Although proportionately very few Irish veterans of the American Civil War returned to Ireland after their service, hundreds did choose to do so. Up and down the island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries those who had served the Union could regularly be seen making their way to their local post offices for their American pensions. Some of them bore the tell-tale signs of the Civil War’s most infamous medical procedure–amputation. Indeed, it had likely been the horrendous injuries sustained on battlefields such as Fredericksburg and Antietam that had prompted their return. In a world where an inability to perform manual labour condemned many to penury, their return to Ireland offered them the potential of closer family support. The post that follows identifies some of these Civil War amputees, arranging their details alphabetically by county.
Ballykenver, Armoy: James Stewart, 1st Maryland Infantry. Right leg amputated following the Battle of Weldon Railroad, Virginia, 19th August 1864.
James was 23-years-old laborer when he enlisted in Company K at the Relay House, Maryland on 28th May 1861. Described as 5 feet 11 inches in height, with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion, he deserted outside Baltimore in June 1862. He voluntarily returned to the ranks in February 1864 and so was spared a court martial– on the understanding that he would complete the remaining time on his original enlistment and forfeit the pay due when he was away. This meant he had to serve through the Overland Campaign, where he sustained the wound that took his limb. The lower third of his right leg was removed following his injury, and became gangrenous, a death sentence for many men. Fortunately James’s leg responded to treatment and the Antrim native survived. His brother also seems to have served in the army– during his recovery he gave his gave his nearest relative as John Stewart who was stationed at Fort McHenry in the 2nd U.S. Artillery.
Carniny, Ballymena: Neal McIntyre, 10th Missouri Infantry. Left foot amputated following the Battle of Jackson, Mississippi, 14th May 1863.
Neal was 22-years-old when he enlisted in Company F of the regiment from Coultersville, Illinois on 1st August 1861. Prior to his service he had been working on a farm. Neal was 5 feet 10 inches tall with blue eyes, light hair and a fair complexion. He had been taken prisoner at the same time of his wounding at Jackson and later contracted measles when in hospital. He was discharged from the service at Annapolis, Maryland on 21st January 1864.
Larne, Co. Antrim: Michael Kinney, 8th United States Infantry? Right leg amputated, engagement to be determined.
Michael served in the Regular Infantry (most probably the 8th United States Infantry). His was an “Old War” pension, so he received his monies for disability that had occurred in service prior to the American Civil War. More work is required to ascertain the precise background to his wounding.
Ballyhoold [Ballyhooly?]: William Connor, 6th New York Heavy Artillery. Left arm amputated following wounding in front of Petersburg, Virginia, 20th June 1864.
William was a 43-year-old laborer when he enlisted in Cortlandt, New York on 21st August 1862. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. William received his wound on 20th June 1864 when he was shot in the arm, and the limb was subsequently amputated above the elbow. He was discharged for disability on 11th September 1865 at De Camp General Hospital in New York. William later spent time in the Eastern Branch of National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans at Togus, Maine prior to his return to Ireland.
Blackpool: George Church, 17th New York Infantry. Left arm amputated following Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, 1st September 1864.
George enlisted in Company G of the 17th New York Infantry on 25th September 1863. He was a 39-year-old laborer and described as being 5 feet 11 inches in height with a ruddy complexion and blue eyes. A man who matches his description had landed in New York aboard the Victory on 19th September 1863, suggesting that George had only been in America for a matter of days before joining up. After his wounding at Jonesboro his arm was amputated about two inches above the elbow. He was treated in the U.S. Government Hospital in Atlanta until October 1864, before moving to Central Park Hospital in New York where he was discharged from the military on 20th December 1864. The condition of his stump meant that he was not able to wear an artificial arm.
Having originally lived in New York City and later with his mother in East Dedham, Massachusetts, George also spent a part of the 1870s in the Eastern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans. He had returned to Ireland by 1879. In Blackpool he made his home at 83 York Street. When he died on 27th September 1890 he named his housemate Patrick O’Shea as his executor.
(With thanks to Breandán O’Rioghbhardain, Ann Marie Coghlan and Louise O’Connell for assistance in tracing George in Cork).
