Air Date: 101207
Subject: Irish-Americans in the Civil War
Books: The Harp and the Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861-1865
Guest: Susannah U. Bruce
Summary: Sam Houston State University professor and author, Susannah Bruce joins Gerry to discuss her current book, The Harp and The Eagle.
Brett’s Summary: Sam Houston State Professor Susannah U. Bruce was interviewed by Gerry in a fascinating hour on Irish-American participation in the Civil War.
Professor Bruce is a military historian, part of a somewhat dying breed in Academia. Bruce, however, seems to be a fighter judging by her interview with Gerry. She and I share quite a few of the same views regarding the continued importance of military history and her defense of the discipline was well-reasoned and persuasive. In fact, most of the first segment of the show focused on the current state of military history at the university level and efforts to continue to keep military history alive.
In the last two portions of the episode, Susannah and Gerry discussed Bruce’s book The Harp and the Eagle. She discovered a theme of dual loyalty to Ireland and the United States in her study of Irish Catholics during the war. The Irish were at first enthusiastic volunteers for the North, but as the war went on and war aims changed, Irish dissent grew, and the Irish were involved in events such as the 1863 New York City Draft Riots, made famous in the modern day by the movie Gangs of New York. Bruce enjoyed Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of a Know Nothing and his attitudes presented in the movie. The Fenian movement was discussed, as was the fact that many Irish immigrants weren’t necessarily as patriotic as some postwar efforts in that direction led people to believe. In fact, says Bruce, the idea of Irish-Americans as patriotic Union martyrs was only fostered after the war as a reaction by Irish-Americans to continued prejudice by the native American population.
At the end of the hour, Bruce spoke about her next project, a military and social history of Hood’s Texas Brigade during and after the Civil War. She believes the project will be complete within about two years.
Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.
In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.
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