiment in the north as that’s where the vastly overwhelming number of immigrants were.

However, this didn’t stop a gun fight between the Irishman and the know nothings in 1856 in Helena where Cleburne was shot in the back. So I guess the anti-immigrant sentiment was just as strong in the south. The good ol Arkansas boys shot Patrick in the back.
 
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GwilymT

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That's true, but I don't think he would have been quite as popular in Helena, AR, as he was if he had been an Irish Catholic as opposed to an Irish Anglican. My main point is I think it is problematic to lump Cleburne into a discussion about Irish Catholic migration due to the Famine since that is not at all why he immigrated.
Correct, a well off Protestant family immigrating to become members of the planter or professional class in the south is quite different from destitute Catholics fleeing starvation. It’s also worth noting that Cleburne first went to Ohio and then only later moved south.
 
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SJU

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Sometimes I think nativism and prejudice are over emphasized when discussing famine era Irish immigration. I'm just guessing that the average famine immigrant didn't directly experience it or dwell on it. Even a tough menial job here typically gave people the opportunity to provide for their family.
The American Historical Review April 2002 issue has a great article by Tyler Anbinder titled "From Famine to Five Points: Lord Landsdowne's Irish Tenants Encounter North America's Most Notorious Slum." It's a very interesting article with real in depth research. It covers a group of some of the most destitute Irish immigrants arriving in NYC in the 1850s. Within a couple of years these people were doing remarkably well. Take a look. I can't find a free link to the article.
 
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James N.

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Cleburne was the “right” type of Irish Immigrant, a middle class Protestant. It’s fitting that there was more anti-immigrant sentiment in the north as that’s where the vastly overwhelming number of immigrants were.

However, this didn’t stop a gun fight between the Irishman and the know nothings in 1856 in Helena where Cleburne was shot in the back. So I guess the anti-immigrant sentiment was just as strong in the south. The good ol Arkansas boys shot Patrick in the back.
I don't think that had as much to do with anti-Irish sentiment as it did with local political rivalries - Pat had come to the defense of his best friend and associate Tom Hindman (like Pat a future Confederate general but who was NOT himself Irish) who was scuffling with a mob, I believe after a political rally. Hindman was a noted troublemaker who later antagonized many Arkansans when he basically ruled the state as military governor/dictator in the wake of the disaster at Pea Ridge and withdrawal of the majority of Confederate troops there under Van Dorn east of the Mississippi. (Pat was already there, participating with his brigade in the Battle of Shiloh, after which he was promoted to division command.) Hindman remained in Arkansas rebuilding a military force which he in turn led to defeat at Prairie Grove in December, 1862, following which he too went east. Whether because of his draconian "rule", prewar politics, lackluster military career, or some entirely different reason, following the war and his return to Arkansas, Hindman was murdered, shot through the open window of his home by an unknown assailant.
 
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