Irish American Civil War Songs
Identity, Loyalty, and Nationhood
318 Pages / 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.88 in / 9 halftones
- Hardcover /
- 9780807177938 /
- Published: September 2022
- eBook /
- 9780807178386 /
- Published: September 2022
Irish-born and Irish-descended soldiers and sailors were involved in every major engagement of the American Civil War. Throughout the conflict, they shared their wartime experiences through songs and song lyrics, leaving behind a vast trove of ballads in songbooks, letters, newspaper publications, wartime diaries, and other accounts. Taken together, these songs and lyrics offer an underappreciated source of contemporary feelings and opinions about the war.
Catherine V. Bateson’s Irish American Civil War Songs provides the first in-depth exploration of Irish Americans’ use of balladry to portray and comment on virtually every aspect of the war as witnessed by the Irish on the front line and home front. Bateson considers the lyrics, themes, and sentiments of wartime songs produced in America but often originating with those born across the Atlantic in Ireland and Britain. Her analysis gives new insight into views held by the Irish migrant diaspora about the conflict and the ways those of Irish descent identified with and fought to defend their adopted homeland.
Bateson’s investigation of Irish American song lyrics within the context of broader wartime experiences enhances our understanding of the Irish contribution to the American Civil War. At the same time, it demonstrates how Irish songs shaped many American balladry traditions as they laid the foundation of the Civil War’s musical soundscape.
“Bateson’s book is an engaging and highly original study of Irish American Civil War songs, an overlooked aspect of Civil War cultural history. Bateson skillfully identifies critical transnational links between Ireland and the United States relating to individual and national identities, cultural heritages, and wartime experiences. This book is a brilliant contribution to the field that places Civil War–era history in a global perspective.” ~Amanda Brickell Bellows, author of American Slavery and Russian Serfdom in the Post-Emancipation Imagination
“This fine book recounts how ‘the fighting Irish’ consolidated their identity as Americans during the Civil War, not only through their efforts on the battlefield but also through their passion for music. Deeply researched, highly original, and consistently insightful, it is required reading for anyone interested in the domestic and transnational impact of America’s most enduring conflict.” ~Robert J. Cook, author of Civil War Memories: Contesting the Past in the United States since 1865
“The Irish experience was central to the Civil War’s popular culture and memory. How delightful, then, to have this engaging study of wartime songs by and about the Irish. Bateson’s probing analysis unlocks an amazing array of meanings and contexts for these songs, making this an essential work for anyone interested in the Civil War and the Irish American experience.” ~Christian McWhirter, author of Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War
“Bateson has assembled roughly 150 songs about the Irish experience during the Civil War . . . . [She] contends that scholars have mistakenly argued that military participation transformed Irish nationals into loyal Americans. In fact, she insists, these lyrics instead reveal that ‘the Irish had become American by the time the war started.’. . . Irish American Civil War Songs makes a valuable contribution to the literature, examining lyrics written by and about Irish Civil War soldiers.” ~Journal of Southern History