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Chicago's Irish Legion: The 90th Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War Hardcover – March 18, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st Edition edition (March 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809328909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809328901
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,889,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“With Chicago’s Irish Legion James B. Swan is offering more than just another history of an Irish regiment in the Union Army—this is an overlooked unit whose story provides great insights into the motivations and experiences of Civil War soldiers.”

 —Susannah Ural Bruce, author of The Harp and the Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861–1865

 



“Through meticulous scholarship and rare personal letters, photos, and documents, James B. Swan brings to life one of the Civil War’s little-known Irish Legions. Swan’s roster of the 90th Illinois and his annotated notes make Chicago’s Irish Legion an invaluable resource.”—Ellen Skerrett, editor of At the Crossroads: Old Saint Patrick’s and the Chicago Irish


“Not as famous as some other units, the Irish Legion saw hard action at Missionary Ridge and the Atlanta Campaign, and marched with General William T. Sherman to the sea and the Carolinas.  James B. Swan clearly and crisply recounts their memorable story, giving readers a fresh look at the Civil War in the west, and at the immigrant soldier experience.”

—Lesley J. Gordon, author of General George E. Pickett in Life and Legend

About the Author

James B. Swan is an independent historian and retired professor of agronomy at Iowa State University.


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By General Phil Sheridan on March 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Swan has written an excellent regimental history of the 90th Illinois. Combining his academic background with his personal connection to the regiment through his family, Dr. Swan has done excellent research, digging out old collections of letters, together with trips to Ireland and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Key to the 90th is Colonel Tim O'Meara, a hero of the battle of Balls Bluff, Va. in October 1861 while serving with the 42nd NY Tammany Jackson Guards. Dr. Swan unravels the politics that led O'Meara to gain command of the 90th through the help of General Michael Corcoran. Mr.Swan also has included several striking several photo-portraits of members of the regiment, including Colonel O'Meara decked out in his Hardee hat.These have probably never seen light before this book. There is also a complete roster and a superb description of the 90th's action at Missionary Ridge. Highly recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jonaona on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very refreshing book. It is a great read. The Civil War has become so popularized in modern literature that hard research is becoming harder to find. In this milieu, James Swan's book sets exactly the right tone. It is entertaining enough to keep the attention of a broad readership but is also filled with a great deal of original research that will engage the dedicated student of Civil War history. From all appearances, many years of work with new and original documents went into this manuscript. The text is very carefully put together. But there is also a lightness in the recounting of how normal human foibles affected the day-to-day functioning of this unusual group of soldiers.

There may be several "unexpected" audiences for this book, apart from those with a keen interest in the Civil War. There are important parts of the history of Chicago here. And of course anyone of Irish descent or otherwise interested in how the immigrant Irish acclimated to the dominant US culture should find this book quite interesting. The formation of the 90th Illinois regiment was very much a search for acceptance by impoverished refugees in a new land. But it was an acceptance that carried a very high price. More than 60% of the regiment did not come home, or at least did not come home in the ordinary course of things. What exactly is a deserter is often a highly debatable characterization.

And then there is a fascinating portrayal in the book of the role of the local Catholic Church in gathering men to send off to battle. This is an aspect of the church in America that is seldom explored. Its theological implications hark back to much earlier times in distant lands.

James Swan nicely brings all of these divergent themes together. The reader is inevitably required to think about a lot of things that are not obvious in a book that seems to be about a single Civil War regiment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Luker on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just finished reading Chicago's Irish Legion. Dr. Swan's description of the 90th in the Washington Grand Review brought tears to my eyes. That would have been a sight to see!

I didn't understand how the 90th's Quartermaster Sheridan, following capture by the Confederates, would be held at St. Louis pending his exchange, as that city was controlled by the North. A bit of research indicated such "gentlemen's agreements" for exchanges occurred during the early part of the war.

Dr. Swan's mention of 90th troops needing to delouse themselves brought to mind another book, The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier by Jakob Walter.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James B. Swan, CHICAGO'S IRISH LEGION, is a very well written account of this unique regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War. Swan gives an account of the action of this regiment as the Federal Army battles at Missionary Ridge and on through the Atlanta Campaign.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is my favorite book now. It describes in detail what my blood relative went thru while serving in the 90th. He was a 1st LT and Dr. Swan describes a battle my relative fought in. I love the detail in this book , like describing how the regiment was treated by the local Plantation owners famalies while they were stationed near Holly Springs/ Coldwater Station and how the regiment was formed. Nice pictures of my relatives Commanding officer. I'm very fortunate to be able to buy a book that decsribes what life was like for my relative. Priceless !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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