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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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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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Another image of Biddy, taken with some of the younger generations of her family. Without the events of the American Civil War, she would likely have never returned to Dingle (Mossy Donegan)

Paddy Bawn Brosnan & the American Civil War: The Famed Gaelic Footballer’s Links to Kerry’s Greatest Conflict

On 14th September 1947, New York witnessed a unique sporting occasion. In front of more than 30,000 people at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, the Gaelic footballers of Kerry and Cavan did battle in what remains the only All-Ireland Football Championship Final ever to be held outside of Ireland. Among the men who donned the […]

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The Return of the 69th New York, 1861 by Louis Lang. Thomas Madigan had been anticipating such a homecoming before Bull Run (New York Historical Society)

The Madigans: Famine Survival, Emigration & Obligation in 19th Century Ireland & America

Each pension file contains fragments of one Irish family’s story. They are rarely complete, but nonetheless they often offer us rare insight into aspects of the 19th century Irish emigrant experience. Few match the breadth of the story told in the Madigan pension file. That family’s words and letters take us from the Great Famine […]

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Kerry

Storify: The #ForgottenIrish of Co. Kerry

The second Irish county to be covered as part of the #ForgottenIrish campaign on Twitter was Co. Kerry. This follows on from the first featured county, which was Cork. As promised for those of you not on the platform, I will continue to use Storify to bring together the tweets on each county in one […]

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Rations being distributed at Andersonville, Georgia, 1864. This scene is perhaps closer to the type of experience Colin had at Salisbury and Libby (Library of Congress)

‘Should this Book Be Ever Found on My Dead Body’: A POW’s Fate and a Letter to Ireland

On the 27th January 1865 a Union prisoner of war was found dead in the yard of Salisbury Prison, North Carolina. The soldier, recently transferred from Libby Prison in Richmond, appeared to have died from a combination of exposure and disease. He apparently had no close friends to look out for him, so fellow prisoners […]

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Luke Ferriter (right) discusses the Sleeping Sentinel incident with Rev. Dr. William E. Barton (left) at Brattleboro in 1926 (Reminiscences about Abraham Lincoln)

‘We Were All Shaking in Nervousness’: Luke Ferriter and Vermont’s ‘Sleeping Sentinel’

The night of 31st August 1861 found Private Luke Ferriter of the 3rd Vermont Infantry standing guard at the Chain Bridge on the Potomac river. He was sharing his sentry duty with two other men from the regiment, with each taking a two-hour shift. At midnight it was Luke’s turn to grab four hours of […]

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Seizing the Potato Crop of an Evicted Tenant (Library of Congress)

A Remarkable Famine Emigrant: Catherine Long and the Union Cause

This site covers the stories of numerous Irish Famine emigrants who later found themselves caught up in the American Civil War. Many of these stories deal with the consequences for those who suffered during the conflict, as thousands were forced to deal with a second great trauma in their lives. However, seismic disruptive events such […]

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Battle of Williamsburg, 5th May 1862 (Kurz and Allison, 1893)

‘Allow Me to Mingle My Tears’: The Aftermath of a 22-Year-Old Irishman’s Death

On 5th May 1862, Kerryman Lieutenant Patrick Henry Hayes led Company G of the 37th New York ‘Irish Rifles’ into action at Williamsburg, Virginia. As they charged toward the enemy, Patrick and his men also had to contend with nature; a severe rainstorm hampered their progress through a dense pine forest, which was littered with […]

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