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One of Fort Donelson's River Batteries (Hal Jesperson)

‘Beyond the Power of My Feeble Pen’: The Fate of a Limerick Octogenarian’s Sons in the West, 1862

Limerickman Patrick Vaughan had lived a long life by the 1860s. He was born sometime around 1783, the year that the conflict between the American Colonies and Britain had finally drawn to a close. When rebellion broke out in Ireland and French troops marched to their support in 1798, Patrick was a teenager. He was in his […]

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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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The Rotundo in Dublin, which later formed part of the Ambassador (William Murphy)

The ‘Polopticomorama’: Bringing the American Civil War to Life in Irish Theatres, 1863

When Mathew Brady exhibited his photographic images of the dead of the Battle of Antietam in New York in 1862, throngs went to see the exhibition. The shocking sight of the dead of the conflict caused the New York Times to remark that if Brady ‘has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards […]

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Steamboats on the Mississippi River in New Orleans during the 1850s, a scene that would have been familiar to Maurice O'Donnell (Hippolyte Sebron))

Abbeyfeale’s Louisiana Tiger: A Confederate Veteran Returns to Ireland

Although it is often possible to track Union veterans who returned to Ireland through resources such as pension files, this is not an avenue available when searching for former Confederates. One method of uncovering these men is through the pages of Irish newspapers, which occasionally make reference to American Civil War veterans. In 1915 the […]

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“Walt Whitman and Peter Doyle” (c. 1869) Source: Ohio Wesleyan University, Bayley Collection. Public Domain.

‘I Will Sing the Song of Companionship’: Peter Doyle– Former Confederate, Walt Whitman’s Muse & Lover

I am very pleased today to have a guest post from historian Liam Hogan. Liam has spent many years exploring this history of Limerick City and County, research that has seen the production of resources such as this site, which examines Limerick 100 years ago, and this interactive map that illustrates the locations where Limerick […]

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The USS Monitor and CSS Virginia do battle the day after James Leahy's death (Library of Congress)

Hearing the Irish Accent of a Merrimac Victim Across 150 Years

On 8th March 1862, the Confederate Ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) steamed out of Norfolk, Virginia to attack the Federal fleet in Hampton Roads. The resulting two-day encounter remains one of the most famous naval engagements in history. One Yankee sailor would later recall how an awful silence descended over the men of the […]

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A Sketch of Con Garvin and his Mother Catharine Garvin in the Troy Record of 1965, sketched by artist Robert W. Daley (

In Search of Con: The Remarkable Story of the Hunt for the ‘Idiot’ Boy Sold into Service

In late 1863, details of a sensational case began to emerge throughout the newspapers of the Union. It was a story that would be told and retold for decades to come, and was ever after remembered by all who had come into contact with the particulars. At its centre was an intellectually disabled ‘idiot’ boy […]

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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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The Great Naval Victory at Mobile Bay by Currier & Ives (Library of Congress)

The 14 Irish Medal of Honor Recipients of the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama

On 5th August 1864 a fleet of eighteen Union ships under Rear Admiral David G. Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Alabama on the Confederacy’s Gulf Coast. Their aim was to put the port out of action as a centre for blockade running. The fleet passed under ferocious fire from Forts Gaines and Morgan- and through a […]

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The Arthur B. Cohn House in Houston. Built in 1905, it incorporated elements of the earlier Browne family home and was originally built on land owned by Winnifred Browne (Ed Uthman)

John Browne of Ballylanders, Co. Limerick: Confederate Veteran, Mayor of Houston, Texas

On 19th August 1941 John T. Browne died in Houston, Texas, having led a most remarkable life. He had been born in Co. Limerick 96 years before and had become one of Ireland’s many Famine emigrants. In his youth he had seen Sam Houston speak, served in the Confederate Army, and eventually embarked on a […]

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