Tag Archives: Widow’s Pension Files
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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The 69th Pennsylvania Monument as it appears today (Photo by Jen Goellnitz www.goellnitz.org)

‘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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Civil War Times August 2014 (Civil War Times)

An Appearance in Civil War Times Magazine

Each month Professor Susannah Ural of The University of Southern Mississippi runs the ‘Ural on URLs’ feature in Civil War Times magazine, exploring the Civil War on the internet. Many readers of this site will be familiar with Professor Ural’s work through publications such as The Harp and the Eagle and Civil War Citizens. I […]

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Storify

Telling the Personal Stories of 41 Civil War Pensioners on Storify

For a number of months I have been researching the personal stories of US military pensioners who were living in Ireland in 1883. The vast majority of these men and women were Civil War pensioners, and it is my hope that I can publish a book in the future on their many and varied experiences. […]

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The first page of the letter written by Richey Cochran to Sarah Jane in June 1862, stamped with June 1880 when it was received by the Pension Bureau (Fold3)

‘Remember me to all the folks’: The Last Letter to a Limavady Woman from her Husband

Widow’s Pension Files often contain extremely poignant information. As women sought to prove their connections to their deceased spouse, they sometimes had to submit what must have been extremely treasured possessions to the Pension Agency. For Sarah Jane Cochran of Limavady, Co. Londonderry, this meant handing over the last letter ever written to her by […]

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Rations being distributed at Andersonville, Georgia, 1864. This scene is perhaps closer to the type of experience Colin had at Salisbury and Libby (Library of Congress)

‘Should this Book Be Ever Found on My Dead Body’: A POW’s Fate and a Letter to Ireland

On the 27th January 1865 a Union prisoner of war was found dead in the yard of Salisbury Prison, North Carolina. The soldier, recently transferred from Libby Prison in Richmond, appeared to have died from a combination of exposure and disease. He apparently had no close friends to look out for him, so fellow prisoners […]

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An Extract of the Statements Provided by John Barrett and John Gleason for Timothy Durick (John Barrett could sign his name, John Gleason was illiterate so made his mark- Image via Fold3)

Dependent Father: How one Irish Brigade Soldier’s Service Helped an Elderly Man in Rural Tipperary

Each month for much of the 1880s the octogenarian Timothy Durick travelled from his home in Lackamore, Castletownarra, Co. Tipperary to the nearby town of Nenagh. He made the journey to visit the Post Office and collect his pension, which was worth $8 U.S. Dollars. In order to secure the pension the elderly man had […]

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