Posts filed under: Letters & Documents

In the third instalment of letters from James Fleming of Antrim (Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here), we join the young Irish officer of the 9th New York “Hawkins’ Zouaves” at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. These three letters span November 1861 to...
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In May 1871 an elderly Monaghan woman, ‘infirm and broken in body’, came into Chicago from her ‘Irish Shanty’ on the open prairie outside the city. Possessing little other than ‘her scanty wardrobe’, she had come to meet her attorney....
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Few historic documents intrude on the intimate emotional experiences of past people quite like the letters that brought them news of a loved ones death. To read them is to at once imagine that first occasion when they were read....
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If you had met John Donohoe in early 1861, it would have meant you were a visitor to one of the remotest locations in Europe. Thats because you would have been on Inisheer (Innis Oírr), a Gaelic speaking island off Ireland’s west...
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In November 1864 a number of Union Ironclads were to be found on the James River in Virginia, supporting Federal ground operations there. A large number of the men on board the vessels of the James River Flotilla were Irish;...
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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,...
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In August 1861, Orderly Sergeant John Kennedy of the 10th Ohio Infantry wrote a letter home to his mother from western Virginia. Although now a soldier, the 22-year-old from Dunkerrin, Co. Offaly* had been in the army for barely three months. Just weeks...
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Bridget Burns married her husband William in Ireland on 18th August 1840. When her husband died eight years later, he left Bridget a widow and their only child, Henry, fatherless at the age of six. By the time 1861 came...
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In the first of the James Fleming letters the man from Larne, Co. Antrim described his emigration to Canada in 1857 and the first weeks of his new life across the Atlantic. We join him nearly four years later. Now...
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As regular readers of the blog will know, I spend a lot of time looking through Civil War Widow’s & Dependent’s Pension Files. Many of these files contain original letters written home by soldiers during the war. Having spent a...
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