Tag Archives: Michael Corcoran
Men of the 164th New York, Corcoran's Irish Legion (Library of Congress)

The Forgotten Sixty-Ninth: A Thesis on the 69th New York National Guard Artillery

Although a significant amount has been written about the wartime exploits of the Irish Brigade, particularly between 1861 and 1863, very little ink has been spilt on the other Irish brigade formation- Corcoran’s Irish Legion. This is a serious anomaly given their significance with respect to both Irish-American attitudes towards the Civil War and also […]

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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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Doe Castle, near Creeslough, Co. Donegal.

In Search of Michael Corcoran’s Ireland

Michael Corcoran emigrated to the United States in 1849, shortly before his 22nd birthday. In the fourteen years that remained to him he became one of Irish-America’s most popular and influential leaders. Rising to Colonel of the 69th New York State Militia he notoriously refused to parade the regiment on the occasion of the Prince […]

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Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Murphy and Officers of the 170th New York Infantry, Corcoran's Irish Legion, 1863 (Library of Congress)

‘Transported to Fairyland': Christmas With Corcoran’s Irish Legion, 1862

Brigadier-General Michael Corcoran’s Irish Legion spent their first Christmas in the field at Newport News, Virginia in 1862. While the Army of the Potomac licked its wounds further north after the catastrophe of Fredericksburg, Corcoran’s brigade- yet to be inured to the horrors of combat- created an unforgettable festive atmosphere at their camp, where those who visited […]

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General Hospital No. 1 in Richmond where Sister Valentine wrote to Hugh McQuade's mother (Library of Congress)

‘It is Colonel Corcoran I Blame': An Unhappy Irishman After Bull Run

The Georgia Daily Constitutionalist received permission in July 1861 to publish a letter received by one of its Irish readers. It was a note from the Georgia Irishman’s brother, who had fought with the 69th New York State Militia at Bull Run and had been wounded in that battle. Although the authenticity, circumstances and motivations behind the […]

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The Battle of Deserted House, Virginia, 1863 (War of the Rebellion Atlas- Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections)

Baptism of Fire: The Corcoran Legion at Deserted House, Virginia, 30th January 1863

Formed in late 1862, the early war experience of Brigadier-General Michael Corcoran’s ‘Irish Legion’ is often forgotten. Their first major battles would not come until 1864, when they suffered severe casualties during Grant’s Overland Campaign. However, their initial taste of Rebel fire had come over a year earlier, on 30th January 1863. This engagement, which […]

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Officers of the 69th New York State Militia pose beside one of the guns in Fort Corcoran prior to the Battle of Bull Run (Library of Congress)

Captain James Haggerty 69th N.Y.S.M. and the Battle of Bull Run

Shortly before midday on 21st July 1861 Captain James Haggerty of the 69th New York State Militia splashed across Bull Run creek, Virginia with the just over 1000 Irishmen of his unit. He and his comrades were moving to add their weight to an attack on Confederate forces who were retreating from their position on […]

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The Funeral of General Michael Corcoran

Michael Corcoran was something of a celebrity in 1860s New York. The Co. Sligo native hit the headlines in 1860 when as Colonel of the 69th New York State Militia he refused to parade during the visit of the Prince of Wales. His court-martial had not occurred by the outbreak of the war, and at […]

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