Castlemartyr: Michael Beaty, 149th New York Infantry. Right leg amputated following the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, 3rd May 1863.
Michael Beatty (sometimes Beatty, Bates or Baty) had enlisted in Syracuse, New York on 25th August 1862. The 23-year-old laborer became a private in Company C of the 149th New York Infantry. As his regiment held the line at the Battle of Chancellorsville on 3rd May 1863 Michael was struck by a bullet in the right leg. It led to amputation three inches below the knee. After the war he lived variously at 40 Fayette Street in Syracuse, in Albany, and at a number of National Homes for Disabled Veterans in different States. He likely came back to Ireland in the 1870s. After his death, his widow Norah received a pension based on his service.
1 Old Street, Queenstown (Cobh): John O’Leary, 8th United States Infantry. Left leg amputated following Seven Days Battles?, Virginia, 1862.
Born around 1832, John was a career soldier and former laborer. He had seen service in Company G of the 44th U.S. Infantry and during the Civil War served in Company A of the 8th U.S. Infantry. He was described as 5 feet 5 inches in height, with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. Before returning to Ireland he spent time in the Roseburg National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans. After his death, John’s widow Bridget received a pension based on his service.
Claggan Street, Straidarrow: John Mulberry, 145th Pennsylvania Infantry. Right Arm amputated following the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, 10th May 1864.
John was drafted into Company D on 29th September 1863. After his amputation he was transferred to Company F of the 53rd Pennsylvania, though he likely did not see service with them. After his death his widow received a pension based on his service.
Derry City: Patrick Forrester, 99th Pennsylvania Infantry. Left leg amputated following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 13th December 1862.
Patrick was born around 1837 and enlisted on 12th October 1861, serving in Company G. Following his injury he was discharged on 18th October 1863. Prior to returning home he spent time in the Central Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans in Dayton, Ohio. His widow received a pension after his death.
Derry City: Edward McGready, 4th New Jersey Infantry. Loss of finger in left hand, action not yet established, potentially Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 13th December 1862.
Edward enlisted in Company C on 13th August 1861. He was mustered out on 25th March 1863 at Chester, Pennsylvania. His pension application was granted in 1879.
Ballintra: William Cockburn, 2nd New Jersey Cavalry. Left leg amputated, possibly following the Battle of Egypt Station, Tennessee, 28th December 1864.
William Cockburn was a Commissary Sergeant in the 2nd New Jersey Cavalry. He enlisted on 7th August 1863 and was ultimately discharged on 9th June 1865. It is not clear what caused the wound which resulted in his amputation. It may have come at the Battle of Egypt Station, Tennessee in December 1864, when the regiment sustained heavy casualties. William was back in Ireland in the 1880s, and he may well be the William Cockburn recorded in the 1901 Census living in the townland of Ballymagrorty Scotch in Ballintra. The 75-year-old farmer lived with his sons William and George and their servant Mary Ann Kerr.
Edenmore, Mayobridge: Phaley Cunningham, 83rd Ohio Infantry. Left arm amputated, either following the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi in December 1862 or the Battle of Arkansas Post, Arkansas in January 1863.
Phaley Cunningham entered into service in Company C of the 83rd Ohio Infantry on 13th August, 1862 for three years. He was discharged on 9th March 1863 at Nashville, Tennessee on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability. The reason for his discharge was the loss of his left arm. Cunningham would eventually return home to Co. Down where he received a pension of $18.00 for his disability, payment of which started in December 1863. He died on 4th June 1888, and his widow Bridget subsequently received a pension.
Dublin City: Thomas Kelly, 69th New York Infantry. Left arm amputated following the Battle of Antietam, Maryland, 17th September 1862.
Thomas was born around 1824 and enlisted in the 69th on 5th October 1861. Following his amputation he was discharged in Frederick, Maryland on 13th December 1862. He had been a tailor by profession, and was married. Through the 1860s and 1870s he had various stints in the Central Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans before returning to Ireland. He died on 25th April 1904.
Dublin City: Louis Wilson, 17th New York Infantry. Right leg amputated at the thigh following the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, 1st September 1864.
