Author Archives | Damian Shiels
Storify

Storify: The #ForgottenIrish of Co. Cork

I have been using Twitter quite frequently as part of my efforts to raise awareness in Ireland of Irish participation in the American Civil War. One recent example was the stories of 41 Civil War Pensioners in Ireland which were told using the platform over the course of a weekend. This was recently featured in Civil […]

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Separation. Many Irish families could not afford to emigrate together. For whatever reason, all three of these women's husbands left their family home for America, never to return (Library of Congress)

‘The Hard Industry of My Own Hands': Three American Civil War Widows in Ireland Struggle to Survive

On the face of things, Irishwomen Honora Cleary, Eleanor Hogg and Maria Sheppel had little in common. For a start, they were from different parts of Ireland; Honora hailed from Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Eleanor lived in Boyle, Co. Roscommon and Maria had grown up in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Neither did the women share the same religion; Honora and Eleanor were […]

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Provost Guard of the 9th New York Infantry in 1862 (Library of Congress)

The Civil War Letters of Captain James Fleming: Part 1

In 1832 James Fleming was born to Malcolm and Ann Jane Fleming in Islandbawn, Co. Antrim. The family would later move to nearby Larne when Malcolm established a nursery there, and it was here that James grew up. In 1857 the young man decided to leave Antrim to try his luck in North America. Arriving […]

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The Great Naval Victory at Mobile Bay by Currier & Ives (Library of Congress)

The 14 Irish Medal of Honor Recipients of the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama

On 5th August 1864 a fleet of eighteen Union ships under Rear Admiral David G. Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Alabama on the Confederacy’s Gulf Coast. Their aim was to put the port out of action as a centre for blockade running. The fleet passed under ferocious fire from Forts Gaines and Morgan- and through a […]

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The White House of the Confederacy in 1865 (Library of Congress)

The Irish Nanny in the (Other) White House

The fundamental purpose of the Irish in the American Civil War site is to engage people with the history of Irish-America, principally through the stories of those who experienced life around the middle of the nineteenth century. I am always delighted to get opportunities to feature guest posts on the blog, which often provide different perspectives on this history. I was recently […]

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The Second Battle of Ream's Station as depicted in Frank Leslie's Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War (Frank Leslie)

‘The First Time the Old Corps was ever Whipped': A Letter from Ream’s Station

This year we are remembering the 150th anniversary of the 1864 campaigns of the American Civil War. 1864 looms large in many of the pension files relating to Irishmen and their families that I have examined. That year, thousands of Northern Irishmen died both on battlefields and in Confederate prisons. For Irish-America, as for much […]

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Gangs of New York: Recruiting the Irish ‘Straight Off the Boat’

One of the best known scenes in Martin Scorcese’s 2002 movie Gangs of New York is that which depicts the enlistment of Irish emigrants ‘straight off the boat’ into the Union army. The seemingly unsuspecting men are quickly dressed in uniform and packed off for the front, even as those unfortunates who have gone before are brought […]

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New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City & the Hoboken Waterfront as they appeared in a Currier & Ives sketch of 1877 (Library of Congress)

The Creation of an Irish Widow: The 33rd New Jersey at Peachtree Creek, 20th July 1864

On the 20th July 1864, the 33rd New Jersey Infantry of the Army of the Cumberland found themselves at Peachtree Creek, outside Atlanta. They were gathered on a hill some 300 yards in front of the main Union position acting as an outpost for their brigade. Their divisional commander, John White Geary, thought attack unlikely. He […]

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The Excelsior Brigade Monument at Gettysburg (Photo: Cory Hartman)

‘Your Likeness Was Buried With Him': A Letter to An Irish Soldier’s Wife After Gettysburg

The second day of the Battle of Gettysburg was a tough one for New York’s Excelsior Brigade. Although not an ethnic Irish formation, many of the brigade’s regiments- such as the 70th New York Infantry- had large contingents of Irishmen in their ranks. The 2nd July at Gettysburg left many of these men dead. In […]

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Austin, Nevada as it appeared during the King Survey in 1868. 'Rambler' describes the St. Patrick's Day parade here in 1864. This photograph was taken by famed American Civil War photographer (and Irishman) Timothy O'Sullivan (Smithsonian Institution)

‘The Yells of Wild Beasts and Shoshone Indians': An Irish Silver Miner in Nevada, 1864

Though the American Civil War was one of the greatest conflicts in the history of Irish people, the vast majority of Irishmen chose not to fight in Union blue or Confederate gray. Some of them went West, often in the hope of making good in new territories. 150 years ago this month one Irishman wrote […]

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