Image description: During the fall and winter of 1861-62, Thomas Meagher, an Irish Revolutionary who had immigrated to New York City after escaping from a British prison in 1852, organized the Irish Brigade.
The Irish Brigade was a group of Irish-American soldiers who fought in the Civil War to prove their worth as U.S. citizens. According to historians, the Irish Brigade fought so they could live in a country that didn’t discriminate against their Irish culture and Catholic religion.
The Brigade was made up mostly of Irish immigrants to the Northeast, and they earned a reputation for their bravery in some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, including the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Image from the Library of Congress.
Learn more about Irish-Amercians and St. Patrick’s Day.
The Irish have contributed a great deal more to American culture than just potatoes, and March is Irish-American heritage month, when we celebrate the contributions of Irish Americans to our nation.
In the 1840s, many Irish immigrants came to America to escape the potato famine that left more than a million people dead from starvation and disease. The immigrants who came to America at this time had very little education or possessions, and when they arrived in America they encountered poverty and discrimination.
These Irish-Americans rose above their hardships and many made great contributions to America by becoming political, religious and union leaders. Now almost 40 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry.
Today many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish and Irish-American holiday commemorating the death, as legend has it, of Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.