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Illinois Prairie Grass, from which the Murphy Family made their livelihood (Robert Lawton)

‘Debilitated By Having Borne 13 Children': An Irish Emigrant Recounts Her Family Story, 1871

In May 1871 an elderly Monaghan woman, ‘infirm and broken in body’, came into Chicago from her ‘Irish Shanty’ on the open prairie outside the city. Possessing little other than ‘her scanty wardrobe’, she had come to meet her attorney. It was not her first visit. Earlier that year, she had dictated the story of […]

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Civil War Veterans on their way to meet President Hoover in 1931 (Library of Congress)

Michael Casey: The Dublin Emigrant & Civil War Veteran Who Met President Roosevelt

Previous posts on the site have looked at Irish veterans of the American Civil War in the 20th century (see for example here and here). As their numbers dwindled, many newspapers ran stories about local old soldiers, who were transformed into cherished heroes with the passage of time. Many of these articles are factually flawed, but […]

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A squad of men from Battery A, 1st Illinois Light Artillery and their gun (Library of Congress)

‘Touch Her Off Azy!': An Incident at Chickamauga with Private ‘Buffalo’ Finnell

Thomas Finnell was a 35 year-old Private in Battery I of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery at the Battle of Chickamauga. During the heat of the fighting on 20th September, his battery was worked especially hard. The stress and confusion of the occasion led to a humourous incident that would be remembered by ‘Buffalo Tom’s’ […]

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The furling of a Civil War era flag at the Martin McHugh Ceremony, April 21, 2012

Medal of Honor: Seaman Martin McHugh Remembered

A recent post told the story of Landsman Thomas E. Corcoran, a Dubliner who received the Congressional Medal of Honor having helped to save the lives of some of his crewmates aboard the stricken USS Cincinnati on 27th May 1863. The vessel had been disabled by fire from the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg, having been repeatedly struck by enemy shells. […]

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The Battle of Fort Donelson, 1862 (Kurz and Allison 1887)

Captain Lawrence Collins, 58th Illinois Infantry, and the Fall of Fort Donelson

In 1860 the Collins family lived in LaSalle, Illinois. The head of the house, Jeremiah, was a blacksmith, and he and his wife Ellen had done well for themselves. This was despite the fact that they had moved to their new home relatively late in life- the couple and their four adult sons had all been […]

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General Michael Kelly Lawler Memorial, Equality, Illinois

Fighting Mike Lawler: Abe Lincoln’s Lilywhite General

As part of continued efforts to raise awareness in Ireland of the Irish contribution during the American Civil War, members of the Irish American Civil War Trail team have been attempting to highlight local figures across the country. This piece on Kildare man General Michael Kelly Lawler was prepared by Robert Doyle, and appeared in this […]

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Albert D.J. Cashier Pension Index Card

Jennie Hodgers: The Irishwoman Who Fought as a Man in the Union Army

Private Albert D.J. Cashier served in the ranks of the 95th Illinois from their muster in on 4th September 1862 until they were discharged in August 1865. A member of the regiment’s Company G, he witnessed some hard fighting at battles such as Vicksburg and Nashville. A comrade later remembered that he was the shortest […]

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Header Image

The Irish Boys at the Battle of Lexington

A Washington D.C. newspaper, The National Republican, ran a piece in their May 1st 1862 issue claiming that Irishmen in Confederate service had refused to fire on the United States flag during an engagement. Although most probably a propaganda story, it was committed to verse for the benefit of readers. The poem also includes Colonel […]

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Chicago Irish Legion

Book Review: Chicago’s Irish Legion

Books on Irish regiments in the Civil War have long focused on the Eastern Theatre, most specifically on those units in the Army of the Potomac who formed the Irish Brigade. Although the Western Theatre is now beginning to ‘see some action’ in terms of books on the Irish experience, it has tended to focus on […]

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General James Shields during the Civil War

The Duel That Almost Changed History: James Shields Challenges Abraham Lincoln

History is filled with ‘what if’ moments, those occasions where a slightly different result or outcome may have radically altered history as we know it. One such moment occurred on 22nd September 1842, when Co. Tyrone native James Shields prepared to face a fellow Illinois politician in a duel. Shields’ opponent had selected swords as […]

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