Irish emigrants sending money back to Ireland from the Emigrants Savings Bank in 1880 (Library of Congress)

‘As Good A Chance to Escape As Any Other': A Cork Soldier’s Aid to His Family in Ireland, 1864

Occasionally, I am asked why any Irish impacted by the American Civil War should be remembered in Ireland. After all, the argument goes, these people left our shores, and they ...

Lieutenant-Colonel James J. Smith and officers of the 69th New York, an image exposed just a few weeks after the Battle of Skinner's Farm (Library of Congress)

‘I Trust the Almighty Will Spare Me My Life': Charles Traynor & the Battle of Skinner’s Farm, 25th March 1865

In March 1865, Charles Traynor wrote home to his mother Catharine in New York. A veteran of some of the most famed Irish Brigade actions of the war, he was ...

Mining coal three miles underground in Pennsylvania, c. 1895 (Library of Congress)

Coal Mining, Draft Rioting & The Molly Maguires: From Laois to Schuylkill with the Delaney Family

The Widow’s Pension Files often offer us the opportunity to explore the wider Irish emigrant experience through the lense of a single family. Such is the case with Private Thomas ...

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Antietam Battlefield. The Confederates held the Sunken Lane to the left of the image, with the Irish Brigade advancing from right to left across the field. It was in the vicinity of this field that John Conway died (Damian Shiels)

Speaking Ill Of The Dead: Eulogies & Enmity For An Irish Brigade Soldier

On 18th October 1862 the New York Irish-American published an article on ...
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny with President Barack Obama in The White House (Wikipedia)

Selling ‘Ireland’ and Forgetting the ‘Irish’? Some Thoughts on the Taoiseach’s St. Patrick’s Day Speech

This week Ireland’s Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, visited America for St. Patrick’s Day. ...
Fairfax Seminary Hospital, Virginia (Library of Congress)

‘Quite A Merry Time:’ A Union Irish Soldier Describes His Last St. Patrick’s Day, 1863

On 17th March 1863 David O’Keefe, a cabinet-maker from Co. Cork, celebrated ...
A hospital ward in a convalescent camp near Alexandria (Library of Congress)

‘I Am Not Long For This World': An Irish-American Soldier Says Goodbye to His Family

The last post on the site examined a mother’s desperate attempts to contact her wounded son. Equally poignant are those letters, occasionally included in the files, which impart a soldier’s final words to his family from his deathbed. On 23rd February 1864, George Carl of the 7th Ohio Infantry sat by the bed of William […]

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An image exposed by Irish photographer Timothy O'Sullivan of Union troops entrenched on the northern side of the North Anna on 25th May 1864. The day before John Heron had been shot on the south side of the river (Library of Congress)

‘For God Sake Dear Son Write To Me': An Irish Mother’s Desperate Plea in the Summer of 1864

I have come across hundreds of letters written by Irish people during the American Civil War in the Widows and Dependents Pension Files. In reading each one, I always do so in the awareness that the story ultimately did not have a happy ending- in every case the soldier died as a result of his […]

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The USS Monitor and CSS Virginia do battle the day after James Leahy's death (Library of Congress)

Hearing the Irish Accent of a Merrimac Victim Across 150 Years

On 8th March 1862, the Confederate Ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) steamed out of Norfolk, Virginia to attack the Federal fleet in Hampton Roads. The resulting two-day encounter remains one of the most famous naval engagements in history. One Yankee sailor would later recall how an awful silence descended over the men of the […]

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Boatswain's Mate Patrick Murphy (Erie Maritime Museum)

Medal of Honor: Boatswain’s Mate Patrick Murphy, U.S.S. Metacomet

It has been a while since the site has looked at one of the Irish-born Medal of Honor recipients from the American Civil War. Issues regarding recording of nativity means there is, as yet, no definitive total number for Irish-born men who earned this award during the conflict. Each time I investigate the figure evidence […]

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Corporal William Kelleher displays his wound (National Museum of Health & Medicine)

‘One of Our Brave Men Twice Wounded': An Image of Corporal William Kelleher, 125th New York Infantry

In the first of a couple of guest posts coming up on the blog, friend of the site Brendan Hamilton brings us the story behind a fascinating image of a young wounded Irishman. Brendan has spent a lot of time looking at images of wounded Irish soldiers and also researching the 25th New York Infantry. […]

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dublin1

The #ForgottenIrish of Co. Dublin

The latest #ForgottenIrish story looking at Co. Dublin is now available on Storify. Tens of thousands of Dubliners were impacted by the American Civil War, both in Ireland and America. Its consequences stayed with many until well into the twentieth century. This is the seventh county to be examined, joining  Cork, Kerry, Donegal, Galway, Cavan and Sligo. Ireland has thus […]

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Alfred Waud's sketch of powder for the mine being carried down the covered way while under fire (Library of Congress)

‘He Was Never Seen or Heard From After': Dealing with Disappearance at the Battle of the Crater

In July 1865 the State Census came to the town of Westfield, Massachusetts. One of the community recorded there was Abby Sullivan, who was described as a 42 year-old Irish woman. Abby was also recorded as married, but in July 1865 she must have felt in limbo. For she was a wife without a husband; […]

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The Battle of Fair Oaks by Currier & Ives (Library of Congress)

‘A Deep Blow to Your Heart': Patrick Clooney’s Newly Uncovered Description of the Irish Brigade at Fair Oaks

On 16th September 1862, 33-year-old Ann Dunnigan appeared before an Albany judge to begin the process of claiming a widow’s pension. Her husband Patrick had been mortally wounded in the Irish Brigade’s first major engagement- the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia- on 1st June 1862. As part of her evidence, Ann handed over a detailed […]

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The 1862 'Tiffany' Color of the 69th New York, Presented by President Kennedy to the Irish People in 1963

How Many Irish Fought in the American Civil War?

As I have often noted on this site, the American Civil War is the only conflict in the Irish experience which compares with World War One in terms of scale. But just how many Irish served during the conflict? Relatively little detailed modern research has taken place to establish this, and it is undoubtedly a […]

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A Sketch of Con Garvin and his Mother Catharine Garvin in the Troy Record of 1965, sketched by artist Robert W. Daley (www.newspapers.com)

In Search of Con: The Remarkable Story of the Hunt for the ‘Idiot’ Boy Sold into Service

In late 1863, details of a sensational case began to emerge throughout the newspapers of the Union. It was a story that would be told and retold for decades to come, and was ever after remembered by all who had come into contact with the particulars. At its centre was an intellectually disabled ‘idiot’ boy […]

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