Irish-Born Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients: The Complete List?

One of the main resources added to this site at an early stage was the list of Irish-born Medal of Honor recipients. Drawn from a number of different sources, I have found occasion to add the names of additional men over time, as it became apparent that they were in all probability of Irish birth. The list currently stands at 143 individuals, and to my knowledge is the most comprehensive listing of Irish-born Civil War Medal of Honor recipients currently available. 

The men that have been added to the initial list are those that do not at first appear Irish on the basis of their Medal of Honor records. These are men like Michael Ahern, from Queenstown, Co. Cork, who enlisted illegally aboard the USS Kearsarge prior to his act of gallantry in battle against the CSS Alabama. He is generally erroneously referred to as ‘Michael Aheam’ on Medal of Honor listings, with no place of birth recorded. Similarly, Nicholas Fox of the 28th Connecticut, who was awarded his medal for actions at Port Hudson, and for whom nativity is often not attributed, was from Co. Cork. (1)

Hugh Molloy, two time Irish-born Medal of Honor recipient (Deeds of Valor)

Hugh Molloy, Irish-born Medal of Honor recipient (Deeds of Valor)

The majority of additions resulted from men who were listed as born in the United States but appear to have in fact been born in Ireland; recent research has shown that Martin McHugh, awarded the Medal of Honor for actions aboard the USS Cincinnati at Vicksburg, was born in Ireland and not Ohio as is most often cited. The majority of these cases seem to result from confusing the place of enlistment with the place of birth. John Lafferty (or Laverty) was one of the few men to be awarded the medal twice, once aboard the USS Wyalusing in the Roanoke River, North Carolina, and once aboard the USS Alaska while on service in Peru. His first citation lists his birth as New York, but the second citation shows that he was in fact from Co. Tyrone. Another two-time recipient, Patrick Mullen of the USS Wyandank and USS Don, is listed as having been born in Baltimore, Maryland for his first award, but is shown as being of Irish birth on his second. (2)

It is thanks to these and a number of other additions that the total number of known Irish birth currently stands at 143- although it seems probable there may well be more men to be added to this list. Some 1,527 Medal of Honor awards were made for service in the Civil War, so based on these figures Irish-born recipients account for almost 10% of the total. Interestingly 50 of the Irish-born recipients were sailors, highlighting an aspect of Irish service in the American Civil War that remains seriously understudied. It is also apparent the majority of awards went to Irish-born men who served in non-Irish units, as fewer than 20 recipients served in what might be termed ‘green-flag’ ethnic Irish regiments.

A number of these mens stories have already been explored on Irish in the American Civil War, and more will follow. I am also embarking on a more detailed study of the Irish-born recipients of the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War; if any readers have information on any of the specific men on the list, or suggestions as to additions or corrections, I would be very eager to hear from you.

