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Irish emigrants sending money back to Ireland from the Emigrants Savings Bank in 1880 (Library of Congress)

‘As Good A Chance to Escape As Any Other': A Cork Soldier’s Aid to His Family in Ireland, 1864

Occasionally, I am asked why any Irish impacted by the American Civil War should be remembered in Ireland. After all, the argument goes, these people left our shores, and they weren’t fighting for ‘Ireland.’ In response, I usually point out that many were Famine-era emigrants, who often felt they had little choice but to leave. […]

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North Anna River, Virginia. Pontoon bridges across the North Anna, below railroad bridge, where a portion of the 2nd Corps under General Hancock crossed, May 23, 1864 (Timothy O'Sullivan/ Library of Congress)

150 Years Ago: An Irish Photographer Captures the Overland Campaign

As I head to Virginia to visit some of the sites relating to the start of the 1864 Overland Campaign, I have been looking again at the contemporary photographs captured during that momentous summer. Irishmen were not just present among the fighting men of the two opposing forces, they were also there to document the […]

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Saunders Field, Wilderness

Slaughter in Saunder’s Field: The 9th Massachusetts at The Wilderness

On the afternoon of 5th May 1864 Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick T. Hanley of the 9th Massachusetts Infantry stood with his men in the tangled and confusing wooded landscape that characterised the area known as ‘The Wilderness’ in Virginia. As battle raged, Hanley’s brigade commander Colonel Jacob B. Sweitzer came rushing up to confront the Irishman, loudly […]

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