“She Hates Men”: An Interview With A Troubled Irish Famine Emigrant

Perhaps the greatest value of the Widow’s and Dependent Pension Files is in what they can tell us about the lives of female Irish emigrants in the 19th century. There ...

The Phelan Family Register (NARA/Fold3)

Document Focus: The Story of the Phelan Family Register

The last post (see here) was the first in a series called Document Focus, highlighting specific documents that are of interest in both their own right but also served a specific ...

The Corporal Warrant for Joseph Donovan (NARA/Fold3)

Document Focus: The Story of the Corporal’s Warrant

Many of the pension files I explore contain one or two particularly interesting documents or pieces of evidence. These tend to be historically eye-catching in their own right, but also ...

Spotlight

Hubert & Mary McNamara (Ruth Davis-Hastler)

Picturing the McNamaras: Images of the Irishman whose final letter home was cut from his body at Cold Harbor

On 2nd June 1864 Hubert McNamara of the 155th New York Infantry, ...
The Crater as it appeared in 1865 (Photographic History of the Civil War)

“I am so heartily sick of this life”: The Civil War Letter of Daniel Crowley, Part 3

I am pleased to bring to readers the third and final instalment ...
Europe Heat Map

Mapping Mainland Europe’s American Civil War Widows & Dependent Parents: An Online Resource

Over recent months I have been working on a major new resource ...

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The Forgotten Irish Event at the National Archives, Washington D.C., 16 March 2017 (Photo © Bruce Guthrie)

Video: Discussing Forgotten Irish Emigrants at the National Archives, Washington D.C.

Last week I had the great honour of taking part in a discussion and audience Q&A at the National Archives in Washington D.C. with Dr. Michael Hussey of NARA and Professor David Gleeson of Northumbria University. The event was followed by the American launch of my book The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America, […]

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“I am the Same Boy yet”: The Civil War Letters of Daniel Crowley, Part 2

The site welcomes back Catherine Bateson of the University of Edinburgh for the second in her series on the 1864 letters of Cork native Daniel Crowley, who served in the 28th Massachusetts Infantry, Irish Brigade (read the first post here). As the regiment pushes on to Petersburg, Daniel writes home of hand-to-hand combat, on his […]

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The Green House in Midleton (Damian Shiels)

Exploring the 1867 Fenian Rising in Cork

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the 1867 Fenian Rising in Ireland. Though the attempt ended in failure, it played an important role in influencing future revolutionaries who undertook the 1916 Rising. East Cork, where I live, was one of the areas of the country where some of the most significant disturbances took place. […]

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Scotland 1883 Pensioners

Mapping Scotland’s 19th Century American Military Pensioners

As part of my continuing work on Civil War pension files, I returned again to Scotland (for my previous work on Scots in the Civil War see here and here), to comprehensively map all the American Pensioners in Scotland recorded in the 1883 List of Pensioners on the Roll. In 1882 Congress instructed that this list […]

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The fields over which the Union assault on the Mule Shoe salient took place at Spotsylvania, as dawn breaks on the 150th anniversary of the battle, 12th May 2014 (Damian Shiels)

“…I don’t care about dancing on the bodies of dead men”: The Civil War letters of Daniel Crowley, Part 1

Friend of the site Catherine Bateson of the University of Edinburgh has previously contributed a guest post on her work relating to Irish Songs in the American Civil War. I am delighted to welcome her back, this time to share some research she has carried out on the fascinating letters of Daniel Crowley, a young Cork […]

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“The Forgotten Irish” Event at The National Archives, Washington D.C.

As many readers of the site will be aware, the majority of my work concentrates on material from the widows’ and dependent pension files of Irish Civil War soldiers held in the National Archives, Washington D.C. This was also the source material on which my new book The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America […]

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Inscription on package of letters in James Nugent pension file (NARA/Fold3)

“Tell Poor Mama”: Draft Riots & Texas Prisons– Letters From The Gulf Blockade

In 1895, thirty years after the end of the American Civil War, Ann Nugent went in search of a pension. The 75-year-old Irish emigrant had lost her son James to the conflict in 1864. A Second Class Boy aboard the USS Granite City, he had been just 16-years-old when he had joined up, and only a year older […]

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Podcast: Beyond the Irish Brigade with The Rogue Historian

Last week I had a conversation with Dr. Keith Harris who runs The Rogue Historian website and podcast. Keith will be known to many readers for his very well-received book Across the Bloody Chasm: The Culture of Commemoration among Civil War Veterans published by LSU Press. We spent what was for me a Cork evening […]

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An Appeal for Civil War Descendants

I have been involved of late in assisting Mind the Gap films here in Ireland with a proposal to examine the Irish of the American Civil War, particularly with information in the pension files. Mind the Gap are eager to hear from descendants of Irish emigrants who served during the conflict, and have asked me to […]

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Cork Harbour as it appeared in the early 1870s (Library of Congress)

“My Cousin told me…that all my family were in America”: A Search for 1860s Cork Emigrants

The widows and dependent pension files often give us an extraordinary insight into 19th century emigration. Occasionally these are from the perspectives of those who remained in Ireland. I recently came across just such a letter, written in late 1863 by Dan McCarthy in Cork to his brother Ted in America. Its detail reveals just how […]

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