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E pluribus unum! Erin, go bragh!"". . . . There were 144,221 Irish-born Americans fighting for the Union during the Civil War, but the bravest by far was the Irish Brigade of Gen. Thomas ""Meagher of the Sword,"" an orator-hero of the abortive Irish Rising of 1848 who'd escaped from the prison colony of Tasmania to become a prominent New Yorker. Though some sympathized with ""home rule"" for the Southern states, the majority of Hibernians (and most of the militant Fenian Brotherhood), despite Democratic loyalties, threw in their lots with the North to defend the Republic which had sheltered them, the values which America represented to them, and also, be it not denied, to acquire professional military competence necessary for defeating the British back on the home sod or through an invasion of Canada. Initially Jones' account centers around Meagher, sketching his personal and revolutionary history, but after he resigns his command of the Brigade in May, 1863 on a matter of principle he retires from view, popping up only now and again, and for a last-page accounting. Though there's some background on the Irish-American community of that time, basically it's a Civil War story, with underlying themes the Americanization of the Brigade's officers and men and the erosion of native prejudices against Irish immigrants by their impressive display of bravery in battle and hospitality in camp. Of interest mainly to history buffs.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1969
Publisher: McKay