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Lincoln Hospital as it appeared during the American Civil War. Corporal Patrick Scanlan died here, and William Duffie wrote from War 10 to inform Ann Scanlan of his last words (Library of Congress)

‘After I Am Dead, Write to My Wife': An Irish Soldier’s Last Moments Revealed

I have read the Widow’s Pension Files of many Irish families who were devastated by the American Civil War. The information contained in each reveals much about both the family behind the soldier and the long-term impact of the conflict on generations of Irish-Americans. However, when reading the application of Ann Scanlan, whose husband Patrick […]

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Detail of the inscription on the case, which was produced for the 50th anniversary dinner for Irish Brigade survivors of Fredericksburg (Patricia Doherty)

The Irish Brigade Cigarette Case in the Attic

A little over a year ago friend Jim Swan, author of the excellent Chicago’s Irish Legion sent me on an image of a cigarette case he had come across. It  commemorated a 50th anniversary dinner held in 1912 for the survivors of the Irish Brigade who served at Fredericksburg. I decided to research the object, which […]

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Cobb's and Kershaw's Troops Behind the Stone Wall at Fredericksburg, by Allen Christian Redwood c. 1894 (Library of Congress)

Robert McMillan, 24th Georgia Infantry: ‘A Gallant Irishman at Fredericksburg’

The Battle of Fredericksburg is best known from an Irish perspective for the doomed advance of the Irish Brigade. But a number of Irishmen faced their more famous countrymen from behind the stone wall at Marye’s Heights, dressed in Confederate grey. Chief among them was Colonel Robert McMillan of the 24th Georgia Infantry, who played […]

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Bringing in the Wounded at Fredericksburg (Arthur Lumley/Library of Congress)

‘Hell Personified was Close at Hand': Captain John Donovan’s Account of Fredericksburg

Captain John H. Donovan of the 69th New York went into action at the Battle of Fredericksburg already bearing the scars of war. While serving with the Irish Brigade at Malvern Hill in July 1862 he had suffered the loss of one of his eyes and the mutilation of his right ear. He had then been captured […]

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Officers distributing the green boxwood sprigs to the Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg (Klem, The National Tribune)

Illustrations of the Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg

Private William McCarter of the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry, Irish Brigade, is best known for his memoirs My Life in the Irish Brigade. The Irishman’s account of the Battle of Fredericksburg, in which he was wounded, is amongst the most vivid of that engagement (for an account of the 116th Pennsylvania’s experiences on that day see […]

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Thomas Plunkett

Medal of Honor: Sergeant Thomas Plunkett, 21st Massachusetts Infantry

This second post exploring the stories of Irish born Medal of Honor winners focuses on Sergeant Thomas Plunkett of the 21st Massachusetts Infantry. He received his award for actions at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia on 13th December 1862, when he participated in the fateful Union charge against the Confederate positions on Marye’s Heights. Irishman […]

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Lieutenant Robert T. McGuire, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry. Wounded at Fredericksburg, he died of his wounds some years later.

‘Simply Madness to Advance': The 116th Pennsylvania at Fredericksburg

It was just past 9am on 13th December 1862 when Private William Dehaven of the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry was given the order to fall in with the men of his regiment. He and the rest of the Irish Brigade prepared to move through the streets of Fredericksburg and attack the Confederate positions beyond the town […]

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