Tag Archives: New York Irish-American
Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office, Washington DC. She helped many families learn the fate of their loved ones following the Civil War, but unfortunately Alexander Scarff's parents were not among them. (Photo by E.L. Malvaney)

A 150 Year Old Missing Persons Case- In Search of a 19-Year-Old Irishman

On 5th November 1862 ‘Arthur Shaw’, a 19-year-old Dubliner, stepped off the decks of the Great Western and into the hustle and bustle of New York City. From that day forward, his family never heard from him again. I have spent considerable time trying to piece together some elements of this boy’s story, aiming to uncover just who […]

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Lieutenant-General Phil Sheridan (Library of Congress)

How ‘Irish’ was Phil Sheridan?

I have had the good fortune to speak about the Irish in the American Civil War in many different parts of Ireland. When it comes to question-time, there is one topic that is almost always guaranteed to come up- General Phil Sheridan. This is unsurprising given his leading role as one of the key players […]

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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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An Example of the 'Information Wanted' Section in the New York Irish-American. This issue includes the ad placed by John Granfield's Mother. (Genealogy-Bank)

‘Any Information Will Be Most Thankfully Received by His Mother': Tracing Missing Irishmen in 1860s New York

Every week in the New York Irish-American a series of advertisements were run under the heading ‘Information Wanted.’ For $1 you could place a few carefully chosen lines in three issues of the paper, in the hope of finding a loved one. I find these ads some of the most emotive and powerful records of the […]

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The crew of the U.S.S. Colorado, another member of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron (Library of Congress)

‘Rather a Monotonous Affair': An Irishman on the Union Blockade

The Union navy often does not receive the attention it deserves when it comes to the American Civil War. This is particularly true of the Irish involvement; the Irish contribution to the Union navy was proportionately greater than that to Union armies. Of the 118,044 men who served as Union ‘Jacks’ during the war, some […]

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The area of Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg (Wikipedia)

In Search of Willie: Seeking John Mitchel’s Son After Pickett’s Charge

John Mitchel was an Irish revolutionary who had been deported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1848. He escaped to America in 1853 and settled initially in New York. Mitchel found himself increasingly disillusioned with the form of capitalism he felt was being practised in the Northern States, where large numbers of people lived in poverty. […]

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Federal Soldier Disembowelled by a Shell, Rose Woods, near The Wheatfield (Library of Congress)

Reporting the Gettysburg Casualties of the 63rd New York, Irish Brigade

The Irish Brigade went into action at Gettysburg on 2nd July 1863. They did their fighting in the Wheatfield, one of the most infamous sections of the battlefield. The already depleted brigade suffered some 200 casualties. One of  the brigade’s regiments that fought at Gettysburg was the 63rd New York Infantry. On 6th July the […]

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An unidentified soldier of the 5th New Hampshire Infantry (Library of Congress)

A Soldier’s Thoughts turn to Ireland- Petersburg, Virginia, 1864

In 1864 James McDonnell was a 27-year old Irishman serving in the 5th New Hampshire Infantry. His unit would end the war with the dubious distinction of having suffered more battle fatalities than any other Union regiment. James had not been an early volunteer- financially motivated, he enlisted as a draft substitute on 1st October […]

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