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The USS Monitor and CSS Virginia do battle the day after James Leahy's death (Library of Congress)

Hearing the Irish Accent of a Merrimac Victim Across 150 Years

On 8th March 1862, the Confederate Ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) steamed out of Norfolk, Virginia to attack the Federal fleet in Hampton Roads. The resulting two-day encounter remains one of the most famous naval engagements in history. One Yankee sailor would later recall how an awful silence descended over the men of the […]

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A Sketch of Con Garvin and his Mother Catharine Garvin in the Troy Record of 1965, sketched by artist Robert W. Daley (www.newspapers.com)

In Search of Con: The Remarkable Story of the Hunt for the ‘Idiot’ Boy Sold into Service

In late 1863, details of a sensational case began to emerge throughout the newspapers of the Union. It was a story that would be told and retold for decades to come, and was ever after remembered by all who had come into contact with the particulars. At its centre was an intellectually disabled ‘idiot’ boy […]

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The first page of the 170th New York Infantry Bounty List of October 1862 (Copyright: Joe Maghe Collection)

Witnesses to History: A Bounty List of the 170th New York, Corcoran’s Irish Legion

This is the first in a new series of posts on the site which seeks to tie surviving American Civil War objects to the stories of those people associated with them. Surviving objects from the Civil War era are tangible links to the past- they served as ‘witnesses to history.’ I have long been fascinated by the […]

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The Great Naval Victory at Mobile Bay by Currier & Ives (Library of Congress)

The 14 Irish Medal of Honor Recipients of the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama

On 5th August 1864 a fleet of eighteen Union ships under Rear Admiral David G. Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Alabama on the Confederacy’s Gulf Coast. Their aim was to put the port out of action as a centre for blockade running. The fleet passed under ferocious fire from Forts Gaines and Morgan- and through a […]

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The Arthur B. Cohn House in Houston. Built in 1905, it incorporated elements of the earlier Browne family home and was originally built on land owned by Winnifred Browne (Ed Uthman)

John Browne of Ballylanders, Co. Limerick: Confederate Veteran, Mayor of Houston, Texas

On 19th August 1941 John T. Browne died in Houston, Texas, having led a most remarkable life. He had been born in Co. Limerick 96 years before and had become one of Ireland’s many Famine emigrants. In his youth he had seen Sam Houston speak, served in the Confederate Army, and eventually embarked on a […]

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The Battle of Chancellorsville (Kurz and Allison)

150 Years Ago: The Human Cost of Chancellorsville for two Irish Women

On 2nd May 1863, 150 years ago, hordes of Confederate troops appeared as if from nowhere and descended on the unsuspecting Yankees of the Eleventh Corps in the Virginia Wilderness. The blow Stonewall Jackson’s Rebels delivered to the Federal flank during the Battle of Chancellorsville is remembered as one of the most famous and brilliant actions of […]

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The September/October 2012 issue of History Ireland Magazine, produced by Wordwell

An Appearance in History Ireland Magazine

While I was working as part of the curatorial team that developed the Soldiers & Chiefs Military History exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland I had the good fortune to be heavily involved in the identification and acquisition of items for the American Civil War gallery. Among the objects we secured on loan was […]

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Jeremiah O'Brien- the last Irish born veteran of the American Civil War? (Photo: Shan Murphy, Find A Grave)

Jeremiah O’Brien: The Last Irish Veteran of the American Civil War?

In 1950 Harry S. Truman was the President of the United States. The greatest conflict the world had ever seen had drawn to a conclusion over five years previously, and the Korean War was about to begin. By 1950 the American Civil War had been over for 89 years- by the end of the decade […]

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John Dooley's Civil War

Book Review: John Dooley’s Civil War

Richmond native John Dooley served in the First Virginia Infantry Regiment between 1862 and 1865. The Dooleys were one of the South’s most prominent Irish-American families, and counted figures such as John Mitchel amongst their family friends. Both during and after the conflict John Dooley recorded his experiences in the Confederate army, offering an insight […]

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A Field Hospital after the Battle of Savage Station, 1862 (Library of Congress)

Nurse Mary McCoy, The Battle of Fair Oaks and a ‘Tin Dipper’ for President Lincoln

As the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fair Oaks approaches, it is interesting to note the contribution of one Irish woman to the battle, which was remembered long after the war. New York newspapers in 1899 carried the obituary of a clearly remarkable woman, who deserves to be better known amongst those Irish who […]

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