On Saturday I will be heading to the U.S. for two weeks, so in that period things may be a bit quiet on the blog. For much of the trip I will be based in Fredericksburg as I attend the 150th commemorations at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania battlefields. Despite the time I have spent working on the Irish experience of the American Civil War, this trip represents my first opportunity to visit some of the conflict’s battlefields. I am greatly looking forward to participating in some of the NPS events, particularly the walking tours. Having spent a lot of time with American Civil War pension files of late, it is striking just how often Irish deaths in combat occurred during the carnage of 1864’s summer. The horrendous experience of the 9th Massachusetts over just a few minutes in Saunder’s Field on 5th May 1864 is one of the stories I concentrate on in my book, and I now have a privileged opportunity to stand on the same ground 150 years later. This will be just one of what I hope will be a number of highlights of my time in America, during which I hope to amass significant blog post material!
Apart from The Wilderness and Spotsylvania I will also be visiting (at a minimum) the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Antietam and Seven Days battlefields, as well as spending some time in Willliamsburg, Jamestown, Harper’s Ferry and Washington D.C. If any of you are attending any of the events, and happen across an out-of-place Irishman, be sure to come and say hello! The National Park Service have produced an excellent booklet on their 150th Overland events which you can view here and you can check out the Spotsylvania, Virginia- Crossroads of the Civil War events here.