Although some 170,000 Irishmen served during the American Civil War, it is extremely difficult to gain a picture of what service was like for them across a broad spectrum. This is a symptom of the fact that for the majority of Irish troops their wartime experience occured outside ethnic Irish units. I have been considering for some time how to meaningfully address this, in order to explore a range of men from across different branches of the military. With that in mind I have decided to delve further into the lives and experiences of the Irish-born men who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions during the American Civil War.

Civil War Era Army Medal of Honor (United States Army)

Civil War Era Army Medal of Honor (United States Army)

To date 146 Civil War Medal of Honor recipients have been identified as Irish-born. Of this number, fewer than twenty served in what might be called ethnic ‘Irish’ regiments (although others undoubtedly served in Irish companies). All branches of the service are represented among their number, which encompasses the infantry, artillery and cavalry and crosses the regular/volunteer divide. It also includes fifty naval recipients, an area where little study of the Irish has taken place. Although not without its limitations, examining these 146 men as a group offers a window into the wider Irish experience of the conflict.

I envisage the project being a long-term undertaking. Although the actions for which each of these men were awarded the Medal of Honor will be examined, this and their wartime service will form only one part of the exercise. it is worth remembering that the period between 1861 and 1865 was but one aspect of these mens lives. Among the questions I will be seeking to explore are the following:

  • When and where were they born?
  • When did they emigrate?
  • What was their social standing and how did this change? (I intend to deal with officers and other-ranks seperately)
  • Were they married, if so when and where, did they have children?
  • Where did they live in the United States before and after the war?
  • What was their pre and post-war occupation?
  • What was the nature of their wartime service?
  • Were they enlisted/drafted?
  • Were they injured, maimed, killed during the conflict?
  • Did they suffer from physical or psychological trauma in post-war years?
  • Were they remembered/honoured for their service or award during their lifetime?
  • Did they record any of their experiences in the post-war years, and if so what do they reveal?
  • Were they active in the GAR/Medal of Honor societys and did they attend reunions?
  • When and where did they die and where are they buried?
  • How are they remembered today (if at all)?

I expect that this list of research questions will grow over time, and clearly for many of the men it will not be possible to answer many of the queries posed. In order to undertake the project I will be looking at sources such as pension records, census information, service details, unit histories and contemporary newspapers, among others. The project is ambitious, but if even partially successful would fulfill a desire I have long held to look at a range of Irishmen and their families across a wide spectrum of wartime experience.

I hope that readers can be of assistance in this undertaking, by spreading the word regarding the project; I am also eager to receive any information you may have that you think may add to it, all of which would be greatly received (and fully acknowledged in any project output). I am also interested in hearing your thoughts regarding the current research questions and suggestions on any you feel might be added. I am looking forward to getting started!

The current list of known Irish-born Medal of Honor recipients is below. I will soon be adding a dedicated page to the site specifically for the project- if you would like to contact me concerning it please email me at