Louis suffered his wound in the same regiment and at the same battle as George Wilson of Blackpool. He had first enlisted on 21st June 1861 in New York City and from September 1863 served as a Corporal in Company E of the 17th New York Veteran Infantry. Louis was a 26-year-old printer with blue eyes, dark hair and a fair complexion and was 5 feet 5 inches in height. The bullet at Jonesboro had struck him in the thigh. After his discharge he spent time in the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans Central Branch in Dayton, Ohio and the Eastern Branch in Togus, Maine. He returned to Ireland in the late 1870s or early 1880s, and died in North Dublin on 7th December 1886. After his death, his widow claimed a pension based on his service.
Rathangar [Rathangan?]: Patrick McCann, 145th Pennsylvania Infantry. Left arm amputated following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 13th December 1862.
Patrick enlisted in Company G of the 145th on 29th August 1862. His amputation did not end his service, as he was transferred to the 162nd Company, 2nd Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps on 15th January 1864 and remained with them until his discharge on 29th August 1865.
Ballinamore, Knockacullen: John McGlynn, 11th Massachusetts Infantry. Right arm amputated following the First Battle of Bull Run, 21st July 1861.
John was a 28-year-old blacksmith when he enlisted in Worcester in Company A of the 11th on 13th June 1861. His military career did not last long– he was wounded and captured at First Bull Run after which his right arm was amputated. The limb was taken off at the shoulder joint following a gun shot wound. He was discharged for disability on 31st January 1862 at Budd’s Ferry, Maryland. He afterwards served in the Veteran Reserve Corps. John spent various times in the 1860s and 1870s in the Eastern, Roseburg and Northwestern Branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans, listing his brothers Frank and Charles in Worcester as his next of kin.
Limerick City: John McKenny, 5th Connecticut Infantry. Right arm amputated following the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia, 20th July 1864.
John enlisted in Company D from Roxbury on 15th August 1863. After his amputation he was transferred to 93rd Company, 2nd Battalion of the Veteran Reserve Corps in March 1865 and then to the 20th Company in August 1865. His final discharge from the army came on 8th March 1866.
28 Athlunkard Street, Limerick City: John Welsh, 5th United States Cavalry. Loss of part of right index finger, cause to be established.
John also served in Company I of the 13th United States Infantry. He died on 22nd February 1923.
Drogheda: Thomas Beatty, 4th New York Heavy Artillery. Left leg Amputated following the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, 3rd June 1864.
Born around 1830, Thomas was receiving $18 per month in Drogheda in 1883. A private in the 4th New York Heavy Artillery, he had been struck by a bullet in the left leg during the assault on the Confederate works at Cold Harbor on 3rd June 1864. As a result the lower-third of his limb was removed. By 1864 he was an old soldier– he had spent the first two years of the war in Florida and Louisiana with the 6th New York Infantry, a unit in which he rose to Sergeant. At different times of his life Thomas had worked as a carman, boiler-maker and laborer. He spent some time in U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Veterans, listing his wife Anne back in Drogheda as his next-of-kin. He seems to have returned to Ireland in the 1880s.
Cloughatanny, Clara: Thomas Leap, U.S. Military Detachment West Point. Left foot amputated following fracture to leg.
Thomas was an American military amputee, but did not receive his injury in the Civil War. He was born around 1862 and was a career soldier, serving in the 1880s and 1890s. He was 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall, had blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. The cause of his fracture is unknown, but was likely accidental.
Donamon: James Cunniff, 35th New Jersey Infantry. Left leg amputated following an action with guerrillas at Meridian, Mississippi, February 1865.
James enlisted as a private in Company H on 17th August 1863. After his amputation he was discharged from Central Park U.S. General Hospital in New York on 4th June 1865. He died on 11th November 1909, possibly in Clonerfield, Mountbellew, Co. Galway. His widow afterwards successfully claimed a pension.
Skreen: Jasper Stafford, 170th New York Infantry, Corcoran’s Irish Legion. Right arm amputated following the Second Battle of Petersburg, Virginia, 16th June 1864.
Born around 1828, Jasper enlisted in New York on 10th September 1862, becoming a member of Company D. The 34-year-old laborer was described as 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall with blue eyes, brown hair and a sandy complexion.
