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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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“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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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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Sunset on the Stones River battlefield during my visit in November 2014 (Damian Shiels)

Irishmen in the U.S. Regulars: A Case Study of the Battle of Stones River

The main focus of attention when it comes to Irish service in the American Civil War is understandably on ethnic Irish regiments and brigades. However, as has been highlighted many times on this site, the vast majority of Irish servicemen experienced the conflict outside such formations. But in the army there was one group of non-ethnic […]

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Massmount, Fanad, Co. Donegal, where James McFadden was married (Google)

‘Killed At The Surrender’: The Journey of Two Irishmen to Their Deaths at Sailor’s Creek

There is something particularly poignant about those who lose their lives in the final throes of a conflict– deaths that come when the soldiers themselves are aware the end is in sight. In many cases, the timing of such deaths must have made it even more difficult for those at home to accept. 150 years […]

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Woollen Factories in Richmond, Virginia in 1865 (Library of Congress)

Little Donegal in Pennsylvania: Chain Emigration and Ireland’s Great Untapped 19th Century Historical Resource

The thousands of American Civil War pension files relating to Irishmen represent one of the greatest available resources for uncovering the social history of the 19th century emigrant experience. It is a resource that is almost completely unrecognised in Ireland, a scholarly neglect that is symptomatic of the lack of awareness of the scale of […]

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Donegal

The #ForgottenIrish of Co. Donegal

The latest #ForgottenIrish story is now available on Storify. It forms part of the continuing effort to raise awareness in Ireland of the c. 200,000 Irishmen who fought in the American Civil War, and their families. As with the previous Storify stories it is based on a Twitter tweetathon. So far #ForgottenIrish has covered Cork […]

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Daniel Divver with his helmet from Eagle Engine 13 (Our Firemen)

Daniel Divver: An Irish Fireman in the American Civil War

The Irish community in New York has long links to the Fire Service. Large numbers of immigrant Irishmen served in the city’s Engine, Hose and Hook & Ladder companies during the 1850s and 1860s. In an era where insurance firms paid independent companies to put out fires, rivalry between firemen was often fierce. However, when […]

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An 1865 plan of the dispositions at Fort Blakely, Alabama in April 1865, where John Patton was made a prisoner for the last time (Wikipedia)

‘So Mote It Be’: A Ramelton, Co. Donegal Mason in the Confederate Army

Surviving the American Civil War was no guarantee of a long and healthy life. Donegal native John Patton had served with distinction throughout the four years of conflict, first with the New  Orleans Crescent Rifles and subsequently in the 1st Mississippi Light Artillery. Despite all the hazards he had endured, death came for him at […]

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Menomen O'Donnell and his family in later years (Deborah Maroney)

Medal of Honor: First Lieutenant Menomen O’Donnell, 11th Missouri Infantry

On the 22nd May 1863 Ulysses S. Grant launched an assault against the Rebel defences at Vicksburg, Mississippi. His previous effort to take the ‘Gibraltar of the Confederacy’ by storm, on 19th May, had ended in failure. Now he was trying again. At around 10 in the morning following an artillery barrage, blue-coated infantry surged forward across a […]

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