A great many of the men interred at Andersonville National Cemetery died of illnesses associated with starvation and exposure. For those Irish within the camp who had endured the Great Famine, many of the ailments they saw must have seemed brutally familiar. Among them were causes like dropsy, dysentery, diarrhoea. It is a sad irony that some of those who succumbed to symptoms such as dropsy, dysentery and diarrhoea had only months before sent money to Ireland- in order to prevent precisely those conditions from developing there.
In 1863 fears that Ireland was on the brink of Famine led to international appeals to the diaspora for funds. Poor harvests for three consecutive years had left many destitute, and apparent disaster loomed. In response to the threat, relief committees that had previously been established to channel funds to assist the worst afflicted areas were reactivated. Irish American men and women in the war-torn United States responded quickly, and generously. There was a particularly strong reaction from serving Irish Americans in the Union military. This is a topic I have previously explored in these posts:
Irish Relief Fund: The Remarkable Contribution of Union Soldiers & Sailors
Naming Over 800 Union Soldiers Who Supported the Poor of Ireland
Among those men whom I have identified as contributing to the 1863 Relief of Ireland fund, at least six later died at Andersonville. There were undoubtedly many more. There is a particular pathos to the fact that some of them succumbed to the very same illnesses they hoped their donations would prevent in Ireland. Indeed as children and young men, some of them likely saw others die from precisely the same ailments during the Famine. I hope the project will identify more of the Andersonville victims who donated to the Irish fund, but some details about those currently identified follows below.
William Curran, 42nd New York Infantry
William is interred in Andersonville under the name William Carroll, though Curran appears to have been his real name. He was among a host of men in the ranks of the 42nd New York (Tammany) Regiment that donated to the Relief of Ireland fund, a number of whom died at Andersonville. Born in Ireland around 1826, William would have been a young adult at the time of the Great Famine. He enlisted aged 35 on 10th June 1861, having been a shoemaker in New York’s 18th Ward. He was an experienced soldier and veteran volunteer when he was captured at Petersburg on 22nd June 1864. He died of scurvy at Andersonville on 15th November 1864, 18 months after he had donated to the relief fund.
Garrett Hyde, 42nd New York Infantry
There are few details about Garrett’s life. He was 23-years-old when he enlisted on 19th June 1861 at Long Island, and was another who was captured at Petersburg on 22nd June 1864. He died of scurvy at Andersonville on 18th October 1864.
Michael Kenny, 42nd New York Infantry
Michael was sometimes recorded under the alias William Smith. He had enlisted in June 1861, and was also captured at Petersburg on 22nd June 1864. He was 25-years-old when he joined up, and had certainly been in Ireland during the Famine. While he was fading away from scurvy in Georgia his mother Bridget was still back in Fairhill, Galway City, where Michael had grown up. His father had died there in 1854. A cooper by trade, Michael had saved his earnings in Galway to pay for his passage to America, and had been sending his mother money home from the army before his capture. He died in Andersonville on 27th October 1864.
William Mulcahy, 42nd New York Infantry
William was from Co. Cork, and had been there during the awful years of the Great Famine. He and his mother had emigrated to New York after his father Bartholomew’s death in Ireland in 1854. Once in America they made their home in New York’s Mott Street, where William worked as a carpenter. He was 26-years-old when he enlisted in September 1861. His cause of death on 28th October 1864 was recorded as chronic diorrhoea.
William Stripp/Stupp, 42nd New York Infantry
Not everyone who had sympathy for the plight of the Irish poor in 1863 was from Ireland. William Stripp served among many Irish Americans in the Tammany Regiment, and was one of those who gave towards the aid of those from a land he had never set foot in. He was a native of Rossbach in Bavaria. A jewwller before joining up, he lived with his mother Elizabetha and invalided father Michael in New York. William had enlisted on 22nd June 1861 and was captured at Petersburg on 22nd June 1864. He was 23-years-old when he died at Andersonville on 11th November 1864. His cause of death was variously given as dropsy and scurvy.
John Harris, 63rd New York Infantry
John was from Co. Down, and was a 33-year-old labourer when he enlisted in the Irish Brigade in September 1861. He was captured at Bristoe Station, Virginia on 14th October 1863, and died at Andersonville on 13th August 1864.
If you have any information regarding Irish Americans interred at Andersonville, please contact us via the dedicated project email, andersonvilleirish[at]gmail.com.
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