‘Irish Molly’ at Antietam

Robert McLernon has studied the Irish Brigade for 25 years and has kindly supplied some of his research for this and some future posts. The following extracts refer to an Irish woman who followed the Brigade and most particularly the 88th New York Regiment, of which her husband was a member. As the Brigade charged the Bloody Lane at Antietam this ‘Irish Molly’ stood with the men and cheered on the troops.

Thomas Livermore of the 5th New Hampshire recalled:

I was told, too, that a woman, who followed the Irish Brigade as laundress or nurse, went up with it, and standing with it in the fight, swung her bonnet around and cheered on the men.’

Charles C. Hale also of the 5th New Hampshire described the scene in more detail:

‘As our first brigade was forming to relieve them, (Meagher’s Irish Brigade attacking the Sunken Road) we saw “Irish Molly,” of the 88th New York, a big, muscular woman who had followed her husband in all the campaigns, and he a private soldier in the ranks. She was a little to the left of their line, apparently indifferent to the flying bullets, and was jumping up and down, swinging her sunbonnet around her head, as she cheered the Paddys on. Our regiment was maneuvering for position at the time, and the bullets that passed the Irishmen were pretty thick, so there was no time for anything else, as we were moving lively, but the glimpse that I got of that heroic woman in the drifting powder smoke, stiffened my back-bone immensely.’


Livermore, Thomas. Days and Events (5th New Hampshire)

Hale, Charles C. The Story of  My Personal Experience at the Battle of Antietam (Company C, 5th New Hampshire Volunteers)

Post Research by Robert McLernon


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Categories: Battle of Antietam, Civil War Women, Guest Post, Pennsylvania

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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