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

The Forgotten Sixty-Ninth: A Thesis on the 69th New York National Guard Artillery

Although a significant amount has been written about the wartime exploits of the Irish Brigade, particularly between 1861 and 1863, very little ink has been spilt on the other Irish brigade formation- Corcoran’s Irish Legion. This is a serious anomaly given their significance with respect to both Irish-American attitudes towards the Civil War and also […]

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Doe Castle, near Creeslough, Co. Donegal.

In Search of Michael Corcoran’s Ireland

Michael Corcoran emigrated to the United States in 1849, shortly before his 22nd birthday. In the fourteen years that remained to him he became one of Irish-America’s most popular and influential leaders. Rising to Colonel of the 69th New York State Militia he notoriously refused to parade the regiment on the occasion of the Prince […]

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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 beĀ inuredĀ to the horrors of combat- created an unforgettable festive atmosphere at their camp, where those who visited […]

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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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Soldiers & Chiefs Exhibition National Museum of Ireland, with display inspired by the Lieutenant McCarthy letter

‘I Feel Like I’m Deserted’: The Impact of One Soldier’s Death in Corcoran’s Irish Legion

On 8th September 1864, First Lieutenant Patrick McCarthy of Company C, 182nd New York Infantry (69th New York National Guard), sat down to write a letter to the father of one of his comrades. The young man found himself with the unpleasant task of providing the family with details of their son’s death. Two weeks […]

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