Making America: The Irish in the Civil War Era: April 12, 2018 – October, 2018
In the mid-19th century, many Irish immigrants had fled an Ireland ravaged by the Great Hunger, hoping to find a better future in the US, but such hopes were dashed when war erupted in 1861. With the Civil War, Irish survivors of the Great Famine had to endure the second great trauma of their lives. Having survived the worst demographic catastrophe of 19th-century Europe, they fell on the battlefields of Virginia or Tennessee.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, America was home to approximately 1.6 million people of Irish birth, most refugees from the Famine. At least 150,000 Irishmen served in the Union forces, and 20,000 with the Confederates. More Civil War generals came out of Ireland than any other foreign country. Making America: The Irish in the Civil War Era will highlight the significant role that the Irish played in America’s struggle to define itself as a nation.
To accompany the Making America: The Irish in the Civil War Era exhibition, the museum will also feature the work of artist John Mulvany. Born in County Meath, Ireland, Mulvany came to New York in 1851, in the midst of Ireland’s Great Hunger. Mulvany worked as a sketch artist during the Civil War, and was praised for the realism in his pieces. He would go on to become a prolific artist of the American West, including his 1876 award winning painting Preliminary Trial of a Horsethief, which will be on exhibit at the museum.
This exhibition is funded in part by generous support from TD Bank, Connecticut Humanities, and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.