Tag Archives: Widow’s Pension Files
Map 2. Widows & Dependents in Receipt of American Military Pensions, Mainland Europe, 1883. Concentration Heatmap (Click on image to explore map)

Mapping Britain’s American Civil War Widows & Dependent Parents: An Online Resource

This is the second instalment of the ongoing mapping project detailing every widow and dependent parent in the world outside of the United States receiving a pension in 1883, and concentrates on Britain (you can see the first, looking at Mainland Europe, and learn more about the project here). In order to explore the maps, click on the […]

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Hubert & Mary McNamara (Ruth Davis-Hastler)

Picturing the McNamaras: Images of the Irishman whose final letter home was cut from his body at Cold Harbor

On 2nd June 1864 Hubert McNamara of the 155th New York Infantry, Corcoran’s Irish Legion, prepared a letter for his wife. He was aware that the following morning he would be going into action; he was among the men of the Army of the Potomac then preparing to assault the Confederate lines at Cold Harbor. […]

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Europe Heat Map

Mapping Mainland Europe’s American Civil War Widows & Dependent Parents: An Online Resource

Over recent months I have been working on a major new resource for those interested in the emigrant experience of the American Civil War. It seeks to provide information on all the widows and dependents receiving American pensions outside the United States, based on those listed in the 1883 List of Pensioners on the Roll. The […]

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RTE Radio 1

The Forgotten Irish Brought to Life on RTE Radio 1

The first publicity for my new book The Forgotten Irish came recently on the RTE Radio 1’s The History Show. The programme featured extracts from four of the stories, with actors reading from a number of the letters. It is always great to hear these letters brought to life in this way– particularly as one gets a […]

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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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The Famine Irish

The Famine Irish: Emigration and The Great Hunger

Back in 2013 I was privileged to speak at the Third Annual International Famine Conference at Strokestown Park House, Co. Roscommon. The theme of the event was The Famine Irish: Emigration and New Lives, and it was an excellent couple of days. The focus of my paper was to examine the impact of the American Civil […]

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A young soldier dressed in Chausseur uniform, possibly a member of the 65th New York (Library of Congress)

Imagining the Horrors of Death: An Irishwoman Learns of Her Husband’s Death at Gettysburg

The battlefields of the American Civil War claimed thousands of Irish Famine emigrants. The families of some were fortunate, in that comrades took the time to write to them of their loved one’s final moments. But these letters did not always spare grieving relatives the gruesome imagery of war. Thankful as they must have been […]

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The envelope which contained Peter Finegan's letter to his parents, which is analysed below (Fold3.com/NARA)

Analysing 19th Century Emigration, A Case Study: Dissecting One Irishman’s Letter Home

As regular readers are aware, I have long been an advocate of the need to study the thousands of Irish-American letters contained within the Civil War Widows & Dependent Pension Files. This unique resource offers insights into 19th Century Irish emigration that do not exist anywhere else. Their value to Irish, as well as American, history […]

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The last words written by Hubert McNamara, hours before his death at the Battle of Cold Harbor (National Archives/Fold3)

‘Goodbye For A While’: An Irish Soldier’s Last Letter Home, Found on his Dead Body at Cold Harbor

On the 8th June 1864 Captain Dexter Ludden and his men from the 8th New York Heavy Artillery were picking their way through corpses. They had been assigned the unpleasant task of burying some of the many, many dead who had fallen assaulting the Confederate works at Cold Harbor. By then the bodies they were […]

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‘I Am Confused’: The Emotional Shock of Pickett’s Charge as Experienced by a Family & Friend

At 1319 North 16th Street, Philadelphia on the 3rd of July 1863, Irish mother Jane Hand would have been going about her daily routine. Her two daughters were likely proving a handful; with her eldest Lucy Ann just 5 and her youngest Mary Jane 3, they were exactly the right age to get stuck under […]

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