Name Unit Action
Ahern, Michael Kearsarge Cherbourg, France
Allen, James 16th NY Inf. South Mountain, Md.
Anderson, Robert Keokuk Charleston, S.C.
Barry, Augustus 16th US Inf. Various
Bass, David L. Minnesota Fort Fisher, N.C.
Begley, Terrence 7th NY Hvy Arty. Cold Harbor, Va.
Blackwood, William 48th PA. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Bradley, Charles Louisville Various
Brannigan, Felix 74th NY Inf. Chancellorsville, Va.
Brennan, Christopher Mississippi Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
Brosnan, John 164th NY Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Brown Jr., Edward 62nd NY Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Burk, Michael E. 125th NY Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Burke, Thomas 5th NY Cav. Hanover Courthouse, Va.
Byrnes, James Louisville Various
Campbell, William 30th OH Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Carey, Hugh 82nd NY Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Casey, David 25th MA. Inf. Cold Harbor, Va.
Cassidy, Michael Lackawanna Mobile Bay, Al.
Colbert, Patrick Commodore Hull Plymouth, N.C.
Collis, Charles H.T. 114th PA. Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Conboy, Martin 37th NY Inf. Williamsburg, Va.
Connor, Thomas Minnesota Fort Fisher, N.C.
Connors, James 43rd NY Inf. Fisher’s Hill, Va.
Cooper, John Brooklyn Mobile Bay, Al.
Cooper, John Brooklyn Mobile Bay, Al.
Corcoran, Thomas E. Cincinnati Vicksburg, Miss.
Cosgrove, Thomas 40th MA. Inf. Drury’s Bluff, Va.
Creed, John 23rd IL. Inf. Fisher’s Hill, Va.
Cullen, Thomas 82nd NY Inf. Bristoe Station, Va.
Curran, Richard 33rd NY Inf. Antietam, Md.
Delaney, John C. 107th PA. Inf. Dabny’s Mills, Va.
Donoghue, Timothy 69th NY Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Doody, Patrick 164th NY Inf. Cold Harbor, Va.
Doolen, William Richmond Mobile Bay, Al.
Dougherty, Michael 13th PA. Cav. Jefferson, Va.
Dougherty, Patrick Lackawanna Mobile Bay, Al.
Downey, William 4th MA. Cav. Ashepoo River, S.C.
Drury, James 4th VT. Inf. Weldon Railroad, Va.
Dunphy, Richard D. Hartford Mobile Bay, Al.
English, Edmund 2nd NJ Inf. Wilderness, Va.
Fallon, Thomas T. 37th NY Inf. Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Va.
Flood, Thomas Pensacola Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
Flynn, Christopher 14th CT. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Ford, George W. 88th NY Inf. Sailors Creek, Va.
Fox, Nicholas 28th CT. Inf. Port Hudson, La.
Gardner, William Galena Mobile Bay, Al.
Gasson, Richard 47th NY Inf. Chapins Farm, Va.
Ginley, Patrick 1st NY Light Arty. Reams Station, Va.
Gribben, James H. 2nd NY Cav. Sailors Creek, Va.
Haley, James Kearsarge Cherbourg, France
Harrington, Daniel Pocahontas Brunswick, Ga.
Havron, John H. 1st RI. Light Arty. Petersburg, Va.
Highland, Patrick 23rd IL. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Horan, Thomas 72nd NY Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Hinnecan, William Agawam Fort Fisher, N.C.
Horne, Samuel B. 11th CT. Inf. Fort Harrison, Va.
Howard, Martin Tacony Plymouth, N.C.
Hudson, Michael Brooklyn Mobile Bay, Al.
Hyland, John Signal Red River, La.
Irwin, Patrick 14th MI. Inf. Jonesboro, Ga.
Jones, Andrew Chickasaw Mobile Bay, Al.
Jones, William 73rd NY Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Kane, John 100th NY Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Keele, Joseph 182nd NY Inf. North Anna River, Va.
Kelley, John Ceres Hamilton, N.C.
Kelly, Thomas 6th NY Cav. Front Royal, Va.
Kennedy, John 2nd US Arty. Trevilian Station, Va.
Keough, John 67th PA. Inf. Sailors Creek, Va.
Kerr, Thomas R. 14th PA. Cav. Moorefield, W.Va.
Lafferty, John Wyalusing Roanoke River, N.C.
Laffey, Bartlett Marmora Yazoo City, Miss.
Logan, Hugh Rhode Island Mobile Bay, Al.
