Tag Archives: Battle of Cold Harbor
The last words written by Hubert McNamara, hours before his death at the Battle of Cold Harbor (National Archives/Fold3)

‘Goodbye For A While’: An Irish Soldier’s Last Letter Home, Found on his Dead Body at Cold Harbor

On the 8th June 1864 Captain Dexter Ludden and his men from the 8th New York Heavy Artillery were picking their way through corpses. They had been assigned the unpleasant task of burying some of the many, many dead who had fallen assaulting the Confederate works at Cold Harbor. By then the bodies they were […]

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A Soldier's dream of Home (Library of Congress)

‘You Put Your Arm Around My Neck and Kissed Me’: Sex, Love & Duty in the Letters of an Irish Brigade Soldier

Letters included in the pension file often contain some very personal information. Surely few match those written by the Irish Brigade’s Samuel Pearce to his wife Margaret. The correspondence details not only the railroad man’s initial efforts to avoid the draft and use of an alias, but also provides a unique and intimate insight into […]

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The Charge of the 164th New York at Cold Harbor on 3rd June 1864 by Alfred Waud (Library of Congress)

‘God Help Her’: The Emotional Impact of Cold Harbor, 3rd June 1864, On Two Irish Women

150 years ago today one of the bloodiest and costliest assaults of the American Civil War was underway at Cold Harbor. The Union attackers were slaughtered in droves. Few suffered as much as the men of Corcoran’s Irish Legion. Among their brigade were the Zouaves of the 164th New York Infantry, who sustained a staggering 154 […]

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Nicholas Collins. Died 6th June 1862.

Memorial Day: The Irish-American Dead of Cold Harbor National Cemetery

During my recent trip to the United States I visited a number of National Cemeteries, including Glendale, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Cold Harbor and Arlington. Many of the headstones in these cemeteries stand as testament to the extent of Irish and Irish-American involvement in the American Civil War. In each cemetery I photographed many graves where ‘Irish’ […]

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Irish Brigade Monument

‘Good-By, Good-By’: Richard Byrnes Writes a Final Letter to His Wife

On 17th May 1864, Colonel Richard Byrnes of the 28th Massachusetts Infantry paid an early morning visit to Father William Corby, Chaplain of the Irish Brigade. A regular army officer before the war, the strict disciplinarian had been appointed to command of the 28th in the autumn of 1862. Now, on the bloody battlefield of Spotsylvania Court […]

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The Battle of Beaver Creek, 26th June 1862

Book Review: Memoir of Andrew J. Byrne

Andrew J. Byrne was born in Dublin in 1830. In 1898 he decided to commence writing his memoirs, which he finished in 1909, two years before his death. Superficially there seems to be nothing unusual about Byrne’s life; he was born in Dublin and died in Dublin, and spent much of his life employed in […]

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