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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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Age of Children at Father's Death in 1862

Visualising the Demographics of Death: 82 men of the 9th Massachusetts

The American Civil War killed hundreds of thousands of men, and devastated millions of lives. The industrialised battlefields of 1861-65 racked up casualty lists so huge that they become practically impossible to visualise- Fredericksburg 17,929; Shiloh 23,746; Gettysburg 51,000. The physical scale of such losses makes the overall ripple effect each death had on dependents […]

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Officers and men of the 9th Massachusetts (Library of Congress)

‘Before the Reaper’s Sickle’: The 9th Massachusetts at Gaines’ Mill

It is the 27th June 1862. Colonel Thomas Cass and the 9th Massachusetts Infantry have just retraced their steps under orders, marching back towards their old camping grounds near a mill and millpond that empties into Powhite Creek, Virginia. The men have fond memories of this pond, a spot where they have enjoyed relaxing swims […]

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