Fredericksburg Memories »

It’s the anniversary of Fredericksburg, that horrific and senseless battle in which Burnside sacrificed 10% of his army for nothing. I’ve read a little about the battle, but with the exception of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s recollections in the Ken Burns series, had never read a firsthand account of the fighting. Here’s one from a member […]

Immigration exhibition »

Here’s a Lincoln law I’d not heard of before – the Act to Encourage Immigration.  In this day and age of war, open borders, and refugees, there’s a timely exhibition being mounted by the Soldier’s Home. Abraham Lincoln signed the Act to Encourage Immigration into law on July 4, 1864. The act was the first — […]

Debate Over Brady’s Birthplace »

I did a podcast on Brady, stating he was a New Yorker. It looks as though that information was incorrect. New documentation is pointing to the great photographer actually being Irish. Harold Holzer, who has written or edited 50 books on Lincoln and the Civil War, said: “Brady is a guy who kind of defies […]

The Irish in the Civil War »

This article by the Irish Independent points out that the first Union private and the last Union general killed in the war were both Irish.  It’s a brief look at the impact Irish immigrants had on the American cataclysm. They reckon that 210,000 Irish soldiers fought in British uniform in the First World War, and […]

Douglass in Ireland »

I was in Europe this year, and kept running into “Frederick Douglass spoke here” plaques. I didn’t see any in Ireland, though there are plenty of Daniel O’Connell commemorations. Turns out the two men had a very complicated relationship through the 1840s. Salon documents it and the Irish/American/Negro complications that came out of the troubles […]

Chinese Soldiers »

In Book 3 of his Narrative, Shelby Foote mentions that Lee’s lines around Petersburg were stretched so thin, he couldn’t even allow his Jewish soldiers time out of the trenches for Yom Kippur. I was amazed to think of Jewish soldiers, and even more amazed when I read about this website, which is commemorating the […]

Battle of Nueces »

This article mentions a “battle” in Texas which is new to me – one guesses that anything under 50 casualties generally gets skipped in the narratives. Interesting to learn there was a pro-Union, German contingent in Texas during the war, though. We tend to think of the German immigration as being exclusively Northern. I wonder […]

More Volck »

I’m so excited to see this Adalbert Volck exhibition, which I mentioned in a previous update.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, of all papers, has this excellent biography of the man. (But, surprisingly, none of his cartoons.) Volck lived nearly 50 years after the war’s end, dying in Baltimore in 1912. In a letter to the Library […]

St Louis in Wartime »

I’d procrastinated on reading this article, mainly due to its length, but it’s a fascinating read and entertainingly written – well worth the investment in time. While it eventually settles down into an examination of the German immigrant population and its effect on the border state, it’s introduced by a look at the city that […]

Old World Religion, New World Conflict »

While Catholic soldiers always prove an interesting focus for research, the Catholic Church as an entity was uncharacteristically silent from 1861-5. As this article investigates, this may have been due to the Church having a dog(ma) in each side of the fight. On the eve of the Civil War, as citizens were taking sides, and […]