Author Archives | Damian Shiels
U.S. In Ireland during WW1

Over Here: Researching U.S. Military in Ireland during World War One

Although the main focus of this site is (and will remain) the Irish experience of the American Civil War, I thought readers may also be interested in some work I am conducting on a later aspect of the U.S. military, exploring the impact on Ireland of the thousands of Americans who were stationed here during […]

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Kieran Phelan (NARA/Fold3)

Whats in an Alias: Civil War Widowhood, Remembrance & Identity in the Words of an “Old Irishwoman”

On 6th September 1864, Private Kieran Fitzpatrick of the 11th Connecticut Infantry lost his battle for life at the 18th Corps Hospital in Point of Rocks, Virginia. His wife Elizabeth sought a widow’s pension based on his service; a lack of documentation meant it would be 1869 before she received it. Then, 35-years after her husband’s death, […]

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Irish in the American Civil War YouTube

Video: Diaspora Ireland- Cobh & The American Civil War

I recently decided to launch a YouTube Channel associated with this page. My intention is to explore sites in Ireland specifically from the perspective of the diaspora, and to explain something of these diaspora connections to viewers. This weekend we travelled to Cobh (formerly Queenstown) in Co. Cork, Ireland’s main emigrant port, to discuss some of the town […]

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"Ships in Fog, Gloucester, Massachusetts". Painted by Fitz Henry Lane in 1860, the same year John began his fishing career in Gloucester. Currently part of the Princeton University Art Museum (Fitz Henry Lane)

“As If they Were Shooting Ducks:” An Irish Nova Scotian Gloucester Fisherman at War

Many of the Canadians who fought in the American Civil War were of Irish ancestry, often members of families who had first made their homes in British North America before slowly moving down to the United States. In the early 1850s the Cunningham family made the move from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia to Gloucester, […]

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The Famine Irish

The Famine Irish: Emigration and The Great Hunger

Back in 2013 I was privileged to speak at the Third Annual International Famine Conference at Strokestown Park House, Co. Roscommon. The theme of the event was The Famine Irish: Emigration and New Lives, and it was an excellent couple of days. The focus of my paper was to examine the impact of the American Civil […]

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The grave of Andrew Power Gallway at Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Baton Rouge (Diane, Find A Grave)

“The Lives of Her Exiled Children Will be Offered in Thousands”: Edward Gallway, Fort Sumter & Foreseeing the Cost of Civil War

The first soldier to lose his life in the American Civil War was Daniel Hough, a former farmer from Co. Tipperary. The unfortunate man died following an accidental explosion that took place while the Fort Sumter garrison fired a salute to the flag following their surrender. That explosion wounded a number of other men, and within days Hough […]

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Gold miners in California in the late 1840s or early 1850s. Irish flocked from not only the United States but also from Ireland and Australia to participate (Library of Congress)

“I Saw San Francisco When it Was Only a Village”: The Voices of California’s Irish Pioneers

Laurence Macken was born in Slane, Co. Meath on 12th May 1828. In 1850 he was a young man just three days shy of his 22nd birthday when he landed in the California Territory, one of the thousands of emigrants and natives alike who had been infected by the gold fever that had spread like wildfire throughout […]

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Fifth Street, Leavenworth, Kansas as it appeared in 1867.

“I was Forewarned by a Dream”: 1860s Emigrant Letters between Kansas & Kerry

On 3rd September 1863 Private John Shea of the 1st Kansas Infantry, Company B, died of Chronic Diarrhoea at Natchez General Hospital in Mississippi, having fallen sick just over a week before. The pension file his mother subsequently claimed based on his death centres around a series of letters written home to Ireland by John […]

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Captain Thomas David Norris, 170th New York Infantry, Corcoran's Irish Legion, and veteran of the 69th New York State Militia at the First Battle of Bull Run. Perhaps the most major advocate of the Irish language to serve during the American Civil War (New York State Military Museum).

“A Few Spoke Nothing But Gaelic”: In Search of the Irish Language in the American Civil War

In Philadelphia on 13th February 1868, Owen Curren and Mary Curren gave an affidvait relating to the case of Farrigle Gallagher. Gallagher, a member of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, had died a Prisoner of War at Andersonville. His wife Anne survived him by less than 6 months, dying– likely of T.B.– in December 1864. The […]

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Holloway's Ointment & Pills, the "Soldier's True Friend," New York, 1862 (Library of Congress)

War Prices! War Prices! Advertisements Aimed at Irish Soldiers & their Families from the American Civil War

We live in an age of seemingly incessant and increasingly intrusive advertising. In a world where algorithms monitor our online browsing to offer us individually tailored ads, it is easy to consider opportunistic advertisement as a relatively modern phenomenon. Of course that is not necessarily the case. A review of advertisements from periods like the 1860s demonstrates just […]

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