United States Release for Irish in the American Civil War Book

I am delighted to announce that my book, The Irish in the American Civil War, will officially become available in the United States from the 1st May. Originally published for the Irish market last year, you can already order it online from vendors such as amazon.com. When it first came out I provided a brief overview of its contents, which I recap on below, in case you want to find out whats in it!

The Irish in the American Civil War (History Press Ireland)

The Irish in the American Civil War (History Press)



Looks at the scale of Irish participation in the American Civil War, its links to the Famine generation, and why it is not better remembered in Ireland.



  • The duel that almost changed history 

The story of James Shields and the duel he challenged Abraham Lincoln to in 1842.

  • Witness to the first shots

The story of Commander Stephen Rowan and his ship the USS Pawnee at Fort Sumter in 1861.

  • The Irish at Sumter 

Explores Irish involvement in the army before the war and in events such as John Browns Raid, before looking at the Irish who were in the Sumter garrison in 1861.

  • Facing the first battle 

The story of three Irishmen and their different experiences of First Bull Run, and the subsequent effect it had on them and their families.

  • Recruiting for the Irish Brigade

Why would the Irish fight for the Union? Examining the motivations of Irishmen in New York through a speech given by Thomas Francis Meagher at the Academy of Music in 1861.

  • Following them home

Who made up green-flag regiments? This chapter looks at that question, using the 23rd Illinois Infantry as a case study.



  • A Yankee and Rebel at Antietam

Two Irishmen led their regiments towards the Cornfield at Antietam. Both Irish, one was a Yankee and one a Rebel- neither would survive the experience.

  • Slaughter in Saunders’ Field

The American Civil War presented an opportunity for industrial killing on a frightening scale, where large numbers of men could be wiped out in moments. This was what the Irish 9th Massachusetts experienced at Saunders’ Field, The Wilderness in May 1864.

  • Blood on the Banner

The story of Thomas Plunkett of the 21st Massachusetts, grievously wounded at Fredericksburg, but who went on to become an important symbol of the Massachusetts war effort.

  • Death of a General

Patrick Cleburne remains largely unknown in Ireland. This tells the story of his final moments, when he lost his life at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee in November 1864.

  • The last to fall

No less a person than George Meade held Thomas Alfred Smyth as one of his finest Generals. This briefly tells his story, and how he became the last Union General to die in the American Civil War.

  • An Irishman in Andersonville

The story of Michael Dougherty, later a Medal of Honor recipient, who kept a diary in Andersonville and also survived the Sultana disaster.



  • Killed by his Own

Looks at the reasons behind the New York Draft Riots, Irish involvement, and the death of one Irishman, Colonel Henry O’Brien, in horrendous circumstances.

  • Confederates in Ireland

The Confederate government sent a number of agents to operate in Ireland to prevent recruitment into the Union army. This looks at their efforts, techniques and the men involved.

  • The Queenstown Affair

When the USS Kearsarge anchored in Queenstown (now Cobh), Co. Cork in 1863, she sparked a diplomatic incident through allegations of illegal recruitment. For one Irishman the visit would change the course of his life.

  • The Civil War with Canvas and Camera

Not all Irishmen at the front were combatants. This tells the story of photographer Timothy O’Sullivan and Special Artist Arthur Lumley who used their talents to bring the war to the Home Front.

  • Jennie Hodgers and Albert Cashier

The remarkable story of Jennie Hodgers, who served as Albert Cashier in the 95th Illinois and kept up her male identity until well into the twentieth century.

  • The Irish ‘Florence Nightingales’

Looks at some of the Irish laywomen who went to the front to help with the war effort, such as Bridget Diver of Custer’s Wolverines, and Mary Sophia Hill of the Louisiana brigade.



  • Mingle my Tears

The cost of the war for many families at home was huge. This looks at how a number of families sought to cope with the loss of their loved ones at the front and the effect it had on their lives.

  • The price of gallantry

The consequences of the war could last for decades. This looks at wounded veterans, both physically and mentally, and the pain that the war could still cause long after the guns fell silent.

  • Hunting Lincoln’s Killer

Roscommon man Jame Rowan O’Beirne was in the room when Lincoln died, and was charged with hunting down John Wilkes Booth, a job he carried out diligently. This is his story.

  • The passage of years

How did old veterans remember the war as the years passed? How did the Irish community seek to remember these honoured veterans? This looks at these efforts as the numbers of veterans dwindled into the twentieth century.

  • Back to the stone wall

24 years after their heroic defence of the stone wall at Gettysburg, the 69th Pennsylvania returned to erect a memorial to their fallen comrades, and to meet some of their former foes. This is the story of that occasion.



Looks at JFK’s presentation of an Irish Brigade flag to the Irish people in 1963, and the future of remembrance of the American Civil War in Ireland.


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Categories: Media, Update

Author:Damian Shiels

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

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15 Comments on “United States Release for Irish in the American Civil War Book”

    April 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Looking forward to getting your book. I’ve been a US Civil war buff for many years and have Visited many of the battlefields.

    My family is from Dunquin at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula. Although my grandfather left Dunquin in the early 1900 I noticed family members were leaving Ireland to the same area Springfield, Mass even on the 1840s. Some of the fought in The US Civil War.

    One of your recent stories I saw a possible family connection to Feriter the soldier that replaced the guard that fell asleep on guard duty that was pardoned. I have some Feriters in my family Tree and his second wife may have been related.

    Keep up the good work.


    Sent from my iPhone


    • April 22, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Hi Joe,

      Many thanks! There would have been huge participation from that part of Kerry in the war given the impact of the Famine on the county. I would be keen to hear if you can confirm the connection!

      Kind Regards,


  2. Marsha
    April 17, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    Congratulations! Thanks for all this work. My gr-grandfather was from County Clare, was a Pvt from 99th Illinois Infantry and fought in the Civil War. He became sick at Vicksburg and left the fighting. I have his meager military paper records and pension papers.

  3. Michael H.j. Kane Pittsburgh (Southside) Pa.
    April 17, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Damien: I already ordered and received a copy via Amazon about ten days ago—circa April 10 , 1914….Very interesting overview of the Irish…in the civil war…..Best I’ve seen so far in 150 years……..5 Stars!

    • April 22, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Hi Michael,

      Excellent I am glad to hear that and really delighted to hear you enjoyed it, that is good news!

      Kind Regards,


  4. April 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Fantastic news Damian, and can I wish you continued success with your work. Your dedication and meticulous research coupled with your own unique style, has brought to life these events in the combined Irish American history and there’s more than myself who are grateful. Thank you.

    • April 22, 2014 at 10:34 am #

      Thanks :-) The same goes for the work you are doing- it really is addictive stuff!

  5. April 17, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Well done Damian,

    We hope to publish your book and article soon!


    • April 22, 2014 at 10:34 am #

      Hi Wayne,

      Many thanks and delighted to hear that- looking forward to seeing the piece!

      Kind Regards,


  6. April 18, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    Congratulations – it looks like your books is varied and interesting. I’ll be looking for it.

    • April 22, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Thank you! I would be keen to hear what you think of it!

  7. April 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    A wonderful achievement…all the hard work has paid off! Hope the book does really well in the USA and we look forward to the next one!

  8. LongIslandMichael
    June 5, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    Looks really good. How can I get a copy? Will it be available on Amazon?

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