Tag Archives: Irish Brigade
The fields over which the Union assault on the Mule Shoe salient took place at Spotsylvania, as dawn breaks on the 150th anniversary of the battle, 12th May 2014 (Damian Shiels)

“I am so well accustomed…I don’t care about dancing on the bodies of dead men”: The Civil War letters of Daniel Crowley, Part 1

Friend of the site Catherine Bateson of the University of Edinburgh has previously contributed a guest post on her work relating to Irish Songs in the American Civil War. I am delighted to welcome her back, this time to share some research she has carried out on the fascinating letters of Daniel Crowley, a young Cork […]

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rogue-historian

Podcast: Beyond the Irish Brigade with The Rogue Historian

Last week I had a conversation with Dr. Keith Harris who runs The Rogue Historian website and podcast. Keith will be known to many readers for his very well-received book Across the Bloody Chasm: The Culture of Commemoration among Civil War Veterans published by LSU Press. We spent what was for me a Cork evening […]

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Excelsior Brigade Memorial, Gettysburg (Damian Shiels)

Time to Move Beyond the Irish Brigade? The Problems with Studying Ethnic Irish Units– A Case Study of the New York Irish at Gettysburg

When we think and examine the Irish of the American Civil War, we often consider first and foremost ethnic units; formations such as the Irish Brigade, Corcoran’s Legion or regimental level contingents such as the 9th Massachusetts and 69th Pennsylvania. Such units have undeniably been the focus of attention for both scholars and enthusiasts (this […]

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A depiction of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. Charly Gallagher was one of the men who repulsed it (Library of Congress)

In the Ghostly Footsteps of the Gettysburg Irish

My posts have been less frequent than normal of late due to a range of book and conference commitments, so apologies to readers for the longer than normal gap! I will shortly be heading to the United States for the first time in a couple of years, taking in some locations relating to the Irish experience in […]

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Chart of desertion rate in the 63rd New York Infantry, Irish Brigade, from 1861 to 1865 (Damian Shiels)

Charting Desertion in the Irish Brigade, Part 1

The Irish Brigade is rightly regarded as one of the finest units to take the field during the American Civil War. However, just like all other Union formations, they had their ups and down in battle, and like other formations, they suffered from desertion. In order to examine this in further detail I have taken the […]

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Portraits from the New York Irish-American Weekly: 1861

Every week the New York Irish-American brought it’s news to Irish readers not just in The Empire State, but all over the United States. Many Irish soldiers at the front remained loyal readers of the newspaper throughout the Civil War. From time to time, the Irish-American printed portraits and illustrations of famous Irish-Americans, Catholics and […]

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The grave of First Sergeant William Jones, Fredericksburg National Cemetery. A native of Wicklow. (Damian Shiels)

A Walk Among Storied Tombstones: Some Irish Dead in National Cemeteries

In 2014 I was fortunate enough to walk a number of the Eastern Theater battlefields of the American Civil War. I took the time to visit some of the National Cemeteries along the way, at places like Cold Harbor, Glendale, Fredericksburg and Antietam. Military cemeteries are fascinating places. The National Cemeteries created out of the […]

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A Soldier's dream of Home (Library of Congress)

‘You Put Your Arm Around My Neck and Kissed Me’: Sex, Love & Duty in the Letters of an Irish Brigade Soldier

Letters included in the pension file often contain some very personal information. Surely few match those written by the Irish Brigade’s Samuel Pearce to his wife Margaret. The correspondence details not only the railroad man’s initial efforts to avoid the draft and use of an alias, but also provides a unique and intimate insight into […]

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Lieutenant-Colonel James J. Smith and officers of the 69th New York, an image exposed just a few weeks after the Battle of Skinner's Farm (Library of Congress)

‘I Trust the Almighty Will Spare Me My Life’: Charles Traynor & the Battle of Skinner’s Farm, 25th March 1865

In March 1865, Charles Traynor wrote home to his mother Catharine in New York. A veteran of some of the most famed Irish Brigade actions of the war, he was still at the front as the conflict began to enter its final days. ‘I trust the Almythy will spear me my life’ he confided to […]

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The Battle of Fair Oaks by Currier & Ives (Library of Congress)

‘A Deep Blow to Your Heart’: Patrick Clooney’s Newly Uncovered Description of the Irish Brigade at Fair Oaks

On 16th September 1862, 33-year-old Ann Dunnigan appeared before an Albany judge to begin the process of claiming a widow’s pension. Her husband Patrick had been mortally wounded in the Irish Brigade’s first major engagement- the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia- on 1st June 1862. As part of her evidence, Ann handed over a detailed […]

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