Over 150,000 Irishmen fought in the American Civil War (1861-1865), accounting for one in sixteen of the combatants.
The famous phrase "War is Hell" is attributed to the Cavan-born American Civil War General Phil Sheridan.
One of the oddest military escapades in history took place in 1866 when Irish Fenians, veterans of the U.S. Civil War, invaded Canada with the intention of holding the entire country (all four million square miles of it) hostage to exchange for the freedom of Ireland.
The Irish Brigade never lost a flag in battle. One motto of the Brigade is "47 times to the line of battle and never a flag to lose". Losing the unit flag was a major disgrace in that era
At Fredricksburg, the heroic charge of the Irish Brigade so impressed Confederate General George Pickett that he wrote home, "Why, my darling, we forgot they were fighting us, and cheer after cheer at their fearlessness went up all along our lines."
The idea of an Irish Brigade was not a new one. Irish units fought under many foreign flags, including that of Spain and Mexico.
From Coming Home:
"Tell me about the battle."
A cold shudder shot through him, and all of a sudden he was back on that battlefield, guns pounding, horses and men screaming, his friends and comrades falling all around him. But what had really terrified him was knowing that somewhere on that battlefield, his little brother was alone and unprotected...
..."The battle was total confusion." He squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated on Ashleen's nearness in an effort to tell the story without breaking down. "It was hot -- so hot -- and humid, though it was already September." He paused, the poignant memory knifing through him. "At home, the leaves would have started to turn, and frost would have been dusting the fields."
And the stench of death had been in the air. So different from the smells of crisp northern breezes and freshly baled hay he'd been used to.
"We came up to the top of the ridge. We were to pause at the crest of the hill and fire two volleys, then rush the Rebs with bayonets. They were waiting for us - troops from North Carolina. There was a huge sound, like a thunderclap. Gunfire. Lots of it."