‘Any Information Will Be Most Thankfully Received by His Mother': Tracing Missing Irishmen in 1860s New York

Every week in the New York Irish-American a series of advertisements were run under the heading ‘Information Wanted.’ For $1 you could place a few carefully chosen lines in three issues of the paper, in the hope of finding a loved one. I find these ads some of the most emotive and powerful records of the impact of conflict. In an age before mass media and the internet, many friends and families searched fruitlessly for years in an effort to restore contact with cousins, sons and brothers. Some were successful; others received the bad news they had been dreading. Having previously explored this topic with the tragic story of Alexander Scarff and others, I wanted to take another look at this unique record of the impact of war on the Irish diaspora. 

INFORMATION WANTED Of Patrick Bush, a native of Bennett’s Bridge, County Kilkenny, Ireland. When last heard from, two years ago, he was in Southwick, State of Massachusetts. There was an account of a man of the same name in the Irish-American of June 22, 1861, being killed at Bull’s Run, who belonged to a regiment of the New York State Militia, Co. E. If Lieut. Dempsey, of the 2d, knows anything about him he will confer a great favor by writing to Jeremiah Bush, Sommers Post-Office, Tolland County, State of Connecticut. (New York Irish-American, 7th June 1862)

It is unclear if Jeremiah ever established if this was his brother, but the balance of evidence suggests it was. Patrick Bush had enlisted in the 2nd New York State Militia on 20th May 1861 at the age of 25; two months later he was dead. He was killed in action on 21st July 1861 in the first major battle of the war. Clinton Berry of the 2nd N.Y.S.M. remembered Patrick being ‘struck by a shot from the enemy and afterwards I saw the body…lying dead upon the roadside.’ Patrick’s father (also a  Jeremiah) had died on 20th January 1860, leaving his mother Johanna in need of support. She received a pension for her son’s sacrifice.

INFORMATION WANTED Of John, Timothy, Denis, James and Martin Driscoll, natives of Courtmacsherry, County Cork, Ireland, who arrived in America about 34 years ago. Any information of them will be thankfully received by their nephew, Daniel McCarthy, Co. H, 170th Regiment N.Y.V., Corcoran’s Irish Legion, Newport News, Va. (New York Irish-American, 13th December 1862)

31-year-old Daniel McCarthy had enlisted in the 170th New York on 15th September 1862. He was promoted to Corporal in 1863 but was returned to the ranks before April 1864, presumably for a misedemanour. He was captured at the Battle of Ream’s Station, Virginia on 25th August 1864 but survived to be paroled. He died on 26th December 1893.

INFORMATION WANTED Of John Callaghan, a native of Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland. He was a member of Co. G, 88th Regiment, Meagher’s Irish Brigade. Was taken prisoner at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and has not been heard of since. Any intelligence respecting him will be thankfully received by his brother, Patrick Callaghan, 602 Sixth Avenue, New York. (New York Irish-American, 29th August 1863)

John Callaghan had enlisted in the 88th New York on 25th August 1862 and appears to have been captured at Chancellorsville rather than Fredericksburg. he was paroled on 3rd June 1863 and would eventually rise to the rank of First Sergeant in Company E before mustering out at the war’s conclusion.

An Example of the 'Information Wanted' Section in the New York Irish-American. This issue includes the ad placed by John Granfield's Mother. (Genealogy-Bank)

An Example of the ‘Information Wanted’ Section in the New York Irish-American. This issue from 14th October 1865 includes the ad placed by John Granfield’s Mother. (Genealogy-Bank)

INFORMATION WANTED Of Anthony O’Hara, who left the parish of Backs, County Mayo, two years ago, and came to the United States. When last heard from, he was in the United States Army, Battery G, 5th Artillery, Fort Hamilton, New York Harbor. Any information of his whereabouts will be thankfully received by his brother, Michl. O’Hara, Meadville, Crawford County, Pa. (New York Irish-American, 29th August 1863)

Anthony was alive and well at the time his brother was searching for him. He had enlisted in the 5th U.S. Artillery as a 22-year-old on 29th October 1862 and served with them until his term of service expired on 22nd August 1865. He was described as a 5 foot 6 inch laborer with hazel eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion.

INFORMATION WANTED Of Owen Fox, a native of the parish of Ballintemple, County Cavan, Ireland. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians of New York, and is said to have driven a brick-cart for Patrick Lynch, the contractor. Any intelligence of him will be thankfully received by his first cousin, Patrick G. Brady, 69th Regiment, N.Y. Artillery, Corcoran’s Irish Legion, Fairfax, Alexandria P.O., Va. (New York Irish-American, 9th January 1864)

Patrick George Brady, who had submitted this query, was serving as a Private in Company K of the 182nd New York Infantry (69th New York National Guard Artillery). he had enlisted as a 39-year-old on 23rd September 1862. Unfortunately it is unlikely he ever managed to contact Owen, as Patrick was killed in action at the North Anna River on 24th May 1864.

INFORMATION WANTED Of Mary Anne Doran, daughter of Patrick Doran (or Dolan) 91st Regiment, N.Y.S.V., lately deceased. When last heard of supposed to be living with her grandparents in Eighth Avenue, New York. Any information of her will be thankfully received at 84 Wooster Street, New York, where she will hear of something to her advantage. (New York Irish-American, 3rd September 1864)

Patrick Doran had enlisted in Company K of the 91st New York from Albany on 6th November 1861 (under the name Dolan). He re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer on 1st January 1864 but died later that year of disease in Albany.

