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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

Spotlight

Sligo

The #ForgottenIrish of Co. Sligo

The latest #ForgottenIrish story looking at Co. Sligo is now available on ...
'Pity the Nation', Robert Fisk's award-winning book on the war in Lebanon

Robert Fisk on the Irish in the American Civil War

Since I started writing about the Irish in the American Civil War ...
Patrick Cleburne & The Battle of Franklin- American History TV

An Appearance on C-Span’s American History TV

I recently shared the full text of my Keynote Address which I ...
A woman enjoying her new sewing-machine, c. 1853 (Library of Congress)

Stuck for Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas? Some Suggestions & Advice From 150 Years Ago

Today is Christmas Eve, and for many of us that means a final dash to the shops as we seek out those last few gifts. If you are struggling for ideas, why not take some of the suggestions and advice offered to readers of the New York Irish-American, 150 years ago in December 1864. Remember, […]

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On Board an Emigrant Ship (Library of Congress)

‘Strange Soil Your Doom': Advice on How to Prepare for Emigration in 1863

In the Spring of 1863 the Reverend John Dwyer of Dublin penned a series of three letters to the New York Irish-American newspaper. Entitled ‘Hints to Irish Emigrants’, each was themed to provide advice for different stages of the emigrant’s journey from Ireland to America- what to do before you left, what to do while on the […]

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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 heightened fuel consumption saw many families struggle. Between 1861 and 1865 many had the added burden of worrying about a loved-one at the front. This […]

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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 was also a hot topic for Irish newspapers. Some, such as James Roche’s strongly pro-Union Galway-American (later printed in Dublin as the United Irishman and […]

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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 & Dependents Pension Files. This work has already identified large numbers of previously unpublished letters of Irish soldiers, which I intend to prepare for ultimate […]

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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 and Part 2 here), we join the young Irish officer of the 9th New York “Hawkins’ Zouaves” at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. These three letters span November 1861 to January 1862. In the first of them James talks of his many countrymen in the […]

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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’, came into Chicago from her ‘Irish Shanty’ on the open prairie outside the city. Possessing little other than ‘her scanty wardrobe’, she had come to meet her attorney. It was not her first visit. Earlier that year, she had dictated the story of […]

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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 quite like the letters that brought them news of a loved ones death. To read them is to at once imagine that first occasion when they were read. Though death may have occurred days, weeks or even months before, it was the act […]

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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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