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The Phelan Family Register (NARA/Fold3)

Document Focus: The Story of the Phelan Family Register

The last post (see here) was the first in a series called Document Focus, highlighting specific documents that are of interest in both their own right but also served a specific purpose in building the claim of a prospective pensioner. In this second post on that topic, we return once again to the Irish of Ohio, […]

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The Corporal Warrant for Joseph Donovan (NARA/Fold3)

Document Focus: The Story of the Corporal’s Warrant

Many of the pension files I explore contain one or two particularly interesting documents or pieces of evidence. These tend to be historically eye-catching in their own right, but also always served a very specific purpose in the case being built by a prospective pensioner. Such documents were usually included to provide proof on a particular aspect […]

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The fighting on Chinn Ridge at Second Bull Run as drawn by Edwin Forbes (Library of Congress)

“Mike, The Color Bearer”: How a Famine Emigrant Became an American on the Battlefields of Virginia

On the afternoon of 30th August 1862, the outcome of the Battle of Second Bull Run hung in the balance. James Longstreet’s Corps had been hurled against the Union left, and desperate fighting broke out along a key portion of the field known as Chinn Ridge. As Federal officers sought to buy time to organize […]

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Camp Dennison, where Catharine Kennedy made a desperate effort to keep her son at home in 1861 (Wikipedia)

Sole Support: An Offaly Mother’s Efforts to Keep Her Son, 1861

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 before had been learning the tobacconist trade, which he plied in Cincinnati’s 13th Ward. Now, that […]

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The 10th Ohio ‘See The Elephant’ at Carnifex Ferry

The Tenth Ohio Infantry was a mainly Irish regiment (there were also two companies of Germans) recruited in and around Cincinnati. They were a hard-drinking and hard fighting unit, who were engaged in the Western Theater for the majority of the conflict. However, it was in the 1861 West Virginia Campaign that these Irish and […]

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