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The Charge of the 164th New York at Cold Harbor on 3rd June 1864 by Alfred Waud (Library of Congress)

‘God Help Her': The Emotional Impact of Cold Harbor, 3rd June 1864, On Two Irish Women

150 years ago today one of the bloodiest and costliest assaults of the American Civil War was underway at Cold Harbor. The Union attackers were slaughtered in droves. Few suffered as much as the men of Corcoran’s Irish Legion. Among their brigade were the Zouaves of the 164th New York Infantry, who sustained a staggering 154 […]

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Sketch showing portions of the Union secondary line at Petersburg, including Fort McMahon and Fort Patrick Kelly (Official Records Atlas)

Remembering The Fallen At Petersburg: Forts McMahon and Patrick Kelly

By September 1864 the Union forces at Petersburg had been facing their Confederate foe across a series of entrenchments and fortifications since mid-June. The Federals decided to commit to a strategy of continually extending their lines westward, seeking to exploit their advantages in manpower. With this stratagem they sought to stretch the Army of Northern Virginia to […]

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Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Murphy and Officers of the 170th New York Infantry, Corcoran's Irish Legion, 1863 (Library of Congress)

‘Transported to Fairyland': Christmas With Corcoran’s Irish Legion, 1862

Brigadier-General Michael Corcoran’s Irish Legion spent their first Christmas in the field at Newport News, Virginia in 1862. While the Army of the Potomac licked its wounds further north after the catastrophe of Fredericksburg, Corcoran’s brigade- yet to be inured to the horrors of combat- created an unforgettable festive atmosphere at their camp, where those who visited […]

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Men of the 164th New York, Corcoran's Irish Legion (Library of Congress)

‘Rum Racker’s Club': A Ballad of the 164th New York in the Field

Throughout the course of the war the New York Irish-American received regular correspondence from Irishmen serving in the field. These men usually wrote pieces under a pseudonym or using only their initials. Regular reports arrived from Corcoran’s Irish Legion via a correspondent called ‘Fenian’ of the 164th New York ‘Phoenix’ Regiment. On 1st January 1863 he […]

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The Battle of Deserted House, Virginia, 1863 (War of the Rebellion Atlas- Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections)

Baptism of Fire: The Corcoran Legion at Deserted House, Virginia, 30th January 1863

Formed in late 1862, the early war experience of Brigadier-General Michael Corcoran’s ‘Irish Legion’ is often forgotten. Their first major battles would not come until 1864, when they suffered severe casualties during Grant’s Overland Campaign. However, their initial taste of Rebel fire had come over a year earlier, on 30th January 1863. This engagement, which […]

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Dennis F. Burke, Colonel, 88th New York, Irish Brigade.

Face to Face with the Fenians: Mugshots of American Civil War Veterans, Part 1

The Fenian movement in America was extremely active before, during and immediately after the American Civil War. It recruited Irishmen with the aim of ‘striking a blow’ for Ireland when the opportunity arose. Many high profile Irish officers during the war were members, particularly in the Union ranks. Some returned to Ireland in 1866 to […]

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