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Former slaves in Beaufort, South Carolina shortly after Emancipation (Library of Congress)

In Bondage to the Irish: Slave Ownership Among Irish Confederate Officers

A total of sixteen Irish-born men reached the rank of either Colonel or General in the Confederate forces during the American Civil War. What was these men’s relationship with and investment in slavery, if any? The most famous slavery-related incident involving an Irish Confederate officer was Major-General Patrick Cleburne’s 1864 proposal to arm the slaves. Cleburne […]

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Colonel James E. Mallon (Library of Congress)

‘Equaled by Few- Surpassed by None': Colonel James Mallon and the Battle of Bristoe Station

At least 150,000 Irish-born men fought for the Union during the American Civil War. However this figure does not include those first-generation Irish, born in Canada and the United States, who considered themselves just as Irish as anyone born on the Emerald Isle. In an antebellum society where Know-Nothingism and anti-Catholic sentiment were widespread, ethnicity […]

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Colonel O'Brien attacked outside the Drugstore (Harper's Weekly)

Irish Colonels: Henry F. O’Brien, 11th New York Infantry

Over 25 Irishmen served as Colonels in units raised in the State of New York. Many are well-known, having served in ethnic Irish regiments such as those of the Irish Brigade and Corcoran’s Legion. Perhaps one of the least recognisable, and certainly one of the most tragic, is Colonel Henry F. O’Brien. He took over […]

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Colonel Michael Kerwin, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, in later life

Irish Colonels: Michael Kerwin, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Michael Kerwin was born in Co. Wexford on 15th August 1837. He emigrated with his parents to the United States at the age of 10, settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There he was educated in a private academy and trained as a lithographic printer. In his spare time he spent a number of years involved with […]

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Patrick Henry Jones on Horseback (www.hardtackregiment.com)

General Patrick Henry Jones: An Exciting New Biography and Appeal

The 154th New York Infantry is one of the more fortunate of Civil War regiments. It has enjoyed what is perhaps unparalleled focus from a single historian, a man who for the past four decades has intensively studied the unit, its men and what it meant to  serve in its ranks. Mark Dunkelman has now […]

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Battle of Shiloh (Chromolithograph by Thure de Thulstrup, 1888)

James Wall Scully’s Unpublished Battle of Shiloh Letters

A recent post provided by Anthony McCan highlighted some previously unpublished letters from Kilkenny native James Wall Scully which related to the Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky. Anthony has kindly passed on another series of unpublished Scully letters which were written around the time of the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee in April 1862. Having served […]

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Monument of the 73rd New York Infantry at Gettysburg, erected in 1897 and depicting a Union infantryman and a fireman side by side (Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg)

Irish Colonels: Michael William Burns, 73rd New York Infantry

Michael William Burns was born in Ireland in 1834. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 14, and prior to the outbreak of the Civil War worked as a city inspector and a fireman. It was his connections with the fire service that led him to raise a Company to serve in […]

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Battle of Mill Springs

James Wall Scully’s Unpublished Battle of Mill Springs Letters

James Wall Scully was born in Kilkenny in 1837. He emigrated to the United States and in 1856 enlisted in the U.S. Army, beginning an association that would continue until 1900 when he retired with the rank of Brigadier-General. Anthony McCan has carried out in-depth research on the Irishman, and is the author of a […]

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The Dunker Church on the Antietam Battlefield. The Cornfield is not far from this position (Library of Congress)

Irish Colonels: Howard Carroll, 105th New York Infantry

Over 25 Irish born officers commanded New York regiments during the American Civil War. The most well known led units in the Irish Brigade and Corcoran’s Irish Legion, but the majority of Irishmen did not serve in specific ethnic formations. Among these men was Dubliner Howard Carroll. He was appointed Colonel of the 105th New […]

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Colonel Michael Magevney 154th Tennessee

Irish Colonels: Michael Magevney Jr., 154th Tennessee Infantry

More Irish born men reached the rank of general in the American Civil War than any other foreign nationality. However, there were many more Irishmen who achieved the rank of Colonel without advancing to a more exalted rank. In the first in a new series on Irish in the American Civil War we will be exploring […]

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