Author Archives | Damian Shiels
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The Other Bermuda Triangle: Invasion attempts in Ireland, America, and Bermuda

There is some superb research being undertaken into elements of the Irish diaspora at present, both at home and abroad. The site has been fortunate to feature a number of guest posts in the past highlighting some of this scholarly research. I am delighted to be able to share a fascinating post prepared for the site […]

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Turf being taken home in Kerry at the turn of the 20th century. A scene that would have been familiar to Charles (Library of Congress)

‘All Abouth Home’: An Illiterate Emigrant’s Letters from America to Kerry in the 1850s

As I often reiterate, the greatest value of the widows’ and dependents’ Civil War Pension Files lies not in what they contain about the American Civil War, but in what they tell us about 19th century Irish emigrants and emigration. There are few finer examples of this than the file associated with Charles Greaney. The […]

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The 1901 Census of Ireland entry for Charly Gallagher, a veteran of the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry- Click to go to original record (National Archives of Ireland)

Returned Americans: Identifying American Civil War Veterans on the Irish 1901 Census

The site has often explored the stories of American Civil War pensioners who returned to Ireland, and their dependents (see for example here, here and here). I usually carry out this research by looking through pension files to assess who was claiming from Ireland. But another means of uncovering some of these individuals is to examine […]

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A 49er on the American River (History of the United States)

‘Ireland at the Diggings’: The Irish of the California Gold Rush Celebrate Home, 1853

This site regularly explores aspects of the 19th century Irish emigrant experience in America beyond the Civil War. One of the most popular themes is the subject of the Irish in the West. Among the many topics touched upon have been The Voices of California’s Irish Pioneers, St. Patrick’s Day in the ‘Wild West’ and the experiences […]

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One of Fort Donelson's River Batteries (Hal Jesperson)

‘Beyond the Power of My Feeble Pen’: The Fate of a Limerick Octogenarian’s Sons in the West, 1862

Limerickman Patrick Vaughan had lived a long life by the 1860s. He was born sometime around 1783, the year that the conflict between the American Colonies and Britain had finally drawn to a close. When rebellion broke out in Ireland and French troops marched to their support in 1798, Patrick was a teenager. He was in his […]

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Irish in the American Civil War Needs Your Votes (Again!)

I am delighted to say that Irish in the American Civil War has been shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Blog Awards in the Arts & Culture category. This is the same category the site was fortunate enough to win in the 2015 Blog Awards, thanks in no small part to the many readers who voted for it. […]

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Chart of desertion rate in the 63rd New York Infantry, Irish Brigade, from 1861 to 1865 (Damian Shiels)

Charting Desertion in the Irish Brigade, Part 1

The Irish Brigade is rightly regarded as one of the finest units to take the field during the American Civil War. However, just like all other Union formations, they had their ups and down in battle, and like other formations, they suffered from desertion. In order to examine this in further detail I have taken the […]

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Portraits from the New York Irish-American Weekly: 1861

Every week the New York Irish-American brought it’s news to Irish readers not just in The Empire State, but all over the United States. Many Irish soldiers at the front remained loyal readers of the newspaper throughout the Civil War. From time to time, the Irish-American printed portraits and illustrations of famous Irish-Americans, Catholics and […]

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Punishment of Union soldiers, as depicted by Alfred Waud. In the case of Patrick Griffin, he was tied up by the thumbs, with his feet barely touching the ground, and gagged (Library of Congress)

Killed By Torture? The Story of an 18-Year-Old Irishman’s Death at the Hands of his Officers, New Orleans, 1865

In May 1860, 47-year-old Bridget Griffin stepped off the boat in the United States. Her husband John had died in their native Athlone in 1859, an event that likely precipitated her departure. With her was her 13-year-old son Patrick, a boy who grew to manhood during the years of the American Civil War. He would […]

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The Forgotten Irish Book: Cover and Contents

As many of you know, I have spent the majority of my writing time since the 2013 publication of The Irish in the American Civil War concentrating on one major source for the Irish experience of 19th century America, namely the widows and dependent pension files of Union soldiers and sailors. It soon became my intention to […]

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