Lonergan, John 13th VT. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Madden, Michael 42nd NY Inf. Masons Island, Md.
Mangam, Richard C. 148th NY Inf. Hatchers Run, Va.
Martin, Edward S. Galena Mobile Bay, Al.
Martin, James Richmond Mobile Bay, Al.
Martin, William Varuna Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
McAdams, Peter 98th PA. Inf. Salem Heights, Va.
McAnally, Charles 69th PA. Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
McCarren, Bernard 1st DE. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
McCormick, Michael Signal Red River, La.
McEnroe, Patrick H. 6th NY Cav. Winchester, Va.
McGough, Owen 5th US Arty. Bull Run, Va.
McGowan, John Varuna Fts. Jackson & St. Philip, La.
McGraw, Thomas 23rd IL Inf. Petersburg, Va.
McGuire, Patrick IL Light Arty. Vicksburg, Miss.
McHale, Alexander U. 26th MI Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
McHugh, Martin Cincinnati Vicksburg, Miss.
McKee, George 89th NY Inf. Petersburg, Va.
McKeever, Michael 5th PA. Cav. Burnt Ordinary, Va.
Molloy, Hugh Fort Hindman Harrisonburg, La.
Monaghan, Patrick 48th PA. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Montgomery, Robert Agawam Fort Fisher, N.C.
Moore, Charles Marblehead Legareville, S.C.
Morrison, John G. Carondelet Yazoo River, Miss.
Morton Charles W. Benton Yazoo River, Miss.
Mulholland, St. Clair A. 116th PA. Inf. Chancellorsville, Va.
Mullen, Patrick Wyandanak Mattox Creek, Virginia
Murphy, Dennis J.F. 14th WI. Inf. Corinth, Miss.
Murphy, John P. 5th OH. Inf. Antietam, Md.
Murphy, Michael C. 170th NY Inf. North Anna River, Va.
Murphy, Patrick Metacomet Mobile Bay, Al.
Murphy, Thomas C. 31st IL. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Murphy, Thomas J. 146th NY Inf. Five Forks, Va.
Nolan, John J. 8th NH Inf. Georgia Landing, La.
Nugent, Christopher Fort Henry Crystal River, Fl.
O’Beirne, James R. 37th NY Inf. Fair Oaks, Va.
O’Brien, Peter 1st NY Cav. Waynesboro, Va.
O’Connell, Thomas Hartford Mobile Bay, Al.
O’Connor, Timothy 1st US Cav.
O’Dea, John 8th MO. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
O’Donnell, Menomen 11th MO. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Platt, George C. 6th US Cav. Fairfield, Pa.
Plunkett, Thomas 21st MA. Inf. Fredericksburg, Va.
Preston, John Onieda Mobile Bay, Al.
Quinlan, James 88th NY Inf. Savage Station, Va.
Rafferty, Peter 69th NY Inf. Malvern Hill, Va.
Rannahan, John Minnesota Fort Fisher, N.C.
Reynolds, George 9th NY Inf. Winchester, Va.
Riley, Thomas 1st LA. Cav. Fort Blakely, Al.
Roantree, James S. Onieda Mobile Bay, Al.
Robinson, John H. 19th MA. Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.
Robinson, Thomas 81st PA. Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Ryan, Peter J. 11th IN. Inf. Winchester, Va.
Scanlan, Patrick 4th MA. Cav. Ashepoo River, S.C.
Schutt, George Hendrick Hudson St. Marks, Fl.
Sewell, William J. 5th NJ Inf. Chancellorsville, Va.
Shields, Bernard 2nd WV Cav. Appomattox, Va.
Smith, William Kearsarge Cherbourg, France
Spillane, Timothy 16th PA. Cav. Hatchers Run, Va.
Stewart, Joseph 1st MD. Inf. Five Forks, Va.
Sullivan, Timothy Louisville Various
Tobin, John M. 9th MA. Inf. Malvern Hill, Va.
Toomer, William 127th IL. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Tyrrell, George William 5th OH. Inf. Resaca, Ga.
Urell, M. Emmett 82nd NY Inf. Bristoe Station, Va.
Walsh, John 5th NY Cav. Cedar Creek, Va.
Welch, Richard 37th MA. Inf. Petersburg, Va.
Wells, Thomas M. 6th NY Cav. Cedar Creek, Va.
Welsh, Edward 54th OH. Inf. Vicksburg, Miss.
Welsh, James 4th RI Inf. Petersburg, Va.
White, Patrick H. IL Light Arty. Vicksburg, Miss.
Williams, William Lehigh Charleston, S.C.
Wilson, Christopher W. 73rd NY Inf. Spotsylvania, Va.
Wright, Robert 14th US Inf. Chapel House Farm, Va.

*Names in italics represent naval vessels