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The fighting on Chinn Ridge at Second Bull Run as drawn by Edwin Forbes (Library of Congress)

“Mike, The Color Bearer”: How a Famine Emigrant Became an American on the Battlefields of Virginia

On the afternoon of 30th August 1862, the outcome of the Battle of Second Bull Run hung in the balance. James Longstreet’s Corps had been hurled against the Union left, and desperate fighting broke out along a key portion of the field known as Chinn Ridge. As Federal officers sought to buy time to organize […]

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“I want to see you before I die”: Last Letters of Ulster Emigrants in American Civil War Pension Files

Two years ago I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Ulster-American Heritage Symposium in Athens, Georgia. The Symposium alternates between Ireland and North America every two years, and this year was back at its spiritual home, the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster-American Folk Park outside Omagh, Co. Tyrone. I was […]

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The grave of First Sergeant William Jones, Fredericksburg National Cemetery. A native of Wicklow. (Damian Shiels)

A Walk Among Storied Tombstones: Some Irish Dead in National Cemeteries

In 2014 I was fortunate enough to walk a number of the Eastern Theater battlefields of the American Civil War. I took the time to visit some of the National Cemeteries along the way, at places like Cold Harbor, Glendale, Fredericksburg and Antietam. Military cemeteries are fascinating places. The National Cemeteries created out of the […]

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Cavan and the American Civil War

Major Event in Cavan to Remember the American Civil War

I regularly come across Cavan natives during my pension file research. They are men Like James DeLacy of Templeport, who left behind a dependent mother when he was gunned down along with many of his Irish Brigade comrades at Antietam; men like Mathew Henry of Lattoon, whose immigrant experience in America was cut short when […]

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Cavan

The #ForgottenIrish of Co. Cavan

The latest #ForgottenIrish story concentrating on Cavan is now available on Storify. It joins Cork, Kerry, Donegal and Galway on Storify, with Sligo to follow shortly. Storify also has a piece looking at Civil War Pensioners in Ireland. If you would like to read the Cavan Storify you can do so by clicking here.

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The first page of the 170th New York Infantry Bounty List of October 1862 (Copyright: Joe Maghe Collection)

Witnesses to History: A Bounty List of the 170th New York, Corcoran’s Irish Legion

This is the first in a new series of posts on the site which seeks to tie surviving American Civil War objects to the stories of those people associated with them. Surviving objects from the Civil War era are tangible links to the past- they served as ‘witnesses to history.’ I have long been fascinated by the […]

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Lieutenant-General Phil Sheridan (Library of Congress)

How ‘Irish’ was Phil Sheridan?

I have had the good fortune to speak about the Irish in the American Civil War in many different parts of Ireland. When it comes to question-time, there is one topic that is almost always guaranteed to come up- General Phil Sheridan. This is unsurprising given his leading role as one of the key players […]

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A soldier of the 11th Vermont (1st Vermont Heavy Artillery) poses with soldiers from three other regiments (Library of Congress)

‘How I Came to Kill Your Brother’: A Confederate Reveals an Irish-American’s Final Moments

I have come across many extraordinary stories during my time researching the Irish in the American Civil War. None surpass that of Sergeant Peter Donnelly of Company C, 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery. Almost uniquely, the historical record has combined to provide us with details of this ordinary Irish-American’s death from the perspectives of both friend […]

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Phil Sheridan as Commander of the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry in 1864 (Photographic History of the Civil War)

Book Review: Terrible Swift Sword- The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan

Philip Henry Sheridan is widely regarded as one of the triumvirate of Union Generals (along with Grant and Sherman) who won the American Civil War. An often controversial individual, ‘Little Phil’ was a larger than life character who enjoyed a meteoric rise to high-command during the conflict. Joseph Wheelan’s new biography looks at the Irishman’s […]

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Irish Brigade Monument

‘Good-By, Good-By’: Richard Byrnes Writes a Final Letter to His Wife

On 17th May 1864, Colonel Richard Byrnes of the 28th Massachusetts Infantry paid an early morning visit to Father William Corby, Chaplain of the Irish Brigade. A regular army officer before the war, the strict disciplinarian had been appointed to command of the 28th in the autumn of 1862. Now, on the bloody battlefield of Spotsylvania Court […]

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