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Photograph of John Ruddy taken at Harewood Hospital following his wounding at the South Side Railroad on 2nd April 1865 (National Museum of Health and Medicine)

Looking into the Face of a Dying Irish Soldier

Around late April or early May of 1865 a photographer in Harewood Hospital, Washington D.C. exposed a photograph of a wounded Union soldier. The man, who still wore the beard he favoured on campaign, had been shot through the left shoulder during the fighting around Petersburg. His name was John Ruddy, an Irish farmer and […]

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An unidentified soldier of the 5th New Hampshire Infantry (Library of Congress)

A Soldier’s Thoughts turn to Ireland- Petersburg, Virginia, 1864

In 1864 James McDonnell was a 27-year old Irishman serving in the 5th New Hampshire Infantry. His unit would end the war with the dubious distinction of having suffered more battle fatalities than any other Union regiment. James had not been an early volunteer- financially motivated, he enlisted as a draft substitute on 1st October […]

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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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The Irish Brigade Mule Race on St. Patrick's Day 1863 as drawn by Edwin Forbes (Library of Congress)

St. Patrick’s Day in the Irish Brigade: Petersburg, 17th March 1865

The Irish Brigade celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in 1863 are the most famous from the period of the American Civil War, recorded as they were by a number of writers and in a series of wonderful illustrations by Edwin Forbes. But what of festivities in honour of the Irish patron saint in other years? We […]

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