Article by Irish scholar, Damian Sheils.
In 1863, Ireland was on the brink of famine. Poor harvests for three consecutive years had left many destitute, and disaster loomed. In response to the threat, relief committees that had previously been established to channel funds to assist the worst afflicted areas were reactivated. The large Irish population in the United States, many of whom were Famine victims themselves, were not to be found wanting in coming to the assistance of those at home. The cause was championed by the leaders of Irish-American communities, and soon Irish Relief Funds emerged across the war-stricken North.
Irish soldiers were also quick to put their hands in their pockets to help out those less fortunate. Irishmen in the British army of India collected rupees for the appeal, while those soldiers stationed in Shanghai, China sent on £108 sterling. The Irishmen in Union blue were no different to their red-coated brethren. Even…
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