The vast majority of Irish-born veterans of the American Civil War lived out the remainder of their lives in the United States. As we have previously explored on the site (see here and here) a small number of these men also returned home to Ireland. Incredibly, there were others who chose to travel even further afield. Some men chose to end their post-war days on the other side of the world, settling in Australia.
The Australia of today is home to a vibrant community of those interested in the American Civil War. They even have their own Round Tables (see here and here). Barry Crompton, a founding member of the American Civil War Round Table of Australia, has also written a fascinating work entitled ‘Ireland, Australia and the American Civil War’ which I highly recommend. In the book Crompton details the history of a number of Irish veterans (and possible veterans) and charts their fate in Australia. As I have relations in Perth, Western Australia, I took the opportunity to ‘persuade’ one of my family to go on an expedition to photograph some of these men’s graves.* (1)
A number of the men are buried in Karrakatta Cemetery, located seven kilometres west of Perth city centre. One of the possible veterans is John Joseph Davies, from Co. Galway. He was said to have served the Confederacy while his brother Netterville fought for the Union, although it has not as yet been possible to confirm that this was the case. Another of the men in Karrakatta is Michael Joseph Malone (or Maloney) from Co. Clare who reportedly served as a Private in Company F, 20th Connecticut Infantry. An Australian newspaper noted in 1926 that the well-traveled Irishman was then due to celebrate his 100th birthday(but note the research carried out by Terry Foenander and highlighted in the comments section below, which suggests this claim was incorrect). The stark contrast between the two men’s grave markers suggests that they may have enjoyed differing fortunes in their new home. (2)
Another who is said to have been a veteran is Edward Stanley from Belfast, thought to have served in the US Navy during the war under the assumed name of Frank Lawrence. Among his ships were the USS Santiago de Cuba, USS Monongahela, USS Nipsic, USS Franklin, USS James Adger and USS Princeton. A merchant navy man after the war, Edward was discharged in Melbourne, Victoria in 1876. He married and had two children, living until 1908 when he died at Cottesloe Beach, Claremont in Western Australia.
These Irishmen are but a small number of those who may have made the journey from Ireland to the United States and ultimately journeyed onwards to Australia. Their choice to try their luck in a third country is a fascinating one; many were surely driven by a sense of adventure, opportunity and perhaps the quest for gold. The rich research into Australia’s connections with the American Civil War have revealed this little-known Irish connection, yet another intriguing facet to the Irish experience of the American Civil War.
*I am grateful to Angela Gallagher of the Silver Voice Blog for braving the heat of Karrakatta to take photographs for this post.
**For valuable addition information on Irish veterans in Australia, including details that refute some of the above men’s claims, see Terry Foenander’s comments beneath this post.
(1) Crompton 2008; (2) Crompton 2008: 23, 30;
References & Further Reading
Crompton, Barry J. 2008. Ireland, Australia and the American Civil War