Name Unit Action
Allen, James 16th NY Inf. South Mountain, Md.
Ahern, Michael Kearsarge Cherbourg, France
Anderson, Robert Keokuk Charleston, S.C.
Barry, Augustus 16th US Inf. Various
Bass, David L. Minnesota Fort Fisher, N.C.
Begley, Terrence 7th NY Hvy Arty. Cold Harbor, Va.
Blackwood, William 48th PA. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Bradley, Charles Louisville Various
Brannigan, Felix 74th NY Inf. Chancellorsville, Va.
Brennan, Christopher Mississippi Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
Brosnan, John 164th NY Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Brown Jr., Edward 62nd NY Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Burk, Michael E. 125th NY Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Burke, Thomas 5th NY Cav. Hanover Courthouse, Va.
Byrnes, James Louisville Various
Campbell, William 30th OH Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Carey, Hugh 82nd NY Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Casey, David 25th MA. Inf. Cold Harbor, Va.
Cassidy, Michael Lackawanna Mobile Bay, Al.
Colbert, Patrick Commodore Hull Plymouth, N.C.
Collis, Charles H.T. 114th PA. Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Connor, Thomas Minnesota Fort Fisher, N.C.
Connors, James 43rd NY Inf. Fisher’s Hill, Va.
Cooper, John Brooklyn Mobile Bay, Al.
Cooper, John Brooklyn Mobile Bay, Al.
Corcoran, Thomas E. Cincinnati Vicksburg, Miss.
Cosgrove, Thomas 40th MA. Inf. Drury’s Bluff, Va.
Creed, John 23rd IL. Inf. Fisher’s Hill, Va.
Cullen, Thomas 82nd NY Inf. Bristoe Station, Va.
Curran, Richard 33rd NY Inf. Antietam, Md.
Delaney, John C. 107th PA. Inf. Dabny’s Mills, Va.
Donoghue, Timothy 69th NY Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Doody, Patrick 164th NY Inf. Cold Harbor, Va.
Doolen, William Richmond Mobile Bay, Al.
Dougherty, Michael 13th PA. Cav. Jefferson, Va.
Dougherty, Patrick Lackawanna Mobile Bay, Al.
Downey, William 4th MA. Cav. Ashepoo River, S.C.
Drury, James 4th VT. Inf. Weldon Railroad, Va.
Dunphy, Richard D. Hartford Mobile Bay, Al.
English, Edmund 2nd NJ Inf. Wilderness, Va.
Fallon, Thomas T. 37th NY Inf. Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Va.
Flood, Thomas Pensacola Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
Flynn, Christopher 14th CT. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Ford, George W. 88th NY Inf. Sailors Creek, Va.
Fox, Nicholas 28th CT. Inf. Port Hudson, La.
Gardner, William Galena Mobile Bay, Al.
Gasson, Richard 47th NY Inf. Chapins Farm, Va.
Ginley, Patrick 1st NY Light Arty. Reams Station, Va.
Gribben, James H. 2nd NY Cav. Sailors Creek, Va.
Haley, James Kearsarge Cherbourg, France
Harrington, Daniel Pocahontas -
Havron, John H. 1st RI. Light Arty. Petersburg, Va.
Highland, Patrick 23rd IL. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Hinnecan, William Agawam Fort Fisher, N.C.
Horne, Samuel B. 11th CT. Inf. Fort Harrison, Va.
Howard, Martin Tacony Plymouth, N.C.
Hudson, Michael Brooklyn Mobile Bay, Al.
Hyland, John Signal Red River, La.
Irwin, Patrick 14th MI. Inf. Jonesboro, Ga.
Jones, Andrew Chickasaw Mobile Bay, Al.
Jones, William 73rd NY Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Kane, John 100th NY Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Keele, Joseph 182nd NY Inf. North Anna River, Va.
Kelley, John Ceres Hamilton, N.C.
Kelly, Thomas 6th NY Cav. Front Royal, Va.
Kennedy, John 2nd US Arty. Trevilian Station, Va.
Keough, John 67th PA. Inf. Sailors Creek, Va.
Kerr, Thomas R. 14th PA. Cav. Moorefield, W.Va.
Lafferty, John Wyalusing Roanoke River, N.C.
Laffey, Bartlett Marmora Yazoo City, Miss.
Logan, Hugh Rhode Island Mobile Bay, Al.
Lonergan, John 13th VT. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Mangam, Richard C. 148th NY Inf. Hatchers Run, Va.
Martin, Edward S. Galena Mobile Bay, Al.
Martin, James Richmond Mobile Bay, Al.
Martin, William Varuna Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
McAdams, Peter 98th PA. Inf. Salem Heights, Va.
McAnally, Charles 69th PA. Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
McCarren, Bernard 1st DE. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
McCormick, Michael Signal Red River, La.
McEnroe, Patrick H. 6th NY Cav. Winchester, Va.
McGough, Owen 5th US Arty. Bull Run, Va.
McGowan, John Varuna Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
McGraw, Thomas 23rd IL Inf. Petersburg, Va.
McGuire, Patrick IL Light Arty. Vicksburg, Miss.
McHale, Alexander U. 26th MI Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
McHugh, Martin Cincinnati Vicksburg, Miss.
McKee, George 89th NY Inf. Petersburg, Va.
McKeever, Michael 5th PA. Cav. Burnt Ordinary, Va.
Molloy, Hugh Fort Hindman Harrisonburg, La.
Monaghan, Patrick 48th PA. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Montgomery, Robert Agawam Fort Fisher, N.C.
Moore, Charles Marblehead Legareville, S.C.
Morrison, John G. Carondelet Yazoo River, Miss.
Morton Charles W. Benton Yazoo River, Miss.
Mulholland, St. Clair A. 116th PA. Inf. Chancellorsville, Va.
Mullen, Patrick Wyandanak Mattox Creek, Virginia
Murphy, Dennis J.F. 14th WI. Inf. Corinth, Miss.
Murphy, John P. 5th OH. Inf. Antietam, Md.
Murphy, Michael C. 170th NY Inf. North Anna River, Va.
Murphy, Patrick Metacomet Mobile Bay, Al.
Murphy, Thomas C. 31st IL. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Murphy, Thomas J. 146th NY Inf. Five Forks, Va.
Nolan, John J. 8th NH Inf. Georgia Landing, La.
Nugent, Christopher Fort Henry Crystal River, Fl.
O’Beirne, James R. 37th NY Inf. Fair Oaks, Va.
O’Brien, Peter 1st NY Cav. Waynesboro, Va.
O’Connell, Thomas Hartford Mobile Bay, Al.
O’Connor, Timothy 1st US Cav. -
O’Dea, John 8th MO. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
O’Donnell, Menomen 11th MO. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Platt, George C. 6th US Cav. Fairfield, Pa.
Plunkett, Thomas 21st MA. Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Preston, John Onieda Mobile Bay, Al.
Quinlan, James 88th NY Inf. Savage Station, Va.
Rafferty, Peter 69th NY Inf. Malvern Hill, Va.
Rannahan, John Minnesota Fort Fisher, N.C.
Reynolds, George 9th NY Inf. Winchester, Va.
Riley, Thomas 1st LA. Cav. Fort Blakely, Al.
Roantree, James S. Onieda Mobile Bay, Al.
Robinson, John H. 19th MA. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Robinson, Thomas 81st PA. Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Ryan, Peter J. 11th IN. Inf. Winchester, Va.
Scanlan, Patrick 4th MA. Cav. Ashepoo River, S.C.
Schutt, George Hendrick Hudson St. Marks, Fl.
Sewell, William J. 5th NJ Inf. Chancellorsville, Va.
Shields, Bernard 2nd WV Cav. Appomattox, Va.
Smith, William Kearsarge Cherbourg, France
Spillane, Timothy 16th PA. Cav. Hatchers Run, Va.
Stewart, Joseph 1st MD. Inf. Five Forks, Va.
Sullivan, Timothy Louisville Various
Tobin, John M. 9th MA. Inf. Malvern Hill, Va.
Toomer, William 127th IL. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Tyrrell, George William 5th OH. Inf. Resaca, Ga.
Urell, M. Emmett 82nd NY Inf. Bristoe Station, Va.
Walsh, John 5th NY Cav. Cedar Creek, Va.
Welch, Richard 37th MA. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Wells, Thomas M. 6th NY Cav. Cedar Creek, Va.
Welsh, Edward 54th OH. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Welsh, James 4th RI Inf. Petersburg, Va.
White, Patrick H. IL Light Arty. Vicksburg, Miss.
Williams, William Lehigh Charleston, S.C.
Wilson, Christopher W. 73rd NY Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Wright, Robert 14th US Inf. Chapel House Farm, Va.

