March 17, 1861: The Irish for each side

James T. Brady
James T. Brady

Irish-Americans fought on both sides of the Civil War, and the last peacetime St. Patrick’s Day before it presaged that fact.

From the New York Times, this account of a St. Patrick’s Day dinner a the Astor House, by a reporter who had, it seems, accidentally swallowed a thesaurus during the meal:

So far as deglutition and degurgitation can honor St. Patrick, the “Friendly Sons” of that eminently jolly saint accomplished the object last evening, assisted by the deservedly celebrated cuisine of that hotel named after one of our millionares, and conducted in part by the newly-appointed United States Dispatch Agent — yclept the Astor.

No less than one hundred and seventy-five guests sat down and enjoyed the repast, which was replete with every desirable delicacy for the titillation of the palate. Unrestricted by muliebrity, the gentlemen present did ample justice to a dinner which would have delighted SOYER himself. Nor were the senses neglected, for, while the ear was pleased with appropriate music, the eye was delighted with ornamental confectionery pieces appropriate to the occasion, among which were “Saint Patrick,” a “Statue of the Union,” “Cathedral;” “Pyramid,” “Harp of Erin,” and other national emblems, among which a candy statue of St. Patrick was prominent.

At twenty minutes to nine, the “poteen” having duly circulated, and the cloths being removed, the meeting was called to order by the President, Judge DALE, who congratulated the Society upon its seventy-seventh anniversary. … In conclusion he gave the first regular toast.
“St. Patrick’s Day and all who honor it.”

The next toast was —
“The United States — the land we live in.”

Which was received with all the honors, and “Hall Columbia,” by the band.

JAMES T. BRADY, Esq., was called upon to respond, and, after the storm of applause and cheers, and three cheers for the “Governor de jure of the State,” and then more cheers had subsided, said he had no idea that he would be thus received. He was sorry to see that he had been mistaken for a Governor, for unfortunately when he was presented for the suffrages of his countrymen he was not thus honored. [Laughter.] … He was called to speak of the United States, but the whole world should be present at the fitting eulogy of that great Republic, which belonged to mankind — which was for all generations alike. [Applause.] He denied the right of any set of Americans to destroy a home which, under God’s providence, belonged to all mankind. [Great applause.] …

He believed there would come a time when genius and talent, and power and patrotism would again take the helm, and we should again be united, and that at the next Presidential contest, thirty-four States would take part. [Applause.] He said it was love for South Carolinians, who had the same warm, rich, rush blood that allowed in his own veins. [Applause.] The love of our Republic was an undying principle in the true American heart. [Applause] Out of there were to be two Confederacies, he should still cling to that old name, and hope for the continuation of that Union which WASHINGTON founded, and which ought to be combined as long as his name should live. [Great applause.]

The President called attention to the fact that twenty years ago the sentiment of JACKSON, “The Union must and shall be preserved,” was received with a shout of approbation from Irish throats at the old City Hotel.

Nine cheers were given for the United States, then one more to make sure of the count, and then three for JAMES T. BRADY.

On the other hand, the Daily Constitutionalist of Augusta, GA, reported on a St. Patrick’s Day celebration under a completely different flag:

St. Patrick’s Day—The Celebration.

. . . After the close of this part of the programme, Augusta Fire Company, No. 5, received a handsome flag—the presentation of which being made by Col. Locklane, and the response by President Geo. T. Barnes, of No. 5.  Both speeches were neat and appropriate to the occasion.  The flag is the design, we understand, of our young townsman, Mr. Sharpe; and on one side has the coat of arms of Georgia , with seven stars, and on the other a “sun burst,” a harp of Erin , and seven stars.  It is very neat, and in worthy hands.  “Long may it wave” over the engine house of patriotic No. 5!  

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2 Responses to March 17, 1861: The Irish for each side

  1. William S. Shepard says:

    I was rather surprised, in browsing through the individuals noted on this excellent site, to find no mention of Maryland’s Governor Thomas Hicks. Still, that needn’t have been so surprising. This critical figure, whose efforts were vital to keeping Maryland in the Union, is little known. My eBook cited above treats his policy, against the background of the Pratt Street Riots of April 19, 1861, and the Virginia secessionist convention, with the attention it deserves. Hope you will find it interesting.

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