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Woollen Factories in Richmond, Virginia in 1865 (Library of Congress)

Little Donegal in Pennsylvania: Chain Emigration and Ireland’s Great Untapped 19th Century Historical Resource

The thousands of American Civil War pension files relating to Irishmen represent one of the greatest available resources for uncovering the social history of the 19th century emigrant experience. It is a resource that is almost completely unrecognised in Ireland, a scholarly neglect that is symptomatic of the lack of awareness of the scale of […]

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The first page of the letter written by Richey Cochran to Sarah Jane in June 1862, stamped with June 1880 when it was received by the Pension Bureau (Fold3)

‘Remember me to all the folks': The Last Letter to a Limavady Woman from her Husband

Widow’s Pension Files often contain extremely poignant information. As women sought to prove their connections to their deceased spouse, they sometimes had to submit what must have been extremely treasured possessions to the Pension Agency. For Sarah Jane Cochran of Limavady, Co. Londonderry, this meant handing over the last letter ever written to her by […]

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The Pennsylvania Reserves in Action on the Peninsula in June 1862 by Waud (Library of Congress)

A Long Lived Dubliner Who Witnessed Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

In April 1938 the New York Times and Gettysburg Times brought news of the death of a 96-year-old veteran of the American Civil War. Michael Gaffney’s passing was newsworthy in itself as the numbers of veterans were dwindling, but it was also claimed that the Irishman had been present when Abraham Lincoln gave his famous […]

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42nd New York Memorial at Gettysburg (Photo:Piotrus)

Fenian Casualties at Gettysburg

Following the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, communities all over the North and South counted the cost of the three-day struggle which had taken the lives of over 7,000 men. One of the more unusual groups to be affected by the engagement were the Fenian Brotherhood, an organisation committed to securing Ireland’s freedom from […]

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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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Michael Dougherty, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, in later life

Christmas as a Prisoner of War, Richmond, 1863

Private Michael Dougherty of Falcarragh, Co. Donegal, served in the ranks of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry during the American Civil War. His bravery in combat would be recognised in 1897, when he was awarded the Medal of Honor. However, as Christmas Day 1863 approached the only thing on Michael Dougherty’s mind was survival, as he […]

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Survivors of the 69th Pennsylvania at their old position in Gettysburg in 1887

‘We Thought We Were All Gone': The 69th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg

Shortly before 9pm on 2nd July 1887 a group of Confederate veterans disembarked from their train cars at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There to greet them were some of their former foe, nearly 500 men of the old Union Philadelphia Brigade. Illuminated under red and green lights, roman candles were fired into the night sky as the […]

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Private William Haberlin

Portrait of an Irish Soldier

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog¬†offers access to a large number of Civil War related images. Among them is this hand-coloured ambrotype of a Civil War soldier. It is identified as Private William Haberlin, a native of Ireland who was killed at the Battle of Nashville, Tennessee on 16th December 1864. He […]

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The bayonet charge of the 69th Pennsylvania at Glendale as portrayed in McDermott's

‘Almost Reckless Daring': The 69th Pennsylvania at Glendale

It was just after 3 o’clock in the afternoon on 30th June, 1862 near Glendale, Virginia. Brigadier-General Joseph Hooker looked anxiously to his division’s right flank, where the Pennsylvania Reserve division under Brigadier-General George McCall had been ferociously attacked by Confederate troops. It was becoming apparent that McCall’s men might not be able to hold, […]

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Andersonville on 17th August 1864

Medal of Honor: Private Michael Dougherty, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry

On 10th December 1864, Michael Dougherty made the following entry in his diary: I feel no better. My diary is full; it is too bad, but cannot get any more. Good bye all; I did not think it would hold out so long when I commenced. Yours sufferingly, Michael Dougherty, Co. B, 13th Pa. Volunteer […]

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