Tag Archives: Irish Diaspora
Separation. Many Irish families could not afford to emigrate together. For whatever reason, all three of these women's husbands left their family home for America, never to return (Library of Congress)

‘The Hard Industry of My Own Hands': Three American Civil War Widows in Ireland Struggle to Survive

On the face of things, Irishwomen Honora Cleary, Eleanor Hogg and Maria Sheppel had little in common. For a start, they were from different parts of Ireland; Honora hailed from Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Eleanor lived in Boyle, Co. Roscommon and Maria had grown up in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Neither did the women share the same religion; Honora and Eleanor were […]

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Provost Guard of the 9th New York Infantry in 1862 (Library of Congress)

The Civil War Letters of Captain James Fleming: Part 1

In 1832 James Fleming was born to Malcolm and Ann Jane Fleming in Islandbawn, Co. Antrim. The family would later move to nearby Larne when Malcolm established a nursery there, and it was here that James grew up. In 1857 the young man decided to leave Antrim to try his luck in North America. Arriving […]

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New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City & the Hoboken Waterfront as they appeared in a Currier & Ives sketch of 1877 (Library of Congress)

The Creation of an Irish Widow: The 33rd New Jersey at Peachtree Creek, 20th July 1864

On the 20th July 1864, the 33rd New Jersey Infantry of the Army of the Cumberland found themselves at Peachtree Creek, outside Atlanta. They were gathered on a hill some 300 yards in front of the main Union position acting as an outpost for their brigade. Their divisional commander, John White Geary, thought attack unlikely. He […]

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The Excelsior Brigade Monument at Gettysburg (Photo: Cory Hartman)

‘Your Likeness Was Buried With Him': A Letter to An Irish Soldier’s Wife After Gettysburg

The second day of the Battle of Gettysburg was a tough one for New York’s Excelsior Brigade. Although not an ethnic Irish formation, many of the brigade’s regiments- such as the 70th New York Infantry- had large contingents of Irishmen in their ranks. The 2nd July at Gettysburg left many of these men dead. In […]

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Felix's former comrades of Company D, 61st New York Infantry, as they appeared in the Spring of 1863 (Library of Congress)

‘If You Ever Want To See Him Alive…Come Immediately': A Race Against Time For An Irish Soldier’s Wife

Felix Mooney was 53-years-old when he enlisted in what became Company D of the 61st New York Infantry on 12th August 1861. Wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill on 1st July 1862, he was taken prisoner and sent to Richmond. By the time he was exchanged on 27th July he had to be sent straight […]

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Sarah Jane Cochran: Irish Pensioner of the American Civil War (StoryMap)

Visualizing One Irishwoman’s Experience of the American Civil War Using StoryMap JS

As most of you are aware by now, I am constantly looking at new techniques to visualize the Irish experience of the American Civil War. My latest foray into this area has been with StoryMap JS, a free tool developed by Knightlab at Northwestern University. StoryMap is designed to allow you to tell stories with […]

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Union scouts operating in Louisiana in 1864 (Library of Congress)

‘I Hope Soon To Be With You': The Civil War in Texas and Cork, 1866

We tend to view the surrenders of Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston in April 1865 as marking the end of the American Civil War, but for many thousands of volunteer Federal soldiers their time in uniform still had many months to run. Even after the official end of the conflict, death could still find these men at […]

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A sketch of the USS Wabash (Library of Congress)

‘I Feel Very Lonely and Downhearted': Isolation, Idealism and Kindred in the Letters of an Irish Emigrant

Widow’s Pension Files are among the most remarkable records that survive relating to the American Civil War. Filled with fascinating social information, they often also contain primary sources from 1861-1865- such as wartime letters- that have lain unread for over a century. Many thousands of these files relate to Irish people, and contain important details […]

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Former Confederates taking the Oath of Allegiance in 1865, drawing by Alfred Waud (Library of Congress)

‘He May Be Lurking About Charleston': The Hunt for Irish Confederate Deserters

Men deserted the armies of the North and South in their thousands during the American Civil War. They did so for many different reasons; some tired of the rigours of military discipline, while others had become emotionally drained by their experiences. Some simply lost faith in the fight, or enlisted only with the intent of […]

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Rations being distributed at Andersonville, Georgia, 1864. This scene is perhaps closer to the type of experience Colin had at Salisbury and Libby (Library of Congress)

‘Should this Book Be Ever Found on My Dead Body': A POW’s Fate and a Letter to Ireland

On the 27th January 1865 a Union prisoner of war was found dead in the yard of Salisbury Prison, North Carolina. The soldier, recently transferred from Libby Prison in Richmond, appeared to have died from a combination of exposure and disease. He apparently had no close friends to look out for him, so fellow prisoners […]

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