*Names in italics represent naval vessels

*With thanks to John Fay for information regarding Martin McHugh and Brendan Hamilton for information on Nicholas Fox

(1) Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Broadwater 2007: 7, Marvel 1996: 204-5, Medal of Honor Winner Highlights Town’s Civil War Role; (2) Medal of Honor Recipient Found in Unmarked Grave, Owens 2004: 40, Deeds of Valor;

References & Further Reading

Beyer, Walter F. & Keydel, Oscar F. 1901. Deeds of Valor

Broadwater, Robert P. 2007. Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients

CommercialNews.Com 5th November 2011: Medal of Honor Recipient Found in Unmarked Grave

Congressional Medal of Honor Society

GreenwichTime.Com 12th April 2011: Medal of Honor Winner Highlights Town’s Civil War Role

Marvel, William 1996. The Alabama and the Kearsarge: The Sailor’s Civil War

Owens, Ron 2004. Medal of Honor: Historical Facts and Figures

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Categories: Medal of Honor, Research

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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4 Comments on “Irish-Born Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients: The Complete List?”

  1. January 27, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Lt. John.J. Nolan was an ardent Fenian. He was sent over with O’Mahony’s first group of Irish-Americans. I have read that he was present at the Chester Castle Fiasco but left no written account of what happened. Ricard O’Sullivan Burke blamed McCafferty for its failure.Nolan is buried in St. Raymond’s cemetery in NYC. This cemetery is famous as the place where Bruno Hauptman tried to get exchange money for kidnapping the Lindberg baby.

  2. January 27, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Captain Charles McAnally is an unbelieveable soldier. He was wounded four times, including a saber blow to the head at Gettysburg. His burial spot has never been found. Post war he spent much time in Texas.

  3. February 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Within the last ten years Sergeant Martin Conboy, 37th NY, was discovered to have been born in Ireland. This was covered in the Irish American magazine. Some of his U.S. military records had assigned him to New York—not true!

    • February 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for that- I just discovered that a couple of days ago! Another one to be added, I suspect there are more!

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

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