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The Battle of Fair Oaks by Currier & Ives (Library of Congress)

‘A Deep Blow to Your Heart': Patrick Clooney’s Newly Uncovered Description of the Irish Brigade at Fair Oaks

On 16th September 1862, 33-year-old Ann Dunnigan appeared before an Albany judge to begin the process of claiming a widow’s pension. Her husband Patrick had been mortally wounded in the Irish Brigade’s first major engagement- the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia- on 1st June 1862. As part of her evidence, Ann handed over a detailed […]

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Parliament Street in Dublin, looking towards City Hall. This is where First Sergeant O'Driscoll's letter from Petersburg arrived to the newspaper offices in 1864 (Wikipedia)

Reporting the War in Irish Newspapers: Correspondence from the Petersburg Front

A constant stream of information about the American Civil War made its way to Ireland between 1861 and 1865. This came in forms such as family letters home, but it was also a hot topic for Irish newspapers. Some, such as James Roche’s strongly pro-Union Galway-American (later printed in Dublin as the United Irishman and […]

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The Stone Wall at the base of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, the target of the Irish Brigade Assault (Library of Congress)

‘In Account Of We Being Irish': A New Irish Brigade Letter After Fredericksburg

As some readers will be aware I am currently working on a long-term project identifying and transcribing the letters of Irish and Irish-American soldiers contained within the Civil War Widows & Dependents Pension Files. This work has already identified large numbers of previously unpublished letters of Irish soldiers, which I intend to prepare for ultimate […]

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The William Higgins Pendant. Obverse to left, Reverse to right (Arrangement by Sara Nylund after original photograph by Cathy Nicholls)

Witnesses to History: A Memento of a Missing Man

The Witnesses to History series aims to connect an object or document which still exists today with the story of the people behind the item. Following the first post, which featured the 170th New York Bounty List, I was contacted by reader Cathy Nicholls in England. Some 40 years ago in Brooklyn, Cathy had purchased […]

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Jefferson Davis shown hanging from a 'Sour Apple Tree' in Harper's Weekly (Library of Congress)

‘Tell Him I Am A Soger': Lyrics, Loyalty and Family in the Letters of an Irish Brigade Faugh

Patrick Kelly emigrated from Co. Galway to Boston with his parents. In 1861 he enlisted in the 28th Massachusetts Infantry, an Irish regiment that ultimately served in the Irish Brigade. During his service he wrote frequently to his parents at home in Boston; the letters portray a young man who was a lover of music […]

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Officers of the 63rd New York Infantry in June 1865 (Library of Congress)

‘Friend Patt theres only 8 of us that left…': An Irish Brigade Soldier’s Letter at War’s End

For a number of weeks after Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia thousands of Union troops remained in the field in Virginia. During this period men often reflected on the past and the many comrades they had lost and looked forward to returning home. Meanwhile officers tried to keep the men […]

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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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Screenshot of Google Fusion Table Heat Map, showing detail of Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C. and southern Pennsylvania, and highlighting the major battles where the 63rd New York suffered significant casualties

Mapping Death in the American Civil War

I have been experimenting recently with different ways of visualizing the impact of the American Civil War. I am interested in how we can combine data recorded in the 19th century with some of the new digital tools available, in an effort to find new ways of engaging with this history and potentially reveal further […]

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Officers of the 63rd New York Infantry with their Colors. This image was likely taken in late 1863/ early 1864 (Library of Congress)

Bowld Soldier Boys: The Return of Irish Brigade Veterans to New York, January 1864

150 years ago, as 1864 dawned, the veteran volunteers of the Irish Brigade came home to New York. These men had come through some of the toughest battles of the war but had taken the decision to carry on the fight. Some were motivated by a desire to see the conflict out, while others were […]

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An Extract of the Statements Provided by John Barrett and John Gleason for Timothy Durick (John Barrett could sign his name, John Gleason was illiterate so made his mark- Image via Fold3)

Dependent Father: How one Irish Brigade Soldier’s Service Helped an Elderly Man in Rural Tipperary

Each month for much of the 1880s the octogenarian Timothy Durick travelled from his home in Lackamore, Castletownarra, Co. Tipperary to the nearby town of Nenagh. He made the journey to visit the Post Office and collect his pension, which was worth $8 U.S. Dollars. In order to secure the pension the elderly man had […]

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