Castlecaulfield, Co. Tyrone. Hugh O’Brien, 170th New York, Corcoran’s Irish Legion. Left leg amputated following the Second Battle of Petersburg, Virginia, 16th June 1864.
Hugh was born around 1830. He enlisted in New York on 20th September 1862 in what became Company C of the regiment. The laborer was described as being 5 feet 8 inches in height with black eyes, grey/brown hair and a light complexion. His leg was amputated at the foot following his wounding. Hugh spent time in Albany after the war and later was admitted to the Northwestern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans before his return to Ireland. His widow received a pension after his death.
Donaghmore: Patrick Connolly, 70th New York Infantry. Left foot Amputated following the Battle of Kettle Run, Virginia, 27th August, 1862.
Patrick had enlisted on 20th April 1861 from Newark, New Jersey. He rose to the rank of Corporal in Company K of the 70th New York Infantry, Excelsior Brigade. He was shot through the left ankle joint at the Battle of Kettle Run, Virginia on 27th August 1862 and was discharged on 13th August 1863. After the war he and his wife lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but Patrick also spent time in the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans. It is unclear when they returned to Ireland. His widow Sarah received a pension after his death.
Kilnaheery, Omagh: Mathew McNaull, USS Suwanee. Loss of right arm due to accident.
Mathew enlisted in Philadelphia on 9th January 1865 as a Landsman. The injury he sustained occurred when he was in the act of lowering a boat off Callao, Peru. He was discharged in January 1867. Married in his local Presbyterian Church, Mathew and his wife went on to have seven children.
Belline, Piltown: Peter Keefe, USS Perry. Left leg amputated at the knee following an attempted escape attempt, Columbia, South Carolina, April 1863.
Peter enlisted in the United States Navy in New York City on 12th October 1863 at the age of 23, becoming a Seaman on the Brig Perry. He was captured on Murrells Inlet, South Carolina while part of a shore party sent to burn a schooner. Confined to the Richland County Jail in Columbia, South Carolina, he was shot during an escape attempt and his left leg was amputated at the knee joint by Confederate surgeons. He lived in Albany in 1867, but before long had returned to Ireland. Peter died on 8th January 1900 in Corlohan, Co. Waterford. Peter’s story will be the subject of a more detailed post on the site in the future.
Waterford City: Richard Brooks, 72nd New York Infantry. Right thumb Amputated following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 13th December 1862.
Born in Co. Tipperary around 1832, Richard enlisted in Company C of the 72nd New York Infantry on 7th July 1861. The unit was part of the famed Excelsior Brigade. During the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia in the summer of 1862 he was struck by a shell, and at the Battle of Fredericksburg that December he was hit by a bullet. As a result of his injuries his right thumb was amputated. Richard served out the remainder of his term in the Veteran Reserve Corps, but his disability did not prevent further military service. In February 1867 he enlisted in the 44th United States Infantry, but was discharged in June 1868. He spent a period in a number of National Veteran Homes, but seems to have had a somewhat troubled time. He sometimes listed his brother John in New York City as his closest relative, and at other times noted that he had “no friends.” He likely returned to Ireland in the late 1870s.
Kilbillaghan, Creggan, Athlone: Thomas Duffy, 2nd New Jersey Cavalry. Right arm amputated following the Battle of Egypt Station, Mississippi, 28th December 1864.
Born around 1844, Thomas Duffy had served in Company A of the 69th New York State Militia. He later enlisted in the 2nd New Jersey Cavalry under the alias Thomas Ryan, joining them on 20th August 1863 at New Brunswick, New Jersey. A member of Company C, his injury was a gunshot wound to the right arm. After amputation (which was at the shoulder joint) he was discharged on 5th June 1865. Thomas, who characterised himself as a single farmer living in Pittsburgh (where his brother lived), spent time in the Central and Eastern Branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Veterans in Ohio and Maine during the late 1860s and 1870s, as he was unable to support himself. He appears to have returned to Ireland at some point in the late 1870s or early 1880s. Thomas appears to have lost his limb in the same action as William Cockburn.
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