INFORMATION WANTED Of Mr. John Mulhall, who emigrated to American about three years since. When last heard of (about fifteen months ago) was Lieutenant in the 69th New York Regiment. Any information of him will be thankfully received by addressing Mr. Hugh O’Donnell, 87 North King Street, Dublin, or The Irish-American, 29 Ann Street, New York. (New York Irish-American, 19th November 1864)

John Dillon Mulhall had enrolled in the 69th New York as a First Lieutenant in Company H of the 69th on 11th February 1863. He transferred to Company B that June. He was most likely not in good health around the time of this appeal for information, as he was discharged for disability on 8th November 1864. He again mustered into the regiment on 16th February 1865, this time as Captain of Company D with whom he was wounded on 25th March that year. He was discharged on 15th May 1865 in Washington, D.C. He would live a long post-war life, claiming a pension for his service up to his death on 7th July 1903.

INFORMATION WANTED Of John Hoey, formerly of Montreal, Canada. He was last heard from June, 1863 when in the 18th Regiment N.Y.V. Information of him will be most thankfully received by his brother, James Hoey, Customs, Quebec, Canada. (New York Irish-American, 30th September 1865)

18-year-old John Hoey had enlisted in the 18th New York on 19th April 1861 as a Private, and mustered out with Company F on 28th May 1863. His fate following this date is unknown.

INFORMATION WANTED Of John Granfield, formerly a member of Co. C, (Capt. Lynch) 63d Regt. N.Y. Vols. He was captured before Richmond on the 14th day of October 1863, and when last heard from (February 14th, 1864) was confined at Belle Island as a prisoner. Any information respecting him will be most thankfully received by his mother. Address, William Downes, Attorney at Law, New Haven, Conn. (New York Irish-American, 14th October 1865)

John Granfield had enlisted as a 24-year-old in Company C of the 63rd New York on 21st August 1861. He had been captured while serving in Company B, at the Battle of Bristoe Station. He is recorded as dying of disease on 3rd March 1864 in Augusta, Georgia. His mother Mary, a widow from Co. Kerry, eventually discovered her son’s fate and was able to apply for a pension on 18th April 1866, over two years after his death. It would help to support her for a further 24 years.

References

New York Irish-American

New York Regimental Rosters

Union Pension Index Cards and Muster Rolls

Union Widow’s Pension Files

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Categories: Irish in the American Civil War

Author:Damian Shiels

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

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10 Comments on “‘Any Information Will Be Most Thankfully Received by His Mother': Tracing Missing Irishmen in 1860s New York”

  1. Joe Maghe
    August 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Quite touching and thought provoking

    • September 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

      Hi Joe,

      They certainly are- I find them among the most emotive of all records from the period.

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

  2. September 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Damian,
    Your article struck a chord with me, as my own 4 x great grandfather, John Smyth, disappeared during the Civil War, and we don’t know what happened to him. He was born in County Down, and immigrated to the United States as a young man. He had a number of siblings that also immigrated, and most of them settled in Ohio. For some reason John came to Mississippi, where he established a small farm near Jackson. He was alive in 1860, as he shows up on the Census, but both he and his wife Martha are gone by the 1870 Census, and we simply have no idea what happened to them. John was in his early 60s when the war started, as was his wife, and we assume they died during the war, but we really don’t know. His farm would have been in the direct line of march for the Union army during the 1863 Vicksburg campaign, so they probably suffered a significant loss, but how much is anybody’s guess. I am still looking for information on John and Martha, and hope one day to find out what happened to them.

    • September 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Hi,

      That is an awful story I wonder what became of them- I will have a look just in case I come across anything. It would be nice after all these years to solve the mystery. They would certainly have been hard times to be living in that area.

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

  3. September 8, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    Damian,
    I found the following ad in THE VICKSBURG HERALD, September 20, 1868:

    “Information is wanted of Mr. Thomas Fallon, who left Dublin in 1832, and resided in Vicksburg until the breakout of the war, since which time, nothing has been heard from him. Any information of him left at this office will be thankfully received by his distressed relatives.”

    • September 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Hi,

      Thanks for sharing this- there was a Thomas Fallon in the 12th Mississippi and one or two more potential candidates- it would be great to find out what happened to him. Awful to read about ‘distressed relatives’- one would suspect the news would not have been good.

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

  4. January 8, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Great work, I have been doing similar things with members of the US 7th Cavalry under Custer. This summer I am planning an expedition to search for an inscription carved into soft rock along their trail to the Little Big Horn in 1876, according to an unpublished account. .

    • January 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      Hi Paul,

      many thanks for the comment- that sounds like a fantastic trip- what is the inscription supposed to say? It would be amazing to find that.

      Kind Regards,

      Damian.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Search for Irishmen | msrth5 - September 21, 2013

    […] Reference: http://irishamericancivilwar.com/2013/08/26/any-information-will-be-most-thankfully-received-by-his-… […]

  2. Broken Homes: Irish Soldier’s Attempts to Reunite their Families | Irish in the American Civil War - October 5, 2013

    […] members sought to discover the fate of soldiers who went missing during the war (see here and here). The conflict split families apart, and papers like the Boston Pilot also carried ads from […]

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