Maids draw water from a well, 1864. Johanna spent the majority of her life in domestice service in Ireland and America (Oscar Gustave Rejlander)

Johanna Barry: The Story of an Emigrant Domestic in Ireland & America, 1836-1916

On 17th September 1862, 27-year-old tailor Denis Barry from Dunmanway in West Co. Cork ventured into Antietam’s West Woods with the 19th Massachusetts Infantry. He never came out again. One ...

Engine House of the Mountain Mine, Allihies, West Cork. Many of the emigrants from where the O'Learys (and likely the Harringtons) hailed from were already part of mining communities (Peter Bell)

“I Will…Avenge His Death”: Shared Community, Life, & Death through the Battle of Chickamauga

The afternoon of 20th September 1863 found Privates Daniel Harrington and Denis O’Leary facing into a maelstrom. Fate and circumstance had placed them on the line at Chickamauga, as a ...

The second telegraph sent to the Callahans. Three days after the first, it informs them that Cornelius is dead (NARA/Fold3)

Document Focus: Life & Death at Antietam in Telegraphs

Cornelius Callahan was an early enlistee in the Union cause. He was barely 18-years-old when he volunteered in Philadelphia. A founder by trade, he was described as having a light ...


Looking into the Face of a Maimed Irish Soldier

At the close of the American Civil War, a photographer of the ...
Logo of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Wisconsin (Wikipedia)

Naming Erin Hills: 19th Century Irish Emigrants & the 2017 U.S. Open

Today the eyes of the golfing world are turned to Erin Hills ...
Clara Barton (Library of Congress)

The International Pension Crisis of 1893

I was very honoured recently to be asked to provide a guest ...

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A Milestone for Irish in the American Civil War

The last post represented the 500th on Irish in the American Civil War. I estimate that the site in its totality is now composed of c. 1,000,000 words. I established the site in May 2010, over seven years ago, little imagining where it would lead. The site is now averaging some 10-15,000 views per month, and between 80-100,000 unique […]

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A Native-American soldier in Union uniform during the Civil War (National Park Service)

Mexican War Veteran, Civil War Veteran, Indian Officer: An Athlone Man’s Quarter Century on the American Frontier

During the height of the 1880 Presidential Election Campaign, a reporter from the Democratic Cincinnati Daily Enquirer visited the Central Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans in Dayton, Ohio, to find out “What the veterans think about General Hancock.” The legendary former commander of the Army of the Potomac’s Second Corps was […]

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Californian Bear Flag. Originally a symbol of the Republic, bear flags were flown by some Californian supporters of Secession in the early part of the war (Wikipedia)

“You damned Yankee sons of bitches…can kiss my arse”: A Less than Loyal Irish Union Soldier in California

The site has previously explored Irish motivations in fighting for the North, as well as the widespread views many had towards Republicans, Abolitionists and African-Americans. Although the evidence is clear that many Irish soldiers were not in favour of emancipation, and were often politically opposed to the “black abolitionists”, the majority nonetheless continued the fight. […]

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73rd New York (2nd Fire Zouaves) Memorial, Gettysburg (Damian Shiels)

An Interview on John Banks’ Civil War Blog

For anyone familiar with the excellent John Banks’ Civil War Blog you will be familiar with how he makes extensive use of the widow’s pension files to tell the stories of those impacted by the American Civil War. I recently did an interview with John, discussing both my background and my ongoing work on the Irish in […]

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Orphans decorate the graves of their fathers, 1873 (Library of Congress)

Last Chevalier of Mulligan’s Irish Brigade: A Poem for Decoration Day

James E. Kinsella was born in Ireland in 1865 and emigrated with his parents to America in 1872. Settling first in New York the family later moved on to Chicago, where James eventually took a position as a clerk in the Registry Division of Chicago Post Office. James’s true passion appears to have been poetry, […]

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Unidentified New Hampshire Soldier in the Civil War (Library of Congress)

“Rather Than Hear My Father’s Tongue”: The Sad Story of Why William Flaherty Fought

In late 1863 the town of Plymouth, New Hampshire needed men. One way or another they had a quota of enlistments to fill, and in anticipation of the draft they determined to add financial incentives in order to meet it. In August Plymouth voted to pay every drafted man– or his substitute– a $300 bounty. These […]

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Annapolis National Cemetery (Damian Shiels)

A Walk Among Storied Tombstones: The Irish of Annapolis National Cemetery

Whenever I get an opportunity to visit the United States I always try to make it to one or more of the National Cemeteries dating to the American Civil War. I walk the long straight rows of white grave markers, looking out for Irish names, and pondering the events that led to the end of […]

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Men of the 3rd Rhode Island at Fort Pulaski in 1863 (Photographic History of the Civil War)

“Your husband was torn almost to pieces”: A Cork Woman Learns of her Roscommon Husband’s Death

The site regularly returns to the topic of letters written to inform families of the death of a loved one (see Communicating Death & Creating Memory on Fredericksburg’s Streets). As we have seen, these communications occasionally didn’t hold back in providing the gruesome details of an Irish emigrants demise (e.g. Imagining the Horrors of Death: […]

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"Answering the Emigrant's Letter", an 1850 painting by James Collinson, depicting an English family replying to correspondence from Australia (Manchester Art Gallery)

The Death of a Regular: Revealing an Ireland/New Jersey/Missouri Emigrant Network

The key focus of my research is on examining the letters of Irish emigrants in the Widows Pension Files. These letters, and the stories which surround them, have an incredible amount to tell us about Irish emigrant life. One of the most important aspects concerns how emigrants maintained communications both between Irish-American communities in the […]

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A young Illinois soldier in the Civil War (Library of Congress)

“Hoping you will not take it to heart”: The Final Days of an Irish-American Boy Soldier

The site has consistently returned to the many members of the Irish community in the United States whose nativity was neither Irish or American. Many of these Irish-Americans had been born during the process of step-migration, in places such as Britain and Canada. Thousands of such men fought during the conflict, and generally identified with the Irish-American […]

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