Whose blood was spilled December 13, 1862 on the battlefield in Fredericksburg, Virginia? During the American Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg was but one meeting ground of Irish immigrants from both the Union and Confederacy. Once fellow countrymen, these soldiers were forced to assume new perspectives on their identities amidst the chaos of war. The ability to consider themselves Irish immigrants vanished when they donned a blue or gray uniform. With the Battle of Fredericksburg as an example, where the predominantly Irish 24th Georgia regiment of the Confederate States of America (CSA) engaged the Irish Brigade of the Union Army in battle, ethnicity clashed with nationality.
Once the first shots were fired, these men were no longer Irish brethren; they became enemy combatants. The Irish soldiers, who defined themselves primarily through ethnicity, were instantly adopting a new national identity; therefore, the blood spilled on that tragic day was that of Confederates and Americans. The bodies that filled those blue and gray uniforms were no longer Irishmen as nationality prevailed over ethnicity.
Categories: United States History