An unidentified Union Sailor (Library of Congress)

‘In the Midst of Sorrow': An Irish-American Sailor’s Fate, Christmas Eve, 1864

The Christmas period tended to be a tough one for working-class New Yorkers in the 1860s. The seasonality of many laboring jobs and an increased cost of living caused by ...

Parliament Street in Dublin, looking towards City Hall. This is where First Sergeant O'Driscoll's letter from Petersburg arrived to the newspaper offices in 1864 (Wikipedia)

Reporting the War in Irish Newspapers: Correspondence from the Petersburg Front

A constant stream of information about the American Civil War made its way to Ireland between 1861 and 1865. This came in forms such as family letters home, but it ...

The Stone Wall at the base of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, the target of the Irish Brigade Assault (Library of Congress)

‘In Account Of We Being Irish': A New Irish Brigade Letter After Fredericksburg

As some readers will be aware I am currently working on a long-term project identifying and transcribing the letters of Irish and Irish-American soldiers contained within the Civil War Widows ...

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Camp Wool, where James Fleming was writing from (Charles Johnson, The Long Roll)

The Civil War Letters of Captain James Fleming, Part 3: With Hawkins’ Zouaves at Hatteras Inlet

In the third instalment of letters from James Fleming of Antrim (Find Part 1 here ...
Illinois Prairie Grass, from which the Murphy Family made their livelihood (Robert Lawton)

‘Debilitated By Having Borne 13 Children': An Irish Emigrant Recounts Her Family Story, 1871

In May 1871 an elderly Monaghan woman, ‘infirm and broken in body’, ...
A woman in mourning clothes holding an image of a soldier (Library of Congress)

‘God Has Called Your Husband to the Other Shore': The Letters that turned Wives into Widows

Few historic documents intrude on the intimate emotional experiences of past people ...
Patrick Cleburne & The Battle of Franklin

‘Patrick Cleburne & The Battle of Franklin': The 2014 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event Keynote Address

On Friday 14th November last it was my great privilege to deliver the Keynote Address at the 2014 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event in The Factory, Franklin. The title of the paper was ‘Patrick Cleburne & The Battle of Franklin’ and it dealt with the life, death and legacy of the Cork native, together […]

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The Landscape of Inisheer, where John Donohoe grew up (Thomas Winter, Flickr Creative Commons)

Aran Islanders Abroad: An Inisheer Family and the American Civil War

If you had met John Donohoe in early 1861, it would have meant you were a visitor to one of the remotest locations in Europe. Thats because you would have been on Inisheer (Innis Oírr), a Gaelic speaking island off Ireland’s west coast. At only 2 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, it is the smallest of the Aran […]

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Officers on the deck of the U.S.S. Onondaga. The identity of the Irish correspondent, 'Garryowen', has not been established (National Archives)

Celebrating Thanksgiving Aboard Union Ironclads, James River, 1864

In November 1864 a number of Union Ironclads were to be found on the James River in Virginia, supporting Federal ground operations there. A large number of the men on board the vessels of the James River Flotilla were Irish; indeed they made up an estimated 20% of all Union sailors. How did they and […]

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Woollen Factories in Richmond, Virginia in 1865 (Library of Congress)

Little Donegal in Pennsylvania: Chain Emigration and Ireland’s Great Untapped 19th Century Historical Resource

The thousands of American Civil War pension files relating to Irishmen represent one of the greatest available resources for uncovering the social history of the 19th century emigrant experience. It is a resource that is almost completely unrecognised in Ireland, a scholarly neglect that is symptomatic of the lack of awareness of the scale of […]

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The Famine Memorial in Dublin. Those emigrants who departed have lost their individualism, their later stories subsumed into an image of the Irish diaspora (Image via wikipedia)

Ireland Takes First Steps Towards Remembering Irish of the American Civil War

In the past, I have been highly critical on this site of the Irish Government’s failure to recognise the huge number of Irish who participated in the American Civil War, and the impact the conflict had on Irish-America. Along with various others I have spent recent years trying to raise awareness at home of the […]

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Battle of Franklin 150

Address on Patrick Cleburne at Battle of Franklin 150th

I am extremely humbled and honoured to have been invited to participate in the 2014 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, which remembers the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin. I will be giving a keynote address on Friday 14th November discussing Irishman Major-General Patrick Cleburne, who lost his life at Franklin. As part […]

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Camp Dennison, where Catharine Kennedy made a desperate effort to keep her son at home in 1861 (Wikipedia)

Sole Support: An Offaly Mother’s Efforts to Keep Her Son, 1861

In August 1861, Orderly Sergeant John Kennedy of the 10th Ohio Infantry wrote a letter home to his mother from western Virginia. Although now a soldier, the 22-year-old from Dunkerrin, Co. Offaly* had been in the army for barely three months. Just weeks before had been learning the tobacconist trade, which he plied in Cincinnati’s 13th Ward. Now, that […]

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The Battle of Cedar Creek

Remembering the Reilly’s at Cedar Creek- And How Ireland Forgets

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek. That battle witnessed many terrible scenes, but there were surely few to match that experienced by Irish emigrant Charles Reilly, who went into the fight shoulder to shoulder with his young son. To remember their story I wrote a column which appeared today on […]

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Civil War Veterans on their way to meet President Hoover in 1931 (Library of Congress)

Michael Casey: The Dublin Emigrant & Civil War Veteran Who Met President Roosevelt

Previous posts on the site have looked at Irish veterans of the American Civil War in the 20th century (see for example here and here). As their numbers dwindled, many newspapers ran stories about local old soldiers, who were transformed into cherished heroes with the passage of time. Many of these articles are factually flawed, but […]

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Underground lodgings for the poor of New York around 1869. Many people who ultimately ended up in Poor Houses would have been familiar with such scenes (Library of Congress)

Dependents: Portraits of 50 Irish People in New York Poorhouses, 1861-1865

On 4th August 1865, an Irish emigrant woman from Cork City gave birth to a baby girl in New York. The child -Mary- had been dealt a tough start to life. Her mother was a pauper, and Mary had entered the world in Richmond County Poor House. Mary’s brother and sister were also paupers, and […]

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