Tag Archives: Irish American Civil War
An unidentified Union Sailor (Library of Congress)

‘In the Midst of Sorrow': An Irish-American Sailor’s Fate, Christmas Eve, 1864

The Christmas period tended to be a tough one for working-class New Yorkers in the 1860s. The seasonality of many laboring jobs and an increased cost of living caused by heightened fuel consumption saw many families struggle. Between 1861 and 1865 many had the added burden of worrying about a loved-one at the front. This […]

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Parliament Street in Dublin, looking towards City Hall. This is where First Sergeant O'Driscoll's letter from Petersburg arrived to the newspaper offices in 1864 (Wikipedia)

Reporting the War in Irish Newspapers: Correspondence from the Petersburg Front

A constant stream of information about the American Civil War made its way to Ireland between 1861 and 1865. This came in forms such as family letters home, but it was also a hot topic for Irish newspapers. Some, such as James Roche’s strongly pro-Union Galway-American (later printed in Dublin as the United Irishman and […]

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The Stone Wall at the base of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, the target of the Irish Brigade Assault (Library of Congress)

‘In Account Of We Being Irish': A New Irish Brigade Letter After Fredericksburg

As some readers will be aware I am currently working on a long-term project identifying and transcribing the letters of Irish and Irish-American soldiers contained within the Civil War Widows & Dependents Pension Files. This work has already identified large numbers of previously unpublished letters of Irish soldiers, which I intend to prepare for ultimate […]

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Camp Wool, where James Fleming was writing from (Charles Johnson, The Long Roll)

The Civil War Letters of Captain James Fleming, Part 3: With Hawkins’ Zouaves at Hatteras Inlet

In the third instalment of letters from James Fleming of Antrim (Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here), we join the young Irish officer of the 9th New York “Hawkins’ Zouaves” at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. These three letters span November 1861 to January 1862. In the first of them James talks of his many countrymen in the […]

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Illinois Prairie Grass, from which the Murphy Family made their livelihood (Robert Lawton)

‘Debilitated By Having Borne 13 Children': An Irish Emigrant Recounts Her Family Story, 1871

In May 1871 an elderly Monaghan woman, ‘infirm and broken in body’, came into Chicago from her ‘Irish Shanty’ on the open prairie outside the city. Possessing little other than ‘her scanty wardrobe’, she had come to meet her attorney. It was not her first visit. Earlier that year, she had dictated the story of […]

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A woman in mourning clothes holding an image of a soldier (Library of Congress)

‘God Has Called Your Husband to the Other Shore': The Letters that turned Wives into Widows

Few historic documents intrude on the intimate emotional experiences of past people quite like the letters that brought them news of a loved ones death. To read them is to at once imagine that first occasion when they were read. Though death may have occurred days, weeks or even months before, it was the act […]

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Patrick Cleburne & The Battle of Franklin

‘Patrick Cleburne & The Battle of Franklin': The 2014 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event Keynote Address

On Friday 14th November last it was my great privilege to deliver the Keynote Address at the 2014 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event in The Factory, Franklin. The title of the paper was ‘Patrick Cleburne & The Battle of Franklin’ and it dealt with the life, death and legacy of the Cork native, together […]

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The Landscape of Inisheer, where John Donohoe grew up (Thomas Winter, Flickr Creative Commons)

Aran Islanders Abroad: An Inisheer Family and the American Civil War

If you had met John Donohoe in early 1861, it would have meant you were a visitor to one of the remotest locations in Europe. Thats because you would have been on Inisheer (Innis Oírr), a Gaelic speaking island off Ireland’s west coast. At only 2 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, it is the smallest of the Aran […]

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Officers on the deck of the U.S.S. Onondaga. The identity of the Irish correspondent, 'Garryowen', has not been established (National Archives)

Celebrating Thanksgiving Aboard Union Ironclads, James River, 1864

In November 1864 a number of Union Ironclads were to be found on the James River in Virginia, supporting Federal ground operations there. A large number of the men on board the vessels of the James River Flotilla were Irish; indeed they made up an estimated 20% of all Union sailors. How did they and […]

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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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