Author Archives | Damian Shiels
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 Irish Brigade’s first major engagement- the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia- on 1st June 1862. As part of her evidence, Ann handed over a detailed […]

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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. But just how many Irish served during the conflict? Relatively little detailed modern research has taken place to establish this, and it is undoubtedly a […]

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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 come, and was ever after remembered by all who had come into contact with the particulars. At its centre was an intellectually disabled ‘idiot’ boy […]

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Sligo

The #ForgottenIrish of Co. Sligo

The latest #ForgottenIrish story looking at Co. Sligo is now available on Storify. It is the sixth county to be examined, joining  Cork, Kerry, Donegal, Galway and Cavan, with Dublin to follow shortly. Storify also has a piece looking at Civil War Pensioners in Ireland. If you would like to read the Sligo Storify you can do […]

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'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 I have had some interesting readers. One of the more unusual has to be Cher, who reportedly read my book on the topic. Yesterday I discovered that the award-winning, internationally renowned journalist Robert Fisk wrote a piece for the English Independent newspaper entitled […]

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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 was privileged to deliver at the 2014 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event in The Factory, Franklin last November. The event was organised to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin. In the Keynote I discussed the life, legacy and death […]

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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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