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Maids draw water from a well, 1864. Johanna spent the majority of her life in domestice service in Ireland and America (Oscar Gustave Rejlander)

Johanna Barry: The Story of an Emigrant Domestic in Ireland & America, 1836-1916

On 17th September 1862, 27-year-old tailor Denis Barry from Dunmanway in West Co. Cork ventured into Antietam’s West Woods with the 19th Massachusetts Infantry. He never came out again. One of the legacies of Denis’s death is the extraordinary detail it has left us about the life of his wife Johanna, covering her time in […]

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Looking into the Face of a Maimed Irish Soldier

At the close of the American Civil War, a photographer of the Johnson & D’Utassy company paid a visit to De Camp General Hospital on David’s Island in New York Harbor. He was there to capture images of surgical cases then being treated at the site, to preserve a record of the wounds and their […]

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“I am the Same Boy yet”: The Civil War Letters of Daniel Crowley, Part 2

The site welcomes back Catherine Bateson of the University of Edinburgh for the second in her series on the 1864 letters of Cork native Daniel Crowley, who served in the 28th Massachusetts Infantry, Irish Brigade (read the first post here). As the regiment pushes on to Petersburg, Daniel writes home of hand-to-hand combat, on his […]

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henry_livermore_abbott_in_uniform

Communicating Death & Creating Memory on Fredericksburg’s Streets

I have recently had a conference paper accepted on the topic of letters communicating bereavement to those on the Home Front. Since I began my work on the widow’s and dependent pension files, I have become particularly interested in these types of document, and in exploring the multitude of questions we can ask of them. How was […]

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Turf being taken home in Kerry at the turn of the 20th century. A scene that would have been familiar to Charles (Library of Congress)

‘All Abouth Home’: An Illiterate Emigrant’s Letters from America to Kerry in the 1850s

As I often reiterate, the greatest value of the widows’ and dependents’ Civil War Pension Files lies not in what they contain about the American Civil War, but in what they tell us about 19th century Irish emigrants and emigration. There are few finer examples of this than the file associated with Charles Greaney. The […]

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Punishment of Union soldiers, as depicted by Alfred Waud. In the case of Patrick Griffin, he was tied up by the thumbs, with his feet barely touching the ground, and gagged (Library of Congress)

Killed By Torture? The Story of an 18-Year-Old Irishman’s Death at the Hands of his Officers, New Orleans, 1865

In May 1860, 47-year-old Bridget Griffin stepped off the boat in the United States. Her husband John had died in their native Athlone in 1859, an event that likely precipitated her departure. With her was her 13-year-old son Patrick, a boy who grew to manhood during the years of the American Civil War. He would […]

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The "Down Hill Road", an 1878 image which highlighted the dangers of alcohol (Library of Congress)

“I Not Onley Loved You But I Adored You”: 19th Century Irish Emigrants Speak of Love, Loss & Alcoholism

On 13th October 1863 Irishwoman Margaret Martin of 84 Fourth Street, East Cambridge, Massachusetts applied for a widow’s pension. Her husband Michael, a private in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, had lost his life at the Battle of Chancellorsville on 3rd May that year. Margaret’s file demonstrates the range of information that can be found in […]

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The Battle of Opequon (Third WInchester) by Kurz & Allison (Library of Congress)

The Ties that Bind: An Emigrant Derry Community & Those Left Behind

The google image below is the modern view of a rural laneway in Ballyriff townland, near Magherafelt in Co. Londonderry. Over a century ago, it was a road that was well known to Thomas McKinney. He had spent his entire life walking it, making a living for himself and his family in the surrounding fields. […]

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"Ships in Fog, Gloucester, Massachusetts". Painted by Fitz Henry Lane in 1860, the same year John began his fishing career in Gloucester. Currently part of the Princeton University Art Museum (Fitz Henry Lane)

“As If they Were Shooting Ducks”: An Irish Nova Scotian Gloucester Fisherman at War

Many of the Canadians who fought in the American Civil War were of Irish ancestry, often members of families who had first made their homes in British North America before slowly moving down to the United States. In the early 1850s the Cunningham family made the move from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia to Gloucester, […]

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The Malvern Hill Battlefield. David Mulcahy and the 9th Massachusetts fought in the vicinity of these guns, with the Confederate attack moving towards the camera (Damian Shiels)

‘We Have No Interest…in the Claim”: A Cork City Affidavit After A Death at Malvern Hill

The majority of posts on the site relate to information contained within the Widows and Dependents Pension Files. These files can contain dozens of different types of documents, ranging from military records to soldier’s letters. But the bulk of the social data is contained within the affidavits of family, friends, employers and others, which were […]

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