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Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office, Washington DC. She helped many families learn the fate of their loved ones following the Civil War, but unfortunately Alexander Scarff's parents were not among them. (Photo by E.L. Malvaney)

A 150 Year Old Missing Persons Case- In Search of a 19-Year-Old Irishman

On 5th November 1862 ‘Arthur Shaw’, a 19-year-old Dubliner, stepped off the decks of the Great Western and into the hustle and bustle of New York City. From that day forward, his family never heard from him again. I have spent considerable time trying to piece together some elements of this boy’s story, aiming to uncover just who […]

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'St. Patrick's Day in America, 1874' (Library of Congress)

‘Flags of Old Ireland for One Cent!’ and ‘All’s right- Dad’s Sober’: New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 1864

What was St. Patrick’s Day like 150 years ago? What type of groups marched in the Parade, and what types of imagery did they use? We are fortunate that the full line up of the 1864 New York Parade survives, together with detailed descriptions of the dress and banners of each Society. What emerges is […]

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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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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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The W.P. Gunnell House where Brigadier-General Michael Corcoran died (Photograph Dave Sullivan)

‘Our Orphan Children Will Not Soon Forget Him’: The Death of General Michael Corcoran

150 years ago, on the evening of Tuesday 22nd December, 1863, a stunned Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Reed prepared to send a message that promised to send shockwaves through New York City. The commander of the 69th New York National Guard Artillery dictated the following telegram to be immediately communicated to the press: FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE , Tuesday, […]

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Eastern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (Library of Congress)

How To Find American Civil War Veterans from Irish Counties: A Case Study of Mathew Dooley, Roscrea

I receive regular requests from around Ireland to provide information on men from specific parts of the country who served during the American Civil War. Pinning veterans down to a locality of origin is a difficult challenge, but it is often possible to reveal some of their stories. Having recently conducted  research on one fascinating […]

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Daniel Divver with his helmet from Eagle Engine 13 (Our Firemen)

Daniel Divver: An Irish Fireman in the American Civil War

The Irish community in New York has long links to the Fire Service. Large numbers of immigrant Irishmen served in the city’s Engine, Hose and Hook & Ladder companies during the 1850s and 1860s. In an era where insurance firms paid independent companies to put out fires, rivalry between firemen was often fierce. However, when […]

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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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Federal troops go into action at the Battle of Olustee, 20th February 1864 (History of the 8th USCT)

‘I Have Heard No News From Him’: Catherine Mullen’s Search for her Husband

For women whose husbands went to war, it could often be long months before they heard news of their loved ones. For many the only means they had of gauging the well-being of their men was through the regularity of the letters they received. Of course some soldiers were not good at writing home, while […]

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The Pension Index Card of Captain Edward B. Carroll, 63rd New York Infantry, Irish Brigade (Fold3.com)

War’s Cruel Hand: The Dedicated Service of Edward Carroll, Irish Brigade

Occasionally one has to look no further than a soldier’s service record to see both the poignancy and cruelty of war. Such is the case with Edward B. Carroll of the 63rd New York Infantry, Irish Brigade. As I carry out work on the 63rd and other ‘green flag’ New York regiments, even a few […]

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