Speaking Ill Of The Dead: Eulogies & Enmity For An Irish Brigade Soldier

Irish in the American Civil War

On 18th October 1862 the New York Irish-American published an article on the ‘gallant fellows’ of the Irish Brigade who had recently given their lives at the carnage of Antietam. One of them was Tullamore native Lieutenant John Conway, who had fallen in the ranks of the 69th New York Infantry. The paper described Conway as a ‘noble’man, whose memory should be cherished. Remembering the dead of the American Civil War in such heroic terms is something that we still do today. However, it is occasionally worth reminding ourselves that these were flesh and blood people, with their own flaws and foibles. Just as they were loved by some, they could be disliked by others. Less than two weeks before the Irish-American’s eulogy, John Conway’s brother-in-law, Charles Brady, had written to his sister regarding the soldier’s death. Unlike the newspaper, Charles did not seem particularly sorry to hear…

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