Cleveland Irish During The Civil War
The Irish always have had quirks in their collective character. The local variety was to prove it beyond question in 1863, when a goodly number of them marched off to war and an equal number closed the port of Cleveland by staging a massive strike, a most unpatriotic action, to say the least. No amount of persuasion by the city fathers could bring the Irish to halt their strike that was supposedly denying their brothers the means to do decent battle with Johnny Reb.
The Irish, who were in on the founding of almost every labor union in this area, had picked a most propitious moment to stage such a strike. There were higher wages to be gained and the shippers could well afford them, seeing as how Cleveland was then "The Queen of the Lower Lakes," the busiest port of any. The shippers thought otherwise and hired scabs from far and wide to replace them. While it seemed a sensible move, it never came off, because the Battle of Cleveland ensued and it took the entire police force of the city to quell the disturbance. The Irish stevedores had much the best of it, according to eyewitness reports, as they had a solid defensive position and "better throwing accuracy." The age-old axiom of baseball held true -- good pitching will always beat good hitting.
Besides, the Irish manning those barricades on the Cuyahoga were in no mood to apologize for their community's efforts on behalf of the Union cause and the same was true of Irishmen in every city, North and South, in the country. What's more, .....(continued next page)