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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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A woman in mourning clothes holding an image of a soldier (Library of Congress)

‘God Has Called Your Husband to the Other Shore’: The Letters that turned Wives into Widows

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. Though death may have occurred days, weeks or even months before, it was the act […]

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Separation. Many Irish families could not afford to emigrate together. For whatever reason, all three of these women's husbands left their family home for America, never to return (Library of Congress)

‘The Hard Industry of My Own Hands’: Three American Civil War Widows in Ireland Struggle to Survive

On the face of things, Irishwomen Honora Cleary, Eleanor Hogg and Maria Sheppel had little in common. For a start, they were from different parts of Ireland; Honora hailed from Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Eleanor lived in Boyle, Co. Roscommon and Maria had grown up in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Neither did the women share the same religion; Honora and Eleanor were […]

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James Rowan O'Beirne during the American Civil War

James Rowan O’Beirne and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

A previous post on the site explored the role of James Rowan O’Beirne in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. When Journalist Jody Moylan got in touch with regard to American Civil War veterans who were natives of Roscommon, O’Beirne immediately sprang to mind. Jody was captivated by O’Beirne’s […]

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Confederates in Ireland: Father John Bannon Receives His Orders

A previous post on the site told of the mission given to Lieutenant J.L. Capston by Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin in July 1863. Capston was to travel to Ireland and use legitimate means to counteract the work of Federal agents in the Country. Benjamin’s efforts to halt a perceived flow of Irish […]

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Hunting John Wilkes Booth: The Man Who Led the Search for Lincoln’s Killer

The night of 14th April 1865 was one that Major James Rowan O’Beirne, Provost Marshal of the District of Columbia, would never forget. President Abraham Lincoln lay dying in William Petersen’s Boarding House, having been shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre. Secretary of State William Seward had been stabbed in his